The Eclipse (1962) – Michelangelo Antonioni 

 

Continuing my exploration of the drama genre after my viewing of Last Tango in Paris for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book. So I settled in to have my introduction to the films of Antonioni, and, I liked what I saw.

The shots, looks and moments are all wonderfully composed, as we follow the lovely Vittoria (Monica Vitti) as she leaves a relationship with an older man, Riccardo (Francisco Rabal) as he no longer makes her happy, despite that is all he wants to do.

She wanders the empty  suburban sprawl, monuments to materialism, but all empty, just like her own emotional state. She wanders, meeting up with her mother (Lila Brignone)at the local stock exchange, the only place that seems to be alive, but only in an eager fight for more money.

It is here that she meets Piero (Alain Delon) an eager and friendly young man, and there is an instant attraction. He, however, despite being attracted to her, is more in love with the stock exchange, and the accumulation of more, the need for more money.

In those quiet moments that she gets away from the city, she is at her happiest, flying in a plane amongst the clouds, or in the country, and yet she keeps returning to the city, a place where Piero doesn’t ever seem willing to leave.

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Even when it all falls apart and he loses millions of lire, and those of his investors. Vittoria’s mother loses money in the deal as well, and yet, instead of learning, both of them continue with their obsession, hoping to garner more money.

She falls in love with Piero, despite wishing she couldn’t, as she knows that the relationship is doomed from its beginnings. She is an innocent, and pure, not needing the materialism that seems to be driving everyone else around her.

Vittoria seems completely out of her place and time, wanting love and happiness, but unable to find them as her own needs seems to be completely unaligned with all those around her, and consequently her relationships are doomed. In a world where everyone equates happiness with the gathering of material things, be it things or people, she is more invested in the emotions as opposed to possessions. 

Antonioni has made a film that is lovely to look at and gorgeously photographed, with the stunning Vitti at its center, accompanied by some gorgeous scenery.

A potent commentary on modern relationships, and the differences in the people who pursue them.

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