In the suburbs of Rome, the translator Vittoria breaks her engagement with her boyfriend, the writer Ricardo, after a troubled night. Vittoria goes downtown to meet her mother, who is addicted to the stock market, and she meets the broker Piero on a day of crash. The materialist Piero and the absent Vittoria begin a monosyllabic relationship.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #278. See more »
At 1:28:30 into the film, Vittoria and Piero get wet from a sprinkler. The right side of Piero's jacket is clearly wet. A minute later when they are listening to the piano player, the back of Vittoria's blouse is still wet, but Piero's jacket is dry. See more »
L'Eclisse (1962) is a profoundly artistic, wonderfully crafted modern Italian film, in which the audience is permitted to draw their own conclusions about what they are seeing on the screen.
Unlike most directors, who construct their films in very specific, traditional ways to tell stories they wish to convey, in L'Eclisse the director Michelangelo Antonioni paints pictures which mean different things to different people. It's an open-ended story and the audience is allowed and actually encouraged to come up with their own theories about the main plot and sub-plots, the overall themes, and the characters' motivations and personalities. None of them are carved in stone. You yourself can travel to a very special, unique place by watching L'Eclisse, and it can be a very different journey than someone else's.
What do the white lines mean to you? They show up several times in compositional frames in the film: on the street, on the runway when the plane lands, outside a church, and in more abstract ways in signposts, in clothing, in architecture. Is an actual eclipse taking place when darkness descends and the street light suddenly goes on? or has nighttime simply fallen and we're left with a sense of desolation and obliteration of the modern city? has the city been hit by a nuclear bomb? The mushroom water tower: does it just signify the nuclear age, or is it a real omen for the future of mankind? Is it not also a phallic symbol, showcasing the director's idea that the stockbroker character is primarily interested in towering conquests, and that sexuality is an underlying motivation of the main female character's psyche, even though she also seems afraid of intimacy and commitment? The man riding the horse and buggy and the nursemaid pushing the baby buggy: do these things just mark the passage of time? or do they have a deeper meaning that represents the old world, a world that is quickly disappearing from the modern landscape? Is the final scene between the couple the end of their relationship, or are they about to become more serious? Questions like these can be answered in different ways, depending on your own perspective.
This was a novel approach to film-making in 1962, and actually it's also still novel today too! How many films dare to resemble L'Eclisse in the 21st century? Today films are too formulaic and rarely is the same creativity expressed that Michelangelo Antonioni achieved so sublimely in his film. If I was a filmmaker this would be the kind of film I would love to make, full of symbolism and repressed emotions.
The cinematography is exquisite in this film. The new Criterion double disc set did a fantastic job with the print and the extras. My suggestion would be to watch the film without commentary and then immediately afterward watch it again with the commentary on. As he talks you will find yourself noticing things you missed the first time around, and that the commentator is missing too! For instance, notice how in the scene when the ladies are chasing the dogs who have escaped the apartment, that Vittoria approaches two dogs, a white and a black one, and it's the black dog who gets up and dances and charms her, an analogy to the previous scene, in which Vittoria had put on black-face and did an African dance in her racist friend's apartment. The white dog blithely walks away, representing the stifling racist views of her friend Marta, and the black dog shows joy of movement and a fun nature, like Vittoria. The commentator completely misses this message.
Acting is superb by all three leads, Monica Vitti, with her finely chiseled face and wild blonde hair, Alain Delon, who conveys emotions easily with just the flick of an eyebrow, and Francisco Rabal, classically handsome and intense. Also of note is the actress who plays Vittoria's mother, Lila Brignone, who does a good job depicting the emotional distance the character feels from the estranged daughter, which in turn conveys to the audience one of the primary reasons Vittoria is afraid of intimacy: she never had a demonstrative relationship with her mother.
If you're a fan of Italian cinema, don't miss L'Eclisse. It's a special film which will stay with you long after you've seen it.
10 out of 10.
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