Tuesday, July 31, 2007

R.I.P. Antonioni


„I feel like a father towards my old films. You bring children into the world, then they grow up and go off on their own. From time to time you get together, and it's always a pleasure to see them again.”

(Antonioni, 29 September 1912 – 30 July 2007)


Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni died peacefully yesterday evening in his home, surrounded with family members. He was 94 years old. Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni announced a public viewing of Antonioni's body tomorrow at City Hall.

I can hardly believe it... because lately I spoke a lot about him and Bergman and here they are, dancing together away. Both died on a same day. It is a bit hard for me to say anything at this moment. I am truly overwhelmed with emotions. This is just too much at once…

I remember seeing Antonioni’s movie called Blowup, made in 1966. I saw the mentioned movie much later, because I wasn’t even born when the movie was released. I can tell you one thing. The title was perfect because I was definitely blown up and I knew I had to see all of his movies right away! I remember staring in the screen long after the movie ended, and the more I thought about the movie, the more I find it to be absolutely unique and brilliant. You got me, Antonioni! You got me forever. The audience was silent. The first comment I heard was: “Did I miss something?” This will never change in the following years. Antonioni’s movies will always have that kind of impact on the audience as he was no ordinary storyteller and his subjects were simply different. Antonioni made great use of insinuation. He tantalized us with the possibility of what could have been. He believed that reality is unattainable as it is submerged by layers of images which are only versions/perceptions of reality. He said on one occasion: “Reality changes so rapidly that if one theme is not dealt with, another presents itself. Allowing one's attention to be attracted by each little thing has become a vice of the imagination. All one has to do is to keep one's eyes open: everything becomes full of meaning; everything cries out to be interpreted, reproduced. Thus, there is no one particular film that I would like to make; there is one for every single theme I perceive. And I am excited by these themes, day and night. However, opportunity and other practical considerations limit and direct the choice.”

I’m off to watch Al di la delle nuvole :)

6 comments:

Neo said...

Milena, I have no words! Who else you mentioned lately? Wenders?

Milena said...

Yes Neo. God forbid! I’ll become superstitious!

Thanks for the e-card. I'll write you later.

Lorri said...

I am stunned, Milena...we spoke about him, along with Bergman, last week.

OMG.

May he be at peace...

Milena said...

Yes. I can hardly believe it Lorri…

Paul C. said...

Between him and Bergman, quite a sad day for cinema. I fear for Godard and Rivette.

Antonioni was never one of my favorites, but there was no denying his genius (for example, nobody could end a movie like him). What really set him apart was how uniquely cinematic his films were, so much so that words seemed woefully inadequate to describe the effects his films had on you. A lot of people described the subject of his films as "ennui" or "alienation," but those don't quite capture his essence, and I'm not sure there's a word, aside from "Antonioni," that does.

I posted some video clips of some of his most famous final scenes over at my blog, Silly Hats Only. They're not the same out of context, but they capture his unique cinema better than any words could.

Paul C. said...

I just watched Red Desert for the first time last night (on video, unfortunately) and I was blown away. I love how little Antonioni explains about Giulietta's situation. She got in an accident- by all accounts a minor one- but for some reason she slipped into a profound existential funk. The film seems to be asking whether she was simply troubled all along and it took the accident to propel her off the deep end. I also loved the way he uses the device of her son's temporary paralysis. For a while, it's almost like this reflects her own condition, except in a physical way, but when he suddenly recovers, it's as though some unseen force is mocking Giulietta's own inability to overcome her demons.

Plus it's gorgeous, and there are some really arresting sequences (like the party on the boathouse followed by that magnificent scene in the fog). And while I know this sounds like heresy, I think Monica Vitti was even foxier with dark hair.