Monday, July 23, 2007

Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007)

Sierra Club


Hollywood is like being nowhere and talking to nobody about nothing.


Please browse our Amazon list of titles about Michelangelo Antonioni. For rare and hard to find works we recommend our Alibris list of titles about Michelangelo Antonioni.


Films: Michelangelo Antonioni
COPAC UK: Michelangelo Antonioni
Library of Canada: Michelangelo Antonioni
Library of Congress: Michelangelo Antonioni
Other Library Catalogs: Michelangelo Antonioni


Michelangelo Antonioni (born September 29, 1912 in Ferrara, Italy) is widely seen as the greatest Italian film director after Federico Fellini.


He graduated in economics at the University of Bologna. He reached Rome in 1940 where he attended specifical studies at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Cinecitta. Here he met some of the artists with whom he cooperated in the future years; among them Roberto Rossellini.


Antonioni's first major success was L'Avventura (1960), which was followed by La Notte (1961) and L'Eclisse (1962), which comprised a trilogy on the theme of alienation.

His first English-language film, Blowup (1966), was also a major success. Though it dealt with the challenging theme of the impossibility of objective perception, it became popular, partially because it was sexually explicit by the current standards of film, and partially because it featured Vanessa Redgrave. Zabriskie Point (1970), his first film set in America, was much less successful, even though its soundtrack incorporated such popular artists as Pink Floyd (who wrote new music specifically for the film), the Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones. The Passenger (1975), which starred Jack Nicholson, was not particularly successful either. Though he continues to direct, Antonioni has never recaptured the wide appeal of his earlier work. In 1995, however, he was awarded an Academy Award for lifetime achievement.


He described himself as a Marxist intellectual, but some authors advance some doubts about his effective adherence to Marxism. In contrast with his contemporaries, including the neorealists and also Federico Fellini, Ermanno Olmi and Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose stories generally dealt with the lives of the working class and the misfits and outcasts of society, Antonioni's most notable films revolved around the elite and the urban bourgeois. However, contrary to what these critics say, his films depict his wealthy characters as empty and soulless, rather than romanticizing them. La Notte depicts the disintegration of a wealthy married couple who can no longer connect meaningfully.

L'Avventura depicts the story of a woman who goes missing during a wealthy yachting trip, and whose fiance and best friend subsequently develop a sexual relationship under the pretence of looking for her, but are unable to develop genuine love for each other;

Blowup depicts the superficial world of a 1960s fashion photographer in the "mod" scene, who in the end proves indifferent when called upon to report a potential murder. In a similar vein, Zabriskie Point is often interpreted as a criticism of American capitalism, and, though seemingly critical of bourgeois American hippies, sympathetically depicts their desire for escape. Antonioni's films also tend to be sensitive to the beauty of landscapes--such as the California desert in Zabriskie Point, or the rocky islands in L'Avventura--which adds not only to the visually stunning quality of his work, but also to his depiction of the rich as arrogant lost souls vainly attempting to impose their finite will upon an unyielding and sublime nature. Thus, despite his critics, Antonioni's films ruthlessly dissect the rich with a disapproving Marxist sensibility, even as his camerawork displays a fascination for the ornate settings of the wealthy class.


Ingmar Bergman once remarked that he admired some of Antonioni's films for their detached and sometimes dreamlike quality. His films tend to have very spare plots and dialogue, and much of the screen time is spent lingering on certain settings--such as the ten-minute continuous take in The Passenger, or the many scenes in La Notte which show the female character simply wandering the city silently observing other people. Though his films are full of visual beauty, and are perfectly calculated to capture the alienation of the characters, the spare, slow-moving style by which this is accomplished is off-putting to some viewers.

Filmography[This article in part is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Michelangelo Antonioni.]

Books from Alibris: Michelangelo Antonioni

No comments: