L’Avventura (Antonioni, 1960)

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In L’Avventura, a few days seem to span a lifetime. As a friend disappears, Claudia fears the worst… to find out her friend has died, is to die herself. Along with the fiancée, they search. Love’s lost, love blooms and love is lost again; nothing is made to last.

Sandro leans against the side of a wall, in a city that must have built a few hundred years ago. He glances around him, maybe he glances at Claudia. He tells her that he wants to quit his job, because once he thought he could create something beautiful, something that would last. Once, people built cities and buildings as an art, and more than that, they were built to last forever. Nothing today is built to last, not more than twenty years at least. Apparently neither is life. It’s not even a matter that death is hanging over all of us, but existence. The film is less concerned with the idea of mortality, than it is with the idea of legacy. We will all die, and it doesn’t seem to be much of a concern, at least not as much as will we be forgotten?

There is a concern for space in L’Avventura, an obsessive need to distance and alienate the characters through positioning. The land and surroundings often seem more alive than the characters, though serving equally as a metaphor for our cold, detached existence. Is life a series of repetitive and meaningless encounters? How can two islands meet, but for an accidental calling? When Claudia rings the bells in the church, purely by accident, she finds a strong joy in the response from a similar tower across. She looks over and rings again, met by yet another response. There is actually a small amount of joy that hangs around after this scene, even amidst moments of hopelessness. It seems to instigate passion, if only momentarily. She has made contact with the world, at last.

I wonder if Vicci’s beauty will be as enduring as the spaces she occupies? Though modernity seems plagued with an indecisive impermanence, on celluloid her face occupies is immortalized. Is art the real key to immortality? Our only root passage into the future? If nothing’s meant to last, why can’t we hold onto those precious moments, instead lingering on the ones we’ve lost, or else the ones we’re going to lose. There is the impossibility for us to live in the moment, forever looking back and forever looking forward.

They’re always drifting through abandoned churches, but the only conversation about religion happens when a bible is discovered. What does it mean? According to the father, it’s proof she couldn’t have killed herself. Anna was loved, but she didn’t believe that someone could love her. They were in love with something else. Perhaps, it’s the idea that she presents early on. When you have someone in front of you, that’s all you have, when you’re apart… there is so much more.

Why do we need confirmation? Almost more importantly, why do we fear it? Why can’t I just love, why can’t you just say you do? It’s the complication of relationships and identity, an instinctive fear of sharing, or intruding. Words are fickle, but so are actions. There is little we can trust, not even ourselves.

All of this is troubling, it’s all very cold and grey.
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3 responses to “L’Avventura (Antonioni, 1960)

  1. it’s the movie that made 2 hours of NOTHING happening actually mean something. Never have I been more bored watching a movie (hell, I ended up singling out extras in party scenes and outdoor scenes and comparing them to famous celebrities by look just to pass the time 😛 ), wanting SOMETHING to happen to these characters, but it never does, and that’s the point entirely. Antonioni nailed the idea of people of this ilk just drifting through life without purpose, where even an ordinarily thriller-inducing catalyst of a Marion Crane-like fake protagonist disappearing and never returning amounts to nothing.

    It’s a profound movie, but frankly I’d rather stick cocktail toothpicks into my eyeballs and pull ’em out than have to watch it again…which is the point, and ay, there’s the rub.

  2. It is a bit “cold”, so to speak and there were some long stretches where it was pretty unbearable. I overall was involved more or less in the story, characters and events. I was telling someone about it last night, and saying how I think I’d be more willing to give myself over to it in a theatrical setting. I hope so anyway, because it teeters a fine line.

    Interesting comparison to Marion Crane, I actually thought that while watching the film… interesting.

  3. It is a bit “cold”, so to speak and there were some long stretches where it was pretty unbearable. I overall was involved more or less in the story, characters and events. I was telling someone about it last night, and saying how I think I’d be more willing to give myself over to it in a theatrical setting. I hope so anyway, because it teeters a fine line.

    Interesting comparison to Marion Crane, I actually thought that while watching the film… interesting.

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