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Like a personal blend of quasi-bourgeois drama filmed in a meticulous, documentary-implied style
MisterWhiplash31 May 2004
While The Eclipse is one of the most superbly directed films I may have ever seen, on a first impression it was (obviously) a lot to take in all at once. As with his other films, L'Eclisse isn't for everyone. But Antonioni distinguishes himself here as a great artist of the medium by not only creating the kinds of compositions (lensed by Gianni De Venanzo, who worked with Antonioni on Il Grido and La Notte as well as the WW2 documentary Days of Glory and Fellini's 8 1/2) no one could ever justifiably imitate correctly, but creating a depth to the substance. On one hand one aspect of L'Eclisse that's appealing is how it balances out the style and substance (though the style is arguably the more distinguishable and greater than the two). On the other another aspect is that it could put off viewers not terribly familiar with Antonioni's psychology (which, like Scorsese for example, is at least consistent and engaging with the rest of the director's catalog of work). How intently he gets inside Vittoria's head, and at the same time maintains a detachment despite the varying emotional contexts, is extraordinary, if highly personal.

Like Vittoria, Antonioni does something that's fascinating throughout the film - though one doesn't know what it is exactly that holds Vittoria, and for that matter Piero, in their respective attitudes, one doesn't feel quite left out of anything heart-stopping for the story/character's sake. The film lets us in just enough as to no keep us curious, and it also doesn't keep itself in a depressive tone, as it is realistic to how the people in this city exist. In fact, there's another facet to L'Eclisse which especially worked for me - the poetry that slips itself in small doses amid the visual sweep. Whether it be one of the long takes, an elongated view on a building or street-light, or on Vitty as Vittoria, it's in the observation that subtext forms. This is the kind of motion picture that a shot-by-shot analysis would serve like would a Picasso or Chagal.

And as a plus to the film's success are the actors turns - Monica Vitti is the only actress from that period and country I can think of who could've pulled off what Antonioni wanted in Vittoria. Her face, after being in front of us minute after minute, becomes familiar despite her inner-angst. She knows what Vittoria's fears and loss of vitality means for the story. She's not a person without a laugh or smile ever, yet those emotions arrive only after the known mood is peeled away like a layer of skin. "To love I think one shouldn't know the other," she says, almost arbitrarily. "But then, maybe one shouldn't love at all." Is this Antonioni hitting the hammer on the head, or is it just one of those kinds of comments a woman like her would make? As in L'Avventura, there is the mystery around the female lead. Is love beyond her reach we might wonder, or has the idea of it vanished under false pretense? Alain Deleon also deserves credit for his Piero, as he counters her quiet, more fogged demeanor as a stockbroker in Rome. That under current to the story - the major bustle and noise of the gamblers in the stockbroker's hall - is also part of the contrast, to the stretches with minimal dialog and sound.

The last act, which regards Vittoria's relationship to Piero (a time after he empty break-up with her past lover Rodrigo) culminates in an astonishing feat of storytelling and film-art. As it becomes all the more evident neither one will arrive at a certain (usually) desolate cross-road corner to meet up, the idea of an eclipse over these people and places is hypnotic, unique. For its time it must've been quite a stroke by a director, and forty or so years later the whole sequence leaves its effect in due. Haunting formations beneath and surrounded by the sky and clouds, and it's a bit intellectually loaded. There can be any interpretation for this climax (or as one could claim an anti-climax) that isn't manipulated by Antonioni. The sequence, as with the rest of the film, asks only to see the world based on how one would think it can, or will, be seen. And it fits memorably, like bedroom slippers, into the prime of Antonioni's career as an auteur.

Among the three films in Antonioni's films from this period of his career (1960-1962), this is the one I'd recommend the highest. The Eclipse is also the kind that's nearly mandatory to see more than once if sincerely interested in checking out at all (in other words, don't watch it with pre-conceived notions of this being a dramatic love story with solid conventions to it).
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Superbly crafted modern masterpiece
overseer-38 January 2007
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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More than decent conclusion of a great trilogy
Alexandar1 March 2006
L'Eclisse (1962)***1/2

Third film in Antonioni's trilogy of alienation following L'Avventura (1960) and La Notte (1961) about a young woman (Monica Vitti) and her brief affair with handsome Alain Delon.

