What if the shoe did not fit Cinderella’s feet and was doomed to spend her life with her evil sisters? What if Dorothy never found her way home from the magical land of Oz? What if Harry did not bump into Sally anymore?
Hollywood cinema has constantly presented to us an orthodox equation of a film in its combination of elements and themes. The cinematic world is accustomed to follow the norms that should come into play in a typical film. We have already acquainted ourselves with these norms as we already search for them even at the very start of the film. We expect the cinematic universe to follow a linear and comprehensive plot which provides a problem and resolution at the end of the film. But, that is not always the case, especially with Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’avventura.
At the start of the film Michelangelo Antonioni introduces us to a romantic relationship between Sandro and his girlfriend, Anna, as they off to go on a cruise off the coast of Sicily. As the yacht comes to a stop at a volcanic island, Anna takes a walk and was never seen again. At this point, Antonioni catches us off guard from the abrupt change in plot. What seemed to be a love story turns into a mystery as the same recurring question continues to resurface in our head, “where is Anna?”. An extensive search was conducted by the rest of the characters in the film, yet she was never found. If a linear plot were to follow this film, it would have focused on a mysterious search for Anna, looking for clues on her disappearance. But Anna’s disappearance only paved the way for another turn of events and scenarios of Antonioni’s film that will come into play. In fact, Anna’s disappearance gave the film an opportunity to progress the story further. Which, in return, lead to the love story between Claudia and Sandro.
The tables have turned at this point of the film when the missing Anna has been forgotten by the characters. Here, Antonioni puts focus on the romantic relationship between Claudia and Sandro. But, at that point of the film, in the back of our mind, we still wonder about the whereabouts of Anna as she still seems to be missing. Whether we admit it or not, we are still waiting for her to pop out of the scene and catch Claudia and Sandro in the act. Instead, the film ended without a conclusion or solution as to where Anna was.
The element of unpredictability of Antonioni’s film caught us off guard. It may have been racking our own brains at the end of the film as we are left with a puzzle that is missing one last piece. The unconventionalism of the film introduced us to what they would call “anti-cinema”. L’avventura can be considered as an anti-cinematic film that does not provide a resolution to the problem in the ending, nor did it solve the mystery of how Anna went missing. Antonioni seemed to provide us with merely a distraction thinking what we think this film was going to be about which only made the plot unforeseeable.