Synchronicity
On Being Jaded (or Not)

Antonioni's L'Eclisse

Last weekend I finally saw this (The Eclipse), the last in the so-called (not by the director) trilogy that also includes L'Avventura and La Notte. Judging by other comments I've read here and there, I'm not alone in thinking L'Avventura the best of the three. And I might have said this is the worst if not for the last ten minutes. The section from the moment Vittoria walks out of the building until the end of the film might be the most haunting ten minutes or so of cinema I've ever experienced. Late last night, about to put the disk into its envelope for return to Netflix, I wanted to see it one last time and ended up watching it three times in a row. I think I could have sat there for an hour or more watching those ten minutes over and over again.

It's just a series of shots of mostly empty urban spaces moving from daylight to darkness. There's no way I could describe it in any way that would communicate the effect, and I can't even expect that anyone else would have this reaction. My wife didn't ("heavy-handed" was her comment).

As for the movie as a whole: well, it almost seemed at times a parody of brooding European modernism. It's almost plotless, and even such narrative movement as there is stalls frequently and is sometimes simply uninteresting. And I am forced to consider the possibility that Monica Vitti was really not such a great actress. Someone has said she was "born to be an icon." Yes, but that's not the same thing as being an actress. Her face is magical, and you can see why Antonioni dwells on it, but I found her a little unconvincing when she was doing anything in particular aside from looking deep and mysterious. But there are enough instances of the Antonioni visual magic to make it interesting. And you have to have seen the whole thing to understand some of what appears in the conclusion.

UPDATE: in case you don't know what Monica Vitti looks like--I think this is from L'Avventura:

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