Like in his other movies, Antonioni uses specific techniques not to tell the story but rather to express the lack of communication among the characters, their alienation and incapableness to make a strong and meaningful relation. May this be because of their shallow characters or as a result of living in a modern society marked with the superficial values like prestigious and run-for-the-money – it's up to the viewer to decide. Anyway, long cadres, real time events, visual metaphors and visual contrasts between the characters on the one side and landscapes and/or modern day creations like buildings, streets (usually empty) on the other is what makes this rather experience than a plot-movie (intentionally) but nevertheless effective in their purpose (which is to express and transmit this same feelings of alienation to the viewer). So, if you're looking for an entertainment, you better skip this one. Final scene is great in concluding the movie. A bit weaker of great L'Avventura.
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The capital,the eroticism
Cristi_Ciopron5 December 2006
The Eclipse denotes Michelangelo Antonioni 's flawless taste,and his powerful,virile instinct for strong compositions;this elegant and suave movie is one of the cinema's best pieces of poetry (I must also confess that I prefer this early,younger,"black and white" and peninsular Michelangelo Antonioni;he was 50 years when he made L'ECLISSE).Before he approached the '60s counterculture,Antonioni made a few strong movies not only for the intellectuals but also about intellectuals.

This one is an incredibly rich movie,a movie about many things:about solitude,financial pawns,a woman's indefinite aspirations,the vibrating city beauty,and the heart's resilience,the woman soul's density,the urban aesthetic;and also about:greed,people that search gropingly .Little wheels in the gearing of the stock exchange;the stock exchange's crushing machine.Antonioni is caustic and sober.His theme,the human monad,is inexhaustible.The naturalness,the charm,the intensity,the integrity,the width of this film must be mentioned.Antonioni proved that,for his cinema,experiments are always ways and means,while the most intense poetry is the aim.(Each great director is an experimenter;all great directors are experimenters,only to be better poets.)

Antonioni is one of the three directors who,according to Averty,never made a bad movie (and Antonioni's creation was,for almost two decades, quite abundant;it is only after Blowup (1966) that he went slow,making some seven movies in so many decades).His movies don't have a "sockdolager",that's part of what makes them so good and endearing.Experimenting in countless ways,Antonioni never forgot to be a poet,and never failed.His aesthetic aim has a side of ingenuity and directness that enchants in an unfailing way.

And what is Antonioni's poetry?It is this compact texture,this density of the people and of the life,the striking immediacy.It is amazing also how Antonioni put all of himself in this beautiful movie,The Eclipse.

Like a few others,The Eclipse is one of the movies that give us the taste of what cinema can be.
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SciFi for the Emotional Life
Kara Dahl Russell29 March 2007
Smart and moody, this film is not only about emotional Eclipse, it is about the eclipse of the old society as it changes, and also about how architectural changes eclipse older style, and more importantly, nature. There are really smart and insightful comments here on changing racial attitudes, and the disparities between rich, poor, and the people who don't mind cannibalizing the disenfranchised. All this commentary done with the subtlety of the slowing growing suburbs that our leading lady lives in.

Monica Vitti plays our "everywoman" who is our window into the Director's mind, but also herself a mere dot on the landscape. Early on, we see her throw away exactly what she seems to be looking for, only to pursue it in exactly the wrong place/person.

The film has a look of a sci-fi horror movie, but the horror here is emotional desolation, the destruction of nature/natural-ness, and the looming threat of nuclear war. This film, so cleanly represents the era when "duck and cover" was not only a physical act, it was an emotional state.

If you don't like film as art, you will be completely lost by the architectural city-scape ending montage, and the lack of traditional film closure. This is not a light evening of movie entertainment, but it is film making at it's non-verbal, eloquent best. Captivating, thought provoking, and meaty.
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Vittoria's Secret...Unknown Even to Her?
ThurstonHunger4 October 2007
From the beginning, Vittoria is seen in agitation. A fan blows her hair, she doesn't fit in the frame of many shots, or is caught actually in another world via a mirror. She is constantly gazing outside, she is like an electron trying to gain enough escape velocity to get away from the silent stagnant relationship she is in with Riccardo.

Most of us know this...the end of a relationship...the vacillation between pain and numbness and irritation. It was very eerily depicted in the opening of this film, you almost sense there is something bigger going on. The stark shots outside, I didn't realize it was early morning at first, so it almost seemed like an apocalyptic sci-fi start. I wondered if somehow an eclipse, based on the title, had caused all the people on earth to vanish. Music concrete added to the alien aura.

But really it was just the affair, not civilization, that had collapsed.

Even once Vittoria breaks free, we often see her captured behind bars via Antonioni's ever clever camera work. A sense of restlessness still pursues her, as the winds stir the world around her. A whirlwind romance with Piero has its moments of pleasure, but still something seems amiss.

The only scene that I found serene took place at the airport. Did others feel that way as well? If so, why?

Is this a film that cites the vagaries of life, the gusts of lust, the hot air tornado of the stock market? Is the answer to somehow find a way to ride the air, rather than be blown hither and thither?

In the few Antonioni films I have seen, I do love how the "plot" can drift as much as the characters. Indeed there was a point where I thought the film would just leave Vittoria in the dust, and follow someone else. I don't think I was as smitten with her as I should have been, although her coquetry was at times sublime. Hello torn strap of the dress! But their affair has very little beyond the chase, her talk of love seemed ludicrous to me.

