Classic Movie Reviews: L’Avventura (1960)

Title: L’Avventura
Release Date: 29 June 1960
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Production Company:
Cino Del Duca

Anna (Lea Massari) is a long-distance relationship with Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) and meets up with him for a yachting trip in the Mediterranean with her friend Claudia (Monica Vitti) accompanying her.  The yachting party stops at a small, rocky island in the Aeolian chain.  Anna and Sandro have an argument and later Anna disappears.  The rest of the film is Claudia and Sandro searching for Anna even as everyone else in the party seems indifferent.

Anna is not missing for even 12 hours before Sandro begins aggressively making sexual advances on Claudia.  Because this is a movie made in the 60s in Italy, Claudia doesn’t kick Sandro in the groin as he deserves but instead gradually begins to reciprocate the attraction. And so their journey through Italy following hints of where Anna may have gone is also a romantic fling.

The film has a strong technical aspect filmed on location in stunning natural and human-built landscapes as the backgrounds and unique cinematographic approaches to filming in them.  I was glad that Claudia ended up being the main character after first thinking it would be Anna because Vitti is a much better actor.  Or to be more charitable, Claudia appears to the be the only female character in the film who is written as a complete human and Vitti seizes the opportunity to make the most of it.  Several times in the film Claudia and other women are surrounded by man who ogle them.  It seems to me that a theme of this movie is that men treat women as objects who are disposable and easily replaced.

Critics who favor L’Avventura tend to play up its influence on the visual language of cinema. Others say that it is pretentious and dull.  I tend to lean in the latter direction, but I also sense that this is one of those movies that can only be fully appreciated on the big screen.

Rating: **1/2