In memory of Michelangelo Antonioni
The central part of this program of one of the greatest authors following World War II is the series of four films The Adventure, The Night , The Eclipse and The Red Desert made in the first half of the 1960s which presents the core of Antonioni’s opus. His tendency to identify a radically new film method of depicting the inner life of his protagonists, which significantly minimizes the importance of the story and events, reaches its full maturity in these four films.
Therefore, in The Adventure the quest for a missing girl is important only to show how with the passage of time the feelings of her friends change and later the relationship between her fiancée and her friend stems from prevailing, at the time according to the author, the most important problem of the modern man - the inability to communicate. In his next three films Antonioni is even more interested in depicting the contemporary sensibility, changes of love and the relationship between contemporary men and women. The film style he uses to reveal such states is usually based on long sequences (most often in silence) in which on the face of the protagonist the camera lurks for those short moments when all masks fall down and when a seemingly uncontrolled twitch on the face reveals the true psychological state, otherwise carefully hidden. The woman is always in the foreground, partially thanks to the fascinating interpretations of his partner and acting muse Monica Vitti. The ambiance in which his characters meet is equally important and also becomes a protagonist of his films. This is especially evident when he shoots landscapes in such a way that they become symbols of the psychological states of his protagonists who roam not only inner labyrinths but also real ones consisting of things and landscapes around them. Thus these portrayals of inner and real labyrinths symbolize the development of civilization that dehumanizes people and takes away their feelings.
These elements were apparent in Antonioni’s earlier works, which explains why he was not such an important author in the period when Italian neorealism dominated European film. Nevertheless, Antonioni, as a film critic for the magazine Cinema, helped form the style’s basic principles. Even though some of his films, such as documentaries from the second half of 1940s and feature films from 1950s (in this program we will see The Vanquished and The Cry ) had some elements from the dominant style of neorealism, he rather used them as a starting point for the analysis of psychological states, and therefore was not so interesting neither to the audience or the critics. Only some of them recognized in him as a talented filmmaker that he was and characterized his style as the neorealism of the soul.
On the other hand - after he managed to fulfill all of his stylistic and thematic tendencies to depict psychological states on film in the aforementioned series and eventually ended up in an emotional desert - in his later works he sought an exit by questioning moral issues and fight against violence and true identity. Also, he was very much intrigued by the role of media in forming characters, which is evident in Identification of a Woman in which the medium of film enables the protagonist to solve his personal problems and Antonioni tries out the new possibilities that video has to offer to the world of the moving pictures. (Tomislav Kurelec)