The overlong shots of the stock exchange were exasperating yet enthralling simultaneously. If that is the crowning achievement of man, then we are indeed doomed. Money for money's sake alone...sickening. Maybe that is the contrast to the simple conquest of the air via flight?

This film certainly caught my eye, scenes linger - the car being towed out of the lake (another doppleganger?) - the balloon being shot out of the sky - the investor who lost a lot, but not his ability to doodle but ultimately for me, this film didn't quite take off.

6/10 Thurston Hunger
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Black and white is full of color
paveltsvetkov8 December 2006
L'ECLISSE is not everybody's cup of tea. It is so slow that to continue watching it may sometimes require a conscious strain of will. But it is a rewarding experience: L'ECLISSE is probably the best of all unhurried movies. It is so desperately tender; Alain Delon and Monica Vitti are so young and beautiful, and at the same time - so precise in their naiveté; the camera shots are so long and ambiguous, so empty of words. If there ever was a movie that truthfully represents the playful and sad uncertainty of being in love, then this must be it.

L'ECLISSE is sure to break your heart... or mend it.

The ending is as mysterious as God's ways and if it wasn't for the music to bring me down to earth I may have thought that I had died.
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L'Eclisse is about emptiness, meaningless capitalism and the nuclear threat.
Tony-Papard1 July 2005
Antonioni's 'L'Eclisse' depicts the emptiness and and meaningless of life in the post-Second World War world under the shadow of the nuclear threat. This is represented by the mushroom shaped water-tower looming outside the window in the film's early sequences, and is referred to again in newspaper headlines towards the end of the film. This film was made in 1962, a year after the Berlin crisis, and in the year of the Cuba crisis when we came very close to nuclear war between the USA and the USSR.

The film also depicts the greed of capitalism, as shown in the mad, chaotic scenes in the Rome Stock Exchange and the obsessive gambling of the mother character.

The location, with distant shots of Benito Mussolini's EUR buildings on the outskirts of Rome, also suggest a meaningless, empty, soulless Brave New World all overshadowed by the nuclear threat, where people suffer loneliness and depression and feel unable to make long-term commitments.
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The best Monica Vitti movie
vyto348 January 2003
Many people feel that Vitti was the most gloriously radiant, magnetically attractive film actress of the 1960s and 70s. This is her best film. It is also one of the two best Antonioni films (along with Blowup), and it is a stunningly inventive film. The last scene alone is totally unparalled in film history. The "African" scene also ranks as one of cinema's most striking moments. Alain Delon is a good pairing for Vitti and he perfectly captures the intended too-self-absorbed, pretty-boy role.
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A slow moving mood piece
bandw23 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The story is that of the dissolution of Vittoria's relationship with Riccardo and her attempt to take up with Piero, a young stock trader. That is pretty much it for story, the rest is style.

The first scene lasts almost fifteen minutes and sets the dominant mood and tone for the rest of the movie. The scene details the end of the relationship between Riccardo and Vittoria; it opens with a long shot of Riccardo staring disconsolately into space, then the camera moves to Vittoria, equally bummed out. Nothing is spoken for the first six minutes and then what follows is some anguished dialog inter-cut with images of Vittoria framed against different parts of the room: at windows, on a couch, against a door, in front of a painting, and so forth. I understand this scene is to illustrate the breakdown in communication between these two, and Vittoria's isolation, but it went on agonizingly long.

There are two scenes filmed in the Rome Stock Exchange. The first of these goes on for five minutes, and the second lasts for fifteen minutes. That chaos reigns in those scenes is established within a few minutes and I came away from them thinking that they had lasted long beyond their relevance. I found that almost all scenes went on way too long.

There are scenes that emphasize how lonely and isolated Vittoria is. In many of the exterior scenes, Vittoria is imaged against a background devoid of all but an occasional person: isolated streets, drab buildings, empty fields. I understand the message being sent is how difficult it is to gain purchase on a meaningful life in an uncaring urban environment, but I did not feel that I needed to be hit over the head with that.

There is a racist scene that may make many contemporary viewers uncomfortable. It was just one scene of several that seemed to come out of nowhere only to puzzle me as to why it was there.

The thing that saved this from being totally tedious was the spectacular black and white cinematography. The Blu-ray DVD is incredibly pristine, particularly considering that this movie is over fifty years old.

The commentary tract by Richard Peña is of the kind that gives film critics a bad name as being effete snobs. He sees significance in every detail. For example, he remarks on the opening scene as being abstract, offering a fractured space that is almost cubist. I simply saw two people who were several decades away from having access to Prozac. Peña remarks on the pagan roots of the behavior in the stock exchange. I finally had to cease listening to his bloviating.

