Michelangelo Antonioni's "L'Eclisse" (1962)

..and why not?
User avatar
GoogaMooga
custodian of oldies
Posts: 26331
Joined: 28 Sep 2010, 05:23
Location: Denmark

Michelangelo Antonioni's "L'Eclisse" (1962)

Postby GoogaMooga » 31 Jan 2020, 05:30

I can see why he is rated so highly, hard to really find technical fault with his films. But in truth I have only ever managed to see a couple of them to the end, "Blow-Up" and "The Passenger". Tonight I had another go at "L'Eclisse", his 1962 masterpiece. I ought to like it, all that postwar existential malaise, the impossibility for people to really connect, the frosty isolation, but I never get past the stock exchange scene, which granted is very impressive, but by which time I am bored out of my skull or have just awakened from a quick doze. Stock exchange scene is conk out time. Perhaps I should just admit to myself that I too suffer the Great Antoni-ennui, and leave it at that. A bit like Tarkovsky, where everything after "Ivan's Childhood" fills me with excruciating boredom. I am such a philistine. Maybe even a pseudo. Or am I? Which is more pseudo, paying good money to endure "L'Eclisse", or looking for art in the trashier end of the spectrum? I honestly can't say, but I do know that movies should not be a chore, there shouldn't be any duty viewing outside of the classroom. If I let other people dictate my taste it is quite different from being swayed or influenced. It is dishonest, it is not really me, but rather, it is me trying to be a phony. I don't owe anyone anything with regard to arts and entertainment. Least of all Michelangelo Antonioni, master of stasis. I don't despise Antonioni so much as not really care. His films are explorations of nothingness, the idle class doing nothing, talking about nothing. He can make the shallow seem profound because he is such a visual master. I admire his visuals very much, his storytelling less so.

Image
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck

User avatar
Quaco
F R double E
Posts: 47240
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 19:41

Re: Michelangelo Antonioni's "L'Eclisse" (1962)

Postby Quaco » 31 Jan 2020, 07:31

My father had an interesting theory that when he found people boring, he would try to figure out just what it is that made them boring, and that would invariably make them more interesting. As you say, Antonioni's visuals are great, but maybe it's hard to appreciate a film just for its visuals, especially when -- unlike Baraka, Koyannisquattsi, etc. -- it seems to be trying to make some great sociological point. You may find it interesting to read some of Antonioni's interviews/writings. I found them very interesting. As with some music, if you aren't getting it, it's sometimes better to read about it instead.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

User avatar
GoogaMooga
custodian of oldies
Posts: 26331
Joined: 28 Sep 2010, 05:23
Location: Denmark

Re: Michelangelo Antonioni's "L'Eclisse" (1962)

Postby GoogaMooga » 31 Jan 2020, 09:08

Quaco wrote:My father had an interesting theory that when he found people boring, he would try to figure out just what it is that made them boring, and that would invariably make them more interesting. As you say, Antonioni's visuals are great, but maybe it's hard to appreciate a film just for its visuals, especially when -- unlike Baraka, Koyannisquattsi, etc. -- it seems to be trying to make some great sociological point. You may find it interesting to read some of Antonioni's interviews/writings. I found them very interesting. As with some music, if you aren't getting it, it's sometimes better to read about it instead.


You raise an interesting point with your father's theory. I applied it to my ESL classes in Japan. I found the job stultifying, but could talk about a golfing weekend for a one hour stretch simply by winging it and forcing myself to get into it. I also used it to help me with Latin class in high school. The advantage there was that the teacher was a great guy - a kind, elderly man (Catholic Brother). Latin has a reputation for being a boring subject, dead language and all that. The difference was that in both