L’Avventura (English: The Adventure) released in 1960 is perhaps the hardest yet most worthwhile film to appreciate in our class roster for the semester. The film forces our attention with long pauses that tend to get draggy as the film forges on. It seemed to me that the mood and the characters were the central focuses of director Michelangelo Antonioni instead of the story and narrative.
Yet for most if not all the film’s viewers, it becomes quite hard to make sense of the muddled plot in all of this chaos. It reads like a warning to the rich and privileged that the act of traveling can very well reveal uncomfortable personal truths, derail your carefully-cultivated relationships, and throw you into existential crisis.
Through the film’s runtime, it felt as though the film was not really plot-centered anymore as the movie started to wear on Antonioni’s directing style has always been noted for exploiting colors and this showed as the film highlighted the many beautiful images director was able to capture in the absence of plot. It almost afforded him a certain kind of creative freedom and elevated the cinematography to another level. However, as only a casual filmgoer who never completely understood these technical aspects of film, it took a while to appreciate the cinematography.
Later on, though, I felt I grew to understand it at least a little bit: in the absence of Anna, for instance, the shots of choice served to heighten the growing tension among the group of friends, as well as the feeling of lostness that came with being on their own in an island far from civilization.
It comes off as a modernist piece of art that does away with the story. However, it doesn’t do this in the same way as the willfully obtuse Holy Motors does: there is a clear story here; it just doesn’t seem to want you to follow it. In fact, the execution here is the complete opposite: rather than take hold of the audience’s attention with an eclectic, sensory experience, the film leaves you to your own devices and leaves you to make sense of the visuals on your own.
Truthfully, I felt like I could not figure out any of the characters’ motivations as they were all rather blank and opaque in their own ways. This was one way the use of color (or lack thereof) was exploited as the black and white definitely contributed to this as well.
At the end, the question remains: Where is Anna? Yet, as a viewer, I found that this was not the most pressing matter anymore once the final credit rolled.