the-eclipse-l%e2%80%99eclissemay-13thAn atmospheric and poetic observation of life in 1960’s Rome and the final part in Antonioni’s celebrated 1960s trilogy. Beautifully photographed by Gianni Di Venanzo, it has powerful performances from Monica Vitti and Alain Delon, as a translator and stockbroker who meet when Vittoria (Vitti) breaks up with her lover. The film follows the course of this new relationship in a slow-paced minimal style, but the feeling is evident. (Cert PG)
Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni 118 mins Italy 1962

This is a new date for the 7th January screening that was cancelled owing to snow. Free to members; non-members: £4.50. Abingdon College, 7.45 p.m. Non-members: please phone or email to book.

Programme Notes

Thursday, 7th January 2010


Italy 1962 118 minutes Cert. PG

The director Michelangelo Antonioni died in 2007 aged 94. His trilogy of films L’Avventura, La Notte and L’Eclisse, released between 1960 and 1962, won Grand Jury prizes at the Cannes Film Festivals and established him as a premier international film director alongside such directors as Visconti, Bergman and Polanski. Box office fame and Academy Awards followed in 1966 with his film Blow Up, set in London in the “swinging sixties”. Despite suffering a debilitating stroke in 1985, he continued in film making, demonstrating an extraordinary ability to communicate effectively with his film teams. He was given an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 1995, the year in which his last film Beyond the Clouds was released. His 1960-62 trilogy (a term, incidentally, that Antonioni never applied to those three films) became strongly identified with the actress Monica Vitti, who starred in all of the films.

The theme common to all three films is the fragility of human relationships and lack of communication in an alien contemporary urban and business environment. All were filmed in monochrome. L’Eclisse is set in Rome in the early 1960s. The plot is very simple. Vittoria, a translator, breaks up with her lover and starts a rather diffident courtship with Piero, her mother’s stockbroker. They are unable to commit themselves to each other. Piero, totally at home in the frenetic atmosphere of the Rome Borsa, is nonetheless spiritually empty and callous in his relationship with Vittoria. At the end of the film, neither of them turn up to the rendezvous which they have made together.

Against the minimalist plotting of the film is contrasted startlingly powerful visual symbolism, setting the characters against a bleak background of deserted streets, modernist architecture and construction sites. Much of the environment seems devoid of any human life. The characters are framed against windows, railings, fences and doorways as if trapped. The film dwells deliberately on silences and emptiness, particularly in the final scene, the location of the couple’s planned rendezvous, which they both fail to keep.

Piero – Alain Delon
Vittoria – Monica Vitti
Anita – Rossana Rory
Riccardo – Francisco Rabal
Ercoli – Louis Seigner
Vittoria’s mother – Lilla Brignone

Director – Michelangelo Antonioni
Screenplay – Tonino Guerra, Michelangelo Antonioni, Elio Bartolini, Ottiero Ottieri
Cinematography – Gianni di Venanzo
Original Music – Giovanni Fusco
Producers – Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim

“A film rich in mystery and artistry.” BBC Movies