Tuesday, 18 September 2012

L'Eclisse (Eclipse) [1962]

L’Eclisse was the concluding chapter in Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni’s immensely revered ‘Barrenness and Alienation’ trilogy (which also comprised of L’Avventura and La Notte). Though in continuation with his examination and meditation on malaise, ennui and emptiness among the urban rich, it was arguably the most abstract, enigmatic and intellectually challenging of the lot. The film begins with Vittoria (Monica Vitti), a beautiful young lady bored with her existence and without even a semblance of direction in her life (her stock reply to most questions is, “I don’t know”), breaking up with her doting husband (Francisco Rabal). While trying to reconnect with her mother who is obsessed with the share market, she makes the acquaintance of Piero (Alain Delon), a hotshot, womanizing and brash young share broker whose life comprises of perennially being on the move. Her static life made for a striking contrast with the humdrum and frenetic dynamism of the Rome Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, she also idles her time by having some mindless fun with her equally jobless friends. Vitti complemented her character’s aimlessness, inner vacuum and vulnerability quite well, with the kind of restraint that marked Antonioni’s filming style. The lack of any concrete plot, the ambiguity of most of the proceedings (especially the cryptic and disconcerting finale), and the desolate mood can be off-putting for most viewers; but then, Antonioni’s films have never been known for frenetic plot developments and easy answers in the first place. He is an acquired taste, and that fact is nowhere clearer than in this existentialist, deliberately paced, and cerebrally engaging, but emotionally distancing, arthouse classic.

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Psychological Drama/Existential Drama
Language: Italian
Country: Italy


Sam Juliano said...

Yep it's existential and distancing, but it's a masterwork by the ever-cerebral Antonioni. Marvelous capsule Shubhajit!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. The film's place in the pantheon of celebrated films is beyond doubt. By the way, I'd be really interested to know how you'd place it vis-a-vis the other 2 films in the trilogy.