The mood created by this overly long movie is distinctly downbeat.
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Another snoozefest from Antonioni
ags12322 June 2015
In this, his third film about the boredom and alienation of modern society, Antonioni reaches new heights in boring and alienating his audience. While Monica Vitti is indeed a beautiful and charismatic screen presence, watching her wander aimlessly for over two hours quickly loses its appeal (Though I'll take it over watching Jeanne Moreau wander aimlessly for over two hours in "La Notte"). Occasional sparks of interest go nowhere, as in her quest to find the lost dog. The "African" sequence is far more shocking today than it was half a century ago, seeing how it flies in the face of today's overbearing political correctness. None of these episodes amount to much; we already get where Antonioni is going from the opening sequence in which the two lovers are monosyllabically calling it quits. If you enjoy watching paint dry and then analyzing a blank canvas, this film will provide lots of fodder.
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Lack of Communication, Emptiness and Loneliness in the Big City
Claudio Carvalho1 May 2007
In the suburb of Rome, the translator Vittoria (Monica Vitti) breaks her engagement with her boyfriend, the writer Ricardo (Francisco Rabal), after a troubled night. Vittoria goes to downtown to meet her mother (Lilla Brignone), who is addicted in Stock Market, and she meets the broker Piero (Alain Delon) in a day of crash in the Stock Market. The materialist Piero and the absent Vittoria begins a monosyllabic relationship.

"L'Eclisse" is a love story in the world of Michelangelo Antoniani, where the lack of communication, emptiness and loneliness in the big city prevails over the human feelings. The first ten or fifteen minutes with Vittoria and Riccardo alone in his apartment, practically without any words (actually very few words are spoken), is amazing, showing a couple whose love and relationship is completely exhausted. The scenes in the Stock Market of Rome are also very impressive. Monica Vitti, the favorite actress of Antonioni, shows a stunning beauty and her alienation of feelings is expressed by her face and few words along the story. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Eclipse" ("The Eclipse")
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Beyond Easy Analysis
TedMichaelMor12 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Writing even as layperson about Antonioni, one wonders whether one needs to master, for example, semiotics or some other discipline to earn the right to comment. Discussion of Antonioni films can be fruitfully technical or philosophically rich. When the films invite comment, they seem to invite either disparagement for being too intellectual or praise given in either technical or theoretical language. For my taste, too many commentators disparage his films as elitist and difficult.

Watching an Antonioni film might involve taking part in a different kind of cinema than watching the latest John Woo blockbuster. To say that Michelangelo Antonioni changed how some of us watch film is a truism. Maybe, every film shapes how we watch other movies.

Antonioni makes me more aware of the architecture of scene—that is just one aspect of his work. Discussion of this would involve considerable work that one can read in the literature about his work. Antonioni uses sound in unique ways.

What makes commenting on any of these films difficult is their immense beauty—beautiful on many levels and in multifarious ways. His movies do entertain—I watch them in utter fascination. I have watched them in theatres with other ordinary filmgoers who are also in silent rapture.

Famous like Hitchcock for comments about actors, Antonioni works with excellent actors though Vanessa Redgrave made light of her work in one of the films. However, Jack Nicholson seemed to relish being part of one of them.

"L'eclisse" still lies beyond my ability to analyse it with the freshness this lovely work of art deserves. It is easy for reviewers to disparage this or that aspect of it. One might consider the closing a cheap and lazy ending. I find that ending one of the greatest moments in cinema.
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The sexiest but saddest of the dysfunctional love trilogy
Framescourer25 January 2009
An extraordinary vehicle for the beautiful Monica Vitti, feverishly pursued by Alain Delon's matinée idol. This film is the most fevered of the three films in which love, spawned in the petri dish of modern Italy, finds itself diseased. We have had the immorality of L'Avventura; now to counter the drifting, existential torpor of La Notte, L'Eclisse deals in the speed and hysteria of modern love itself.

In fact, L'Eclisse starts where La Notte left off, with a couple lounging in the aspic of their own company. It's a potentially disastrous start to a movie to open with such a dramatic void! However, we quickly move on to the not-so-subtle central metaphor of the movie, the stock exchange, a bear pit of restlessness, in which fortunes - as in love - may go up as well as down.

Delon is the thrusting young trader Piero who, in both action and script, 'cannot stand still'. He quickly attaches himself to the alluring Vittoria (Vitti) whilst dealing for her mother. Vittoria is open to his advances but her reticence causes him to slow his suit. Eventually he wins her but the demands of their lives are not kept at bay.

Of course about them there is a constant swirl of symbols, not least in this respect the emergent one of the restless breeze - the Antonioniño, if you like - that becomes a core part of Antonioni's subsequent masterpiece Blow-Up. As in La Notte machines whirl about the characters, including a plane that looks as if it land but doesn't and a car that 'does' - but disastrously. Also, Antonioni uses a fresh idea in L'Eclisse, that of the frame. Many of the modernity-defiant situations find themselves framed, caught in time: like the African photographs; kissing (through glass panes); or trees seen through wire mesh. I couldn't help but think of Chris Marker's La Jetée, a film whose memories of a recent but lost modernity are recalled in stills.

