Monica Vitti, from Alienated Beauty to Madcap Comedienne


“Though she was a widely beloved star of Italian and international comedies in the late 1960s and ’70s, Monica Vitti, who has passed away at the age of ninety, will be remembered first and foremost for the four films she made with Michelangelo Antonioni between 1960 and 1964. In 2014, the great critic Gilberto Perez ranked this remarkable pairing of director and star with those of D. W. Griffith and Lillian Gish, Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich, and Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina. But while ‘it may be said that, in these cases, the woman is a figure of beauty, an object of contemplation for the man behind the camera,’ the dynamic between Antonioni and Vitti was altogether different. Vitti’s undeniable beauty may have been ‘more tentative’ than that of Gish, Dietrich, or Karina, but it was thoroughly ‘in keeping with the unsettled, questioning beauty of Antonioni’s visual style,’ wrote Perez. ‘And in her films with him, Vitti is as much beholding as beheld, identified with the director, whose gaze she doubles. Other male directors have adopted the point of view of a female character, but none has made a woman his surrogate in the way that Antonioni has Monica Vitti.’ … Antonioni had her dub over Dorian Gray’s performance in Il grido (1957), a film that, despite winning the Golden Leopard in Locarno, did so poorly at the box office that the director seriously considered abandoning cinema and returning to the theater. Instead, he set to work on L’avventura, an enigmatic story that seems at first to focus on a not particularly happy couple, Anna (Lea Massari) and Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti). Together with Anna’s friend, Claudia (Vitti), they join two wealthy couples on a yacht and set sail along the Sicilian coast. During a stopover, Anna goes missing, and while the party searches for her, Claudia and Sandro find themselves drawn to each other. L’avventura premiered in Cannes in 1960 and won a jury prize. The Palme d’Or went to Federico Fellini’s La dolce vita, another landmark film signaling Italian cinema’s break with neorealism. …”
Criterion
L’Avventura’: Michelangelo Antonioni’s Visual Poetry and Its Impact on the World of Film (Video)
What makes Antonioni’s L’avventura great, YouTube: Observations on Film Art: The Restraint of L’AVVENTURA
1960s: Days of Rage – Michelangelo Antonioni: L’Avventura (1960), La Notte (1961), L’Eclisse (1962), Red Desert – Michelangelo Antonioni (1962)


L’Avventura (1960)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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