Sunday, February 24, 2008

L'eclisse (Last of the Alienation Trilogy)

I finally finished watching yesterday Antonioni's trilogy on Alienation, which I had begun a few months ago with La Notte, by watching the culmination L'eclisse. I liked this last movie quite a lot, though a little less than the powerful La Notte, but more than the first part of the trilogy: L'avventura.
The movie tells the story of fleetingness and disaffection, and is the best depiction of alienation amongst the three movies. There are few words in each of the movies, but L'eclisse takes the lack of dialog to the extreme. The characters in this movie are even more shallow and plagued with a greater indecision. The little dialog is drowned out in background noise of civilization - sound of an electric razor or the din at the stock market or ringing of telephones - the lack of communication between two people is acute and complete.
The whole story of alienation is brought to a wonderful culmination in the last scene, where the discontent of modern man is shown through shots of incomplete buildings, flowing water, growling buses, eroded faces, an unsmiling child and a sharp, blinding streetlight. All of it engulfed by a broken promise and the absence of a rendezvous.

The film tells the story of Vittoria, who breaks off with her fiance in the first scene and then meets Piero, a stockbroker and falls in love with him (if their relationship can be defined by the word love). The relationship remains on the periphery, due to Piero's materialism and Vittoria's indefinite aspirations. They endeavor to make their relation a reality with a promise to meet everyday, but the last shot ends with a shot of their proposed meeting place, which stands empty and desolate, indicating the rupture of the promise and an end of the relationship.

The actors have done a brilliant work with the characters, filling up for the lack of dialog. It is not that they act too well, or use their eyes to convey the unspoken. They just exist in a drawl, always full of emotion that stays masked a little thinly. Just perfect for Antonioni's theme perhaps. I like Monica Vitti in general - specially for her role in L'avventura, but here she supersedes it with a complete foreignness. Alain Delon as Piero is coldly, cruelly very handsome, and reminded me of Daniel Day Lewis in Unbearable Lightness of being.

I had liked watching L'avventura too, though I thought that it ended very abruptly, especially with Claudia (Vitti again) accepting the shallow excuses offered by Sandro and choosing to stay with him despite reasons that had probably led her best friend Anna to escape. The landscape in the movie was stunning, and there, the island and the sea became the symbol of alienation.

A good essay on both movies can be found here and here.

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