This is very much a film about Vittoria, an independent, decisive, happy-go-lucky character pinched in the ageing rock of love and the hard place of the new, hyperactive world. The sequence in which a decadently torn dress renders her as a Roman maid is the peak of the film's symbolism. Vitti manages a marvellous performance with blossoming but fragile humour in a chic taffeta of emotional facets. If you can bear the dramatic diffusion of the final act then this could be Antonioni's finest of the three. 6/10
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Alienation Street
Asa_Nisi_Masa24 May 2007
So, I finally saw the third installment in the famous alienation trilogy (the other two movies in it being La Notte and L'Avventura). All three star Monica Vitti, Antonioni's muse of the time and girlfriend of four years' standing. Typically, L'Eclisse starts with a break-up, that of bourgeoise Vittoria (played by Vitti) and her equally bourgeois fiancé Riccardo (Rabal). The movie also ends with a break-up of sorts… or rather, the conclusion of a fledgling affair that fizzles out before it even has a chance to live, however briefly. In fact, this so-called "love affair" would have probably been but the external shell of an emotional union between a man and a woman. The rightly famous final sequence of the movie is indeed memorable - I cannot fault Martin Scorsese for gushing about it as he does in his homage to classic Italian cinema, My Voyage to Italy. I can't imagine any film student not being advised to watch the last 10 minutes of L'Eclisse by a wise course teacher.

Alain Delon could not have been better cast as a shallow and materialistic, young proto-yuppie prat. Though she was only on screen for a brief while, I admired the performance of Lilla Brignone as Vittoria's Stock Exchange-obsessed mother, completely oblivious to her daughter's emotional states throughout.

Monica Vitti, with a wardrobe as varied and flattering as Maggie Cheung's in In the Mood for Love, looks beautiful but is possibly the weakest, or most predictable of the movie's performers. It's often not in Antonioni movies that I've enjoyed her performances the most. In my view Vitti is mostly in her element as a comedienne, more specifically in the tragi-comedies known as commedie all'italiana. This is the genre that she is mostly associated with in Italy anyway, often with Alberto Sordi as a co-star. Antonioni seems to get slightly affected, over-stylised performances out of Vitti. I never get a sense that the actress fully enjoyed working for her then-boyfriend. I suppose, though, that Monica's natural comic timing and slightly goofy manner could never have been put to good use in something called "the alienation trilogy"! The nocturnal sequences of Vitti and her neighbour visiting their strange Anglophone acquaintance, whose home looks like a caricature African colonialist's haven, added some subtly dark humour and a surreal touch to the central part of the movie. When the three women go looking for the African-born expat's escaped poodle, I smilingly realised how many different forms a comedy moment can take.

Last but not least, as a Roman born in 1972, I was fascinated to see the smart but cold suburb known as EUR (originally founded by Mussolini) as it looked in the early 60s, when whole sections of it were still only half-built and semi-deserted. It was indeed an architectural embodiment of alienation! If Antonioni had been an architect, he probably would have been a brilliant one, as he completely understands what effect urban and architectural spaces have on human states of mind.
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A masterpiece
zetes19 August 2007
I saw this several years ago in a class. This was long before Criterion had a DVD, and the VHS we watched was simply awful. The subtitles were completely illegible, so I didn't get much out of it. I did like it, however. But revisiting it on DVD, the film is a revelation. It easily ranks as highly as any of Antonioni's other masterpieces. This may be his darkest, most frightening film. Monica Vitti plays a woman disillusioned with life. Her feelings are expressed in mostly abstract ways, via Antonioni's gorgeous visuals. I'm not sure any director expressed as vividly a person's feeling of being disconnected with the world around them. The story follows Vitti between two lovers, Francisco Rabal and Alain Delon. Both are self-obsessed jerks. As Vitti recedes from society, she leaves Rabal. She initially tries to resist Delon, knowing that fulfillment is equally impossible with him. But, in the end, she quietly fades back into a conventional life, giving up her existential crisis. It's a story of failure, really. And then comes the infamous finale: Antonioni separates us from the people we've become accustomed to, and we revisit the sites we've seen before. But we're alone. It's a severely ambiguous ending, and I'd guess that viewers have interpreted it any number of ways. My thought: Antonioni is challenging the audience with the same existential crisis that Vitti faced and then turned her back on. What is this strange world we live in? When I used to recall this famous ending after the first time I had seen it, I remembered it without human beings. Not true. There are people in nearly every shot. We just don't know who they are. They seem completely foreign (even though we've seen some of the people as extras earlier on), and it makes the world seem more alien, more severe. You go outside after seeing this film, you feel the same way. You feel all alone in the world. Like Tati's Playtime, it's the kind of film that can alter your perception of the world around you (of course, Playtime has the opposite effect – you feel more connected to the world around you). When he died, I was long past my Antonioni phase. I had seen all his best films years ago. It feels good to fall in love again.
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Inconsistent - scattered - amateurish
zigzag-914 November 2006
The scenes of chaos on the floor of the stock market were wonderful as was the scene of Vittoria following the man who had just lost fifty million lira in the market. Other than that, little can be said positively about this picture. Monica Vitti and Alain Delon are fine actors but their talent was wasted, their performances being high school at best, mainly because of poor direction. The last fifteen minutes of the film were totally superfluous. Director Michaelangelo Antonioni seemed to sleep walk through the production allowing the principals to improvise while taking a shallow story and dragging it out unnecessarily. At the very least though, this one is better than L'Avventura.
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Not that great
Manos6 April 2010
Although I am a fan of Antonioni, l'eclisse was not the powerful movie l'avventura was.

