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aka - Adventure, The
Italy 1960
Directed by
Michelangelo Antonioni
145 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Avventura, L'

Antonioni's film is benchmark in the history of art cinema and in the director's own work. Everybody remembers the sequence involving the disappearance of Anna (Lea Massari) during the outing of a group of idle and rich upper-class Romans to a barren Sicilian island although few recall the rambling 2 hour plus remainder of the film.

The first of a trilogy that included La Notte (1961) and L'Eclisse (1962) it was booed when initially shown at Cannes although a passionate defence from the critics earned it the Special Jury Prize "for a new movie language and the beauty of its images". This pretty much sums up the film's strengths and weaknesses. It went on to widespread critical and commercial success and is generally regarded as the film in which Antonioni crystallized his style (it was his seventh feature but his first use of the wide-screen format) and made his mark in film history, particularly though his distinctive placing of his characters in relation to their environment - often producing a De Chirico-like sense of detachment and isolation.

From an historiographic perspective all this makes the film significant however in itself, as a viewing expereince for many it will be far from satisfying. The key plot point, the mysterious disappearance of Anna, recedes into the background only to be taken over by the relationship between her best-friend (Monica Vitti, who, much like Anna Karina for Godard, Vitti went on to be Antonioni’s muse and his regular lead actress0 and lover (Gabriele Ferzetti). Neither of these are particularly compelling performances, the role of Sandro cries out for Marcello Mastroianni, perhaps because the actors were struggling under the weight of Antonioni’s desire to show the impossibility of love, or the sublimation of libidinal urges.

DVD Extras: The two-DVD set includes the original theatrical trailer, commentary by critic Jake Wilson, and two overlapping documentaries Documents and Testimonials a rather gushing overview of his career up to 1966 and Michelangelo Antonioni: A Portrait, one of a series on film directors made for Italian television.

Available from: Madman




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