La Notte

17/01/2019 19:45.
Cert 12

Antonioni’s trilogy L’Avventura, La Notte and L’Eclisse are masterpieces of Italian cinema. La Notte charts 24 hours in the life of a socialite couple, whose stale marriage is in its final stages. Author Giovanni Pontano (Marcello Mastroianni) and his bored wife Lidia (Jeanne Moreau) are in an existential crisis. The first part of the film sets the scene, with architecture and interiors illustrating the wealth and lifestyles of the protagonists and their disaffection with life. A wealthy industrialist throws a party in Giovanni’s honour, where the guests also display dissatisfaction with their lot, and whose sexual appetites are a sign of a vacuum in their feelings. Lidia escapes from the party to return to the poor industrialised area of her childhood, to try and recapture the optimism of those early years.

” […] revolutionary in form, eloquent in content and can affect you deeply. Is he the Henry James of film-making?” (Derek Malcolm,

Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni  122mins  Italy 1961

Programme Notes

This much admired and long recognised world cinema classic is one of co-writer/director Michaelangelo Antonio’s acclaimed and brilliantly stylish ’60s studies in alienation. As the centrepiece of a loose trilogy with L’Avventura (1960) and L’Eclisse (1962), La Notte is a startling, riveting film about bored, unappealing  people and the sterility of their steadily deteriorating relationships, reflected in the chilly architecture of Milan’s buildings.

Lidia (Jeanne Moreau) and her husband Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni) are a doubly unfaithful married couple trying to come to terms with a lifestyle that is choking them. At a posh gathering in Milan held to honour Giovanni, who has just published a new novel, Lidia suddenly storms out. Distressed at the news that her friend Tommaso has a terminal illness, she begins roaming the districts of the city, questioning her marriage to Giovanni and returning to the humble streets of her childhood. Meanwhile, Giovanni, seemingly oblivious to his crumbling relationship with Lidia, attempts to reciprocate the seductive advances of a beautiful but mentally unstable ingénue, Valentina (Monica Vitti).

Among several awards gained in 1961 and 1962, La Notte won the Golden Bear highest prize at the 1961 Berlin International Film Festival for Best Film (the first time for an Italian film) and the 1961 Accademia del Cinema Italiano David de Donatello award for Best Director.Acknowledgements: Derek Winnert, ; Anon,

“In reviewing the critical reception of La Notte […], it strikes me that many observers seem to almost completely miss the fact that the film is, in part, a feminist critique of capitalist society, which centres around women, consumption, and the failure of our ecosystem – and not just the director’s trademark alienation and ennui” Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, Cinémath et Annotations en Film

“As in L’Avventura, it’s not the situation so much as the intimations of personal feelings, doubts and moods that are the substance of the film” Bosley Crowther, New York Times.

Marcello Mastroianni – Giovanni Pontano
Jeanne Moreau – Lidia Pontano
Monica Vitti – Valentina Gheradini
Bernhard Wicki – Tommaso Garani
Rosy Mazzacurati – Rosy

Director – Michelangelo Antonioni
Producer – Emanuele Cassuto
Screenplay – M. Antonioni, Ennio Flaiano, Tonino Guerra
Cinematography – Gianni Di Venanzo
Music Department – Giorgio Gaslini et al


  • Enigmatic and wonderful!
  • Terrific stylish shots of the architecture. Too much money – reminded me of The Great Gatsby. Fitting      [?] they were all so bloody miserable
  • Whilst it was odd to get into at first, once you started treating the film as an artistic slice of life, then it      became an excellent experience, worthy of its praise as a landmark of Italian cinema
  • Wonderful cinematography and atmosphere but rather too long
  • A brilliant film but I was bored by the story
  • He was so buttoned up, she was so down in the mouth, when would it ever end? …. but I couldn’t walk away
  • Antonioni – master director! But fifty years on, it did seem awfully slow …. and was 1960s Italy really so repressed – or was it just Antonioni?
  • Impressive evidence of Italy’s remarkable economic recovery post WWII but the best thing you could say about the film is that it was pacier than Last Year in Marienbad !
  • Life is made of angles
  • Too intellectual for me
  • Something about paint and drying ….


A:7, B:6, C:5, D:3, E:1 to give 67% from 85% of those present.