Antonioni again deals with the subject of human alienation, boredom, nihilism and the lack of communication. The final scene is breathtaking. The stock market scenes are perfect. But, overall, the movie didn't do it for me.

A first reason was the acting. Vitti was even more annoying than usual, while Delon was bearable. A second reason was the flow of the movie. Antonioni chose to dwell on some scenes longer than necessary and chose not to dwell on the important ones. A third reason is that Fusco's (usually) excellent music is non-existent.

If you wish to watch Antonioni at his best, go with L'avventura.
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Pretentious, artsy, unsubtle, and tremendously boring
douglass300020 March 2002
This is one of the most boring movies I have ever watched all the way through. It is pretentious and artsy-craftsy to the nth degree. There are long stretches of film with no dialogue whatever, just actors looking at each "meaningfully" or scenes of Italian city streets. It takes about 10 minutes to "get" Antonioni's message that life is meaningless, humans are unable to communicate meaningfully with each other, and urban life leads to complete alienation. After that, it is pounded into you over and over for the next two hours. There is no ending to the film; it just stops (finally). I cannot believe that IMDb viewers give this movie an 8.2 average score - I rate it a 2.
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my favourite
skarlet_68 March 2003
I love Antonioni's movies and 'L'eclisse' is one of the best movies I ever saw. Antonioni deals in a poetic, beautiful way with philosophical questions.His movies have a deep meaning, they do not let anybody indifferent, at any rate, not me...:)They offer a splendid spectacle for your eyes and a spiritual nourishment for your soul.Every gesture, glance, word have a meaning. The play of Vitti and Delon is fantastic and very moving. After having seen this movie, I literally remained speechless:) I highly recommend it to everyone! PERFECT - IN EVERY RESPECT
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Uff what a film
Yasmine19 June 2005
Well, what can I say? i've never seen such beauty in one single movie. Antonioni at his best. I've seen 5 or 6 movies that he's done but this one is my favorite. especially the last scene, that goes for about 10 minutes. I was waiting for something to happen, and nothing happens. But with this emptiness, we are completely anxious about what's gonna happen. this emptiness is so full of meaning, a vision that Antonioni masters. It is really great to see Alain Delon at a young age. Because i despise him now, and i thought i'd hate him in this movie before i've watched it. He really blew me off. I really advise everyone to see this film. it has a strange way of keeping the audience always in alert of something. A blast, really.
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Misery-index: High.
FilmSnobby12 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Watching this old fave from Antonioni -- the last of his Alienation Trilogy -- on Criterion's essential, sparkling new edition, it occurs to me yet again just how much Antonioni and a select few other directors worthy of his mettle (Godard, Resnais, Fellini, maybe a couple more) virtually redefined "classical" narrative. After all, let's face it: *L'Eclisse* seems, 43 years after its release, to be rather old hat, almost by-the-numbers. Well, 43 years of film school will do that to a medium: every major director has doubtless studied *L'Eclisse* in class, and even if today's Big-Shot Director doesn't make movies like this anymore, Antonioni's influence weighs heavily on even the most commercial work of today. More to the point, *L'Eclisse* re-conceives cinematic FORM, if not necessarily storytelling . . . but even in the latter case, its influence looms large. The drama of interiors, the less-is-more approach, the ellipses (and this movie can just as well be called "Ellipse" as "Eclipse"), the unbending refusal to "dramatize" everything to death -- these aspects are striven for in even the most commercial work of today. Of course, most commercial work is interested more in hustling popcorn than in realizing an individual aesthetic, but Antonioni, along with some of his ambitious contemporaries, quite simply redesigned movies. The great European directors from -- roughly -- the mid-Fifties to the late-Sixties can be favorably compared, in my humble opinion, to not merely the pioneering giants from cinema's Silent Era, but to the great quartet of ancient Greek drama (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes): Present at the Creation. *L'Eclisse* provides a typical example of inventing a new artistic form within the confines of old models. Remember: this movie was actually marketed for mass consumption! (Shakespeare is also an apt comparison.)

