Funny I'd swap the titles between L'Avventura and L'Eclisse...
where the real eclipse is in L'Avventura and the love affair is
This film should be called 2 hours with Monica Vitti ! There is
tangible love between Antonioni and Monica Vitti in every plan,
it's orgasmic. She is a sex symbol and is used as such, a glamour
object of desire. Each scene is an excuse to film her under a
new angle, her legs, more feet , her face, her mouth, her eyes...
But it isn't just show off, as Antonioni uses a lot of suggestive
framing, cutting out Vitti's body in pieces, with often back shots,
or Vitti hiding her face behind her hair. Vitti gloomy, Vitti
clueless, Vitti laughing, Vitti temptress, Vitti seduced. The
"playing negroes danse" scene is memorable!
The sexiest shot being her exiting the cab in a roman street outside
the stock market, we can hear impatient cars honking and Monica
Vitti, medium shot, turns to us full screen, look into the camera
and does that pout with her hands pushing away, meaning "hey
shuddup, calm down, will you?", and walks away with a superbe
confidence. What a woman!
Almost as lovable as Audrey Hepburn, only darker. And certainly
sexier than Brigitte Bardot or Anna Karina!
Outstanding opening sequence! Probably one of the most powerful
of cinema history. We are thrown in the middle of a break up scene,
at dawn, after a nightlong tearful discussion (never disclosed
to us). Yet the tension in the air is as thick as if this was
the ending sequence of a 2h film when we are totally familiar
with the characters. They don't talk much and every move tells
a long lasting love affair is irremediably over and dead. The
silence between them is uncomfortable to us too. Again the mise-en-scene
of the whole scene is incredibly inspired! The way characters
are shot separately or blocking each other in the same frame,
The dialogue is pointless, the body language matters most, and
this embarassed feeling to simultaneously want to rush out in
disgust and stay out of pity. After more painfuly worthless words
this is the end, Vittoria beguins the film with a page of her
life turned, loaded with a hurting emotional guilt, desillusioned
Then the film introduces us with the stock market ambiance which
seems a totally random choice of context... the materialistic
nature of the golden boy (french lover Alain Delon) being terribly
stereotypical all throughout. That is where the distanced cynism
from the Nouvelle Vague can be found. A little heavyhanded but
well captured description of the market business in a superbly
The rest of the film is deliciously cut into womanly slices of
life, with Vittoria playing hide and seek with herself, with love
and with Piero, expressing great many concerns in her soul without
overstating them. Pictures and mise-en-scene show the inconciliable
distance between them, their opposite personality, the impossible
love, the irrepessible urge to love or be loved. Highlighted with
"mots d'auteurs" aplenty, intellectual reflexions about
men, women, love and life. And funky plans like the child crossing
the road before them, the gunshot in the air balloon, the kiss
behind the glass, the mimic of lovers they saw in the street (all
this is very Nouvelle Vague!)
The episode with the woman from Kenya, the negro dance, the poddle
chase is quite deconcerting. I'm not sure I understand the full
meaning behind it.
The ending sequence is a fantastic photography manifesto! consisting
in a 10 min long slideshow of night footage around teh block where
they used to meet. Not only this is a beautiful way to end a film
without dialogue, without even the main characters, in a pure
aesthetic statement (which I believe is the main point of the
film entirely) but it leaves the love affair open ended, and us
pondering on the next move of the protagonists.
While watching these magnificent shots of scafolding, architecture
details, city scape, light study... it reminded me of Bergman
& Nykvist's manifesto in Persona prolog made 4 years later.
quibble : italian tradition to post-synchronize dubbing... which
makes terrible ambiant sounds, and unfelt dialogues.