Honored at the 1960 Cannes International Film Festival for “a new movie language and the beauty of its images” – L’avventura by Michelangelo Antonioni is one of the most legendary films made in the 1960’s. A vast audience might say otherwise, given that it can be superficially perceived as merely just a film that reveled in stunning black and white images. Moreover, the film was populated by attractive actors, oozing in sex appeal, such as Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti, and Lea Massari. With its dazzling aesthetics, it can always be mistaken as just that.
With regards to the plot, it may seem as if things were left out in the open, unfinished and unresolved. This may have led to the audience’s frustration and disappointment because it is a usual element for films to have a closure and a clear path along a series of events. Critiques find the plot to be uneventful with very much a slow pacing. However, Antonioni, broke the rules of cinema’s standards so elegantly by establishing great scenes despite its unconventionality and downtempo.
One great feature in the film is its visuals as praised by many. It is rare to find such camera power to magnify the emotional sterility of the film and to capture the vast loneliness of the characters desperately searching for satisfaction in the wrong places.
The film potentializes the conflict to revolve around Anna’s disappearance leading people to think that there is a certain “something” to be solved. However, the film would later on show that there is no actual answer and instead, focuses on the other characters, leaving the mystery to remain a mystery until the end of screening. Given that there is actually nothing to wait for, this film might seem like a waste of time.
But once, one realizes that its nothingness- be it the shallowness of the elites, the emptiness of their hearts and souls and the desolate vacancy that desires to be occupied- one realizes that this is everything the film wants to deliver.
This would lead people to think- Was the disappearance of Anna really necessary to have catapulted the growing sexual tensions between Sandro and Claudia? – or was it just a random starting point to show that even in the most challenging times such a woman who happens to be a best friend and a lover, was missing in the island- that nothing would ever actually matter for wealthy, bored and spoiled elites?
This film straightforwardly shoots its message right through the screen- that often times, pleasure is the one instrument that momentarily distracts people from the pernicious lassitude of their existence and it does not matter if their decisions hurt anybody because people are always too sorry for themselves to even be sorry for their actions.
With nostalgic Sicilian strummings and nervewracking, edgy percussive beats, the film exhibits the rich unending landscape of both reality and fiction. With an absolutely contemporary setting, the film stands tenacious with its norm-defying openess and experimentation. With a plot consisting of nothingness rooted from the everythingness of contemporary internal issues of modern day elites, new generations of work has followed such directions, leading L’avventura to leave a mark in the post neorealist scene.