The movie bombed, of course: audiences clearly needed -- and surely still need -- a little more meat on Antonioni's cold bones. While I understand the point that the director, in this third effort of his great Alienation cycle, was paring his vision down to the bare essentials, I'm also sympathetic to the view that there might not be enough here to hold an audience. *Blow-Up*, from a few years later, covered much of the same ground thematically, but was a lot more fun, and consequently was a big hit. One gets the sense in *L'Eclisse* that Antonioni, in trying to redefine cinematic form, gets fed up with narrative conventions entirely . . . and this might not be good thing, after all is said and done. For instance, I feel we could've done without the little 7-minute still-photograph essay at the end of the film. Thematically, it adds nothing. Indeed, I'll go so far as to suggest that the scary score, with its grumbling viols and atonal, shrieking piano, has contributed more to this sequence's reputation than the actual imagery. I rarely talk about scores in my reviews, because I feel that they're the least important element in movies, and in fact are usually the equivalent of a parsley-sprig on a filet mignon. But here's a case where the score determines the entire mood. Imagine the the last 7 minutes of *L'Eclisse* backed up by, say, the introductory music of *The Simpsons*: suddenly, the imagery becomes a sharp satire of suburbia, rather than the portentous vision of humanity being swallowed up (i.e., "eclipsed") by its own modern way of life.

Well. In any case, cinephiles will inevitably add this movie to their collection. Nonetheless, I recommend it to normal, well-adjusted people, too. For the dudes, there's the gorgeous Monica Vitti to ogle; for the ladies, there's Alain Delon. And for the record, they make a spectacular couple, physically, on-screen. I suppose I still recommend *L'Avventura* as the top example of Antonioni's diagnosis of modern malaise, but the ambitious movie-watcher will digest all three in the cycle: *L'Avventura*, *La Notte*, and, of course, *L'Eclisse*. In any case, each film is only loosely connected (tied together by theme and Vitti) and stands entirely upright each on its own. If you run across *L'Eclisse* first, don't hesitate: it will be an unforgettable experience.

8 stars out of 10.
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A melancholic romantic drama that transforms itself into a shattering, cinematic experience
Graham Greene2 May 2008
An enigmatic film that focuses on the spaces between people and events, looking at the ripples left after the break-up of the first scene and leading to an apocalyptic depiction of cultural and spatial alienation in the final. Like much of his work, L' Eclisse (1962) finds director Michelangelo Antonioni creating a slow, fragmented investigation about sight and perception, about people at odds with one another and the world that they inhabit, and left hopeless and weak as their internal thoughts and fears are projected outward, against the world, creating a void that sucks the life from everything, leaving only silence. As one critic puts it, the intent of Antonioni's cinema is not character or narrative, but rather, the echo that reverberates after the story has unfolded. This is an idea that can be seen in much of the director's best work, from the other two films that form the basis of this informal trilogy, to his iconic and unconventional examination into the conventions of the thriller with Blowup (1966).

L' Eclisse begins with a scene that recalls elements of Antonioni's first film in the trilogy, L'avventura (1960), with a couple going through the motions of a break-up from late evening to early dawn. The woman wants to leave the man, who dismisses her wishes and condescends to her and her decision, eventually agreeing to let her go in the belief that she will later come back to him. The scene is slow, drawn out and disconnected to the point in which it almost becomes tedious. There are long passages of silence, sideways glances and confrontation; with the distance between the two characters, both from themselves and from the audience, further expressed by the director's use of framing and a cluttered mise-en-scene. Although they are hard to interpret on our initial viewing, these early scenes are essentially the catalyst for the film itself, setting the tone and the mood that will escalate as the story-progresses. In a conventional narrative sense, the film should really end where it begins, with the relationship resolved and all words spoken, but instead of this conventional thinking, Antonioni uses it as a springboard to something else. The rest of the film is therefore the echo of this event, the emotional fallout in which our central character attempts to reconcile her particular ideas about love and commitment that are at odds with social and economical climate of Italy of this era, eventually leading to the ultimate breakdown of communication at even its most basic of levels.

Alongside these central issues, Antonioni riffs on the ideas of confrontation and crisis, framing his story of a relationship break-up against a backdrop of a terrible-stock market crash, and suggesting at the end of the film via a headline on a newspaper of the impending "atomic age"; suggesting further ideas of confrontation and crisis that could eventually follow. He also expresses these ideas through his use of production design, editing and cinematography, with the continual interplay between light and shadow, black and white and the constant fragmenting of compositions in which actors drift in and out of frame or are filmed through windows, doorways or mirrored reflections, to the ripples of events that accumulate during the wordless, ten-minute montage that closes the film on a note of loss and disconnection. Without question, it's a lonely film; one that creates a nocturnal dream world and uses it to envelope a central character out of step with the world and indeed, within direct contrast to a character very much in control of his particular world and with both characters unable to connect, despite the very basic and very human need for touch and communication.

