L’Avventura: Emotions in an Existential World

Brooding and Self-pitying, Michaelangelo Antonioni’s 1960’s film, L’Avventura, showcases the uneasy reality of civilized love in an Existential world. At first, one might think that the film would revolve around Anna, Sandro’s suddenly-missing fiance, as she goes missing and the characters try their best to find her and, in doing that, unintentionally starts drama and have realizations about Anna’s true character and intentions – much like in Gone Girl and Pretty Little Liars. However, a dig deeper in the film, especially as it progresses, makes the audience realize that the film dedicates itself to revealing gender politics, especially in Italian 1960’s, and the inner loneliness and turmoil that the characters have as they find their places in discovering meaning from their empty lives. At first, it was confusing why, in some parts of the film, the characters would randomly do things that would get others’ attention. For instance, Anna makes up a story that a shark was swimming near them, consequently forcing everyone to panic and go back to their boat. However, when she was asked by Claudia why she did that, she merely shrugs and says, “Because.” There was also an instance when Sandro intentionally ruins an art piece by spilling ink all over it. This caused the young artist to get mad at him and tries to pick a fight with him, with Sandro nonchalantly saying, “Why would I do that?” In persepective, they may have done these “random,” mischievious actions, because, as stated before, in their dull, meaningless, and lonely lives, maybe they wanted some spice and excitement in their lonely, bleak lives.  

The film would also exhibit men in different life stages. There was the 17-year-old prince who paints nothing other than nude pictures of women, Sandro, a romantic marrying-age man, Giovanni, a married man who ignores his wife, Anna’s father, a retired diplomat, and unforgettably, the hordes of men that tend to flock over pretty women like Claudia and the woman who had a rip in the hem of her skirt. A common denominator on most of these men is their exhibition of lust and their desire to find the “ideal” partner. This is with the exeption on Anna’s retired father, who’s now sole focus is his daughter. However, again with the exception of Anna’s father, the depiction of these men with their active libido may have foreshadowed what Sandro did in the last part of the film. Furthermore, Sandro’s advances with Claudia was a red flag. For one, he is technically still engaged to Anna even though she is missing. Second, his advances show that he may have already forgotten about Anna, despite him telling Claudia that he did love Anna. This may indicate that Sandro may have not loved Anna anymore even when Anna was not yet missing — or he did not love her at all, especially when he begrudgingly told Anna that he was marrying her. Furthermore, his quick pace of moving on from Anna with Claudia, as well as his nonchalantness with the affair may indicate that he had already done it before, especially since he and Anna only saw each other every couple of months. This is why it was not surprising when he was revealed to have cheated on Claudia after the party — even though Claudia was surprised about it.

What frustrated me, however, was how the women in the film were controlled by their emotions. Although she initially tried to ignore it, Claudia eventually started a full-blown affair with Sandro. Furthermore, although at the start of the film, she was hell-bent on finding Anna, the latter part of the film portrayed how Claudia did not want Anna to be found anymore as she was scared that Sandro would leave her for his unofficial former lover. Moreover, when Claudia found out that Sandro cheated on her, she was distraught — one would even think she would end their relationship once Sandro caught up with her. However, when Claudia saw a weeping Sandro, she caressed his back as if saying that she forgives him. This can be seen as idealistic, as it usually happens in real life – people cheat, and their partners usually forgive them when they show emotions. This, however, portrays how Claudia can be swept by emotions, neglecting the reason regarding the events that had occurred. Giulia was also swept by her emotions. In her loneliness and frustration from being ignored by her husband, she slept with the 17-year-old prince.

Conclusively, L’Avventura is a lot of things, but overall, it is a film that depicts the loneliness and bleakness of the life of characters, however rich the characters may be, as they struggle to achieve the “ideal” life, mostly through romance. I would say that I liked the film, however, it morally disturbed me through its dramatics and its characters’ lack of values due to the shallowness of their lifestyles—which I think is what it is trying to achieve.

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