Careful character development and still, quiet cinematography are hallmarks of Michelangelo Antonioni’s work. Current directors, such as Steve McQueen, masterfully adopted this technique to allow viewers to be with the characters, delving into their worlds, and truly experiencing their joys and inner turmoil. These emotions among many others are involved in human existence. However, true happiness is not quite as prevalent through Antonioni’s exploration of human vanity and emptiness in his renowned trilogy of films exploring this topic through the bourgeoisie lifestyle. “L’Avventura” is the first of the three films, the others being “La Notte” (1961) and “L’eclisse” (1962), probing into the reality of relationship progression, hurt, loss, vapidity, and guilt.
Anna (Lea Massari) and Claudia (Monica Vitti, a staple actress in this trilogy) are two beautiful best friends who go on a boating vacation off the glorious Italian coast with their wealthy companions. Anna is reunited with Sandro (Gabriel Ferzetti), her boyfriend who is often away on business trips. It becomes evident from their interactions that there is a high level of distance in their relationship, with Anna needing attention so that Sandro can ultimately prove his love. During the boating trip, Anna becomes a missing person – quite a terrifying ordeal. While search parties ensue, the dissolution and strengthening of various relationships within and closely surrounding that circle of friends occur. Concern for Anna’s wellbeing dissipates among some yet unsettles others. Claudia and Sandro’s bond further develops, with the looming idea of Anna threatening to squander and appropriately create guilt in said relationship.
The word “adventure” is usually associated with heroic tales of self-discovery, positively changing the course of one’s life. In this film’s context, this word drips with cynicism. The escapade undergone by characters in the film is filled with feelings of isolation, sadness, boredom, betrayal, as well as other aforementioned emotive nouns in their self-discovery. The wealthy background of each character has only masqueraded their true loneliness, and the road to fulfillment may damage others’ self-perceptions. This journey is unfortunately fuelled by a necessity to create detachment, as is evident with Claudia and Sandro’s coupling. These emotions are normal, raw human experiences, and many move day to day in life’s “adventure” feeling partial and disengaged for various reasons. This film reminds us of this reality, but also of the importance of creating meaningful, honest relationships and being true to one’s self. Authenticity is key in feeling whole, which is one factor responsible for increasing resiliency against life’s strains and hardships.
I do not own the above image.