The themes ultimately run deeper than this, but the power of the film is somewhat more personal, either capturing your imagination and carrying you along, or leaving you cold and despondent. For me, it was a strangely shattering experience; one that didn't make itself known to me until after the film had finished and I was able to gather my initial thoughts. Watching it, I was certainly interested in the characters and concerned about the direction that the story was taking, while on a more superficial level, I loved the scenes set within the stock-market or the vague and elliptical sequence in which the central character follows a man who has just lost his entire life savings on the financial crash and observes him passively draw flowers on a napkin in an almost complete acceptance of his tragic fate; but even in spite of this, the final moments of the film and the sense of emotional connection created after the last credit had rolled, turned this film into an absolute masterpiece; one of those films that I could watch again and again and again and still find the same sense of emotional transcendence that I did the very first time.

As ever with Antonioni there will be some viewers who find the film slow and perhaps even boring (though really, there's no such thing as a boring film, just boring viewers) but for me, L' Eclisse was entirely fascinating. The way in which the individual themes, rife with the continual ideas of loss, displacement, rootless disconnection, alienation and the visual presentation of space accumulated from one scene to the next was mesmerising and slowly hypnotic. Combined with Antonioni's masterful use of shot composition, editing and production design, which turn elements of suburban Italy into an infernal labyrinth of looming apartment blocks and vast empty spaces of cloudless sky and we have a film that manages, as one viewer puts it, to change our perspective on the world. For the right kind of viewer, L' Eclisse will offer a shattering and unforgettable experience, in which the conventions of the bourgeoisie romantic melodrama are final transformed into a moment of pure, apocalyptic despair.
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A technical achievement of consummate artistry
Polaris_DiB8 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
From dictionary.com: Eclipse--1. The partial or complete obscuring, relative to a designated observer, of one celestial body by another. 2. The period of time during which such an obscuration occurs. 3. A temporary or permanent dimming or cutting off of light. 4. A fall into obscurity or disuse; a decline. 5. A disgraceful or humiliating end; a downfall.

Montage and composition are among the many different ways to fashion a film, but this film takes those techniques and controls it to such a consummate level, it seems no similar attempt can be done again without it being a pale comparison.

Right from the beginning the idea of "eclipse" and bodies or objects obscuring other bodies or objects is used to a major degree, but with a such precise control over monochromatic black-and-white gradient scheme that each individual composition is powerfully effective. The frame-within-a-frame technique, where everything in the world of this film exists in some form of composition or balance, has no parallel, except maybe with some of the modern day work by Wes Anderson... except Wes Anderson's sometimes pastel, sometimes bright color provides an entirely different effect. This movie gives off a degree of science fiction, with such utter significance to framing and blocking off things towards the idea of obscurity that it doesn't seem to exist in our world, a world where we move aside to get out of the way, or focus on infinite planes of existence rather than many.

Not all the film is like this, of course, because we do have a story, and the story is about the ultimately doomed relationship of a stock market broker and a young woman who only fits in with the world of perpendicular obscured objects. The stock market is chaotic and insane, and only follows composition when the girl is around. The symbolism is beyond obvious, it hits you over the head with a wooden mallet--which is probably one of the reasons why some people might not like this, because it's very uncomfortable and impatient to watch.

Still, if you want to avoid becoming impatient and edgy around this film, my suggestion to you would be to turn off the sound and subtitles (if necessary). The fact of the matter is that the only dialog that matters is disregarded (purposefully) by the characters and all the poignant questions and exchanges are ignored or unanswered. This movie, in fact, could benefit a lot with a little LESS plot than it currently has, because the plot itself seems to get in the way of the majesty of the film-making proper.

Not that the plot isn't important. It's just uncomfortable. What's amazing about it, really, is that the from the woman's perspective, the world of strict order and composition is amazingly comfortable, but the desire to develop comes from the man, who's world is always moving and unbalanced. So while the ultimate goal of the plot is about breaking down such composition (success being comedy and failure being tragedy), it's difficult to imagine the goal of the character impinging on the harmony the spectator enjoys. What, precisely, are we supposed to get from this anyway? That's "the thing." The plot obscures the overall theme of the movie, a theme dealing with emptiness and fear of potential doomsday (the Cold War). And once said obscured object becomes the focus of the camera, suddenly the plot is obscured itself. This film is absolutely amazingly structured, though in a way that seems rather confusing because our technical expectations have us leaning more towards figuring out what the plot, dialog, and characters mean, not what they're completely distracting us from. It seems a rather dangerous approach to film-making... what makes it amazing is that it works. It's a technical achievement of consummate artistry, and that's a hard thing to say for a film that spends the majority of its time focusing on a plot one hates.

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