Alain Delon and Monica Vitti

Existential girl Monica Vitti meets material boy Alain Delon in L’Eclisse (The Eclipse), the last of Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Incommunicability” trilogy and by a stretch the easiest to watch. Whether this, L’Avventura and La Notte actually are thematically a trilogy at all is an argument best left for another day, but Antonioni didn’t see them that way – it was critics who lumped them together. What does definitely link all three is Monica Vitti – as a peripheral character who becomes much more important in L’Avventura, as chunky co-lead in La Notte but absolutely the main event here, from first shot to last. Antonioni starts the film with a brilliant scene set in a … Read more


Sandro and Claudia

When L’Avventura debuted at the Cannes film festival in 1960 the reception was so unfavourable that the director, Michelangelo Antonioni, and his star, Monica Vitti, ended up beating a hasty retreat from the cinema where it was being shown. Up to the point where they decided it wasn’t worth it any more they’d endured boos, jeers, laughs and shouts of “Cut!” in scenes which, the audience felt, just ran on too long. Everyone’s a critic. By the next day sentiment had started to shift. The film went on to win the Jury Prize – among those on the jury were the writers Henry Miller and Georges Simenon, so a tough crowd – and … Read more

La Notte

Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni

It’s called The Night, the IMDb tells us, though I’ve never heard Antonioni’s 1961 drama called anything but La Notte. So let’s use the original title. It’s pithy. As Italian phrases go this one is not hard to say and it’s distinctive. There are plenty of films called The Night already. The title is as stark as the film’s opening moments. The credits are written in an unfussy sans serif font. The theme music is atonal. The first images we see are of glass and steel buildings shot to emphasise their angularity. La Notte is the mid-century modern movie – sleek, unadorned, made out of good materials and not entirely comfortable. Isn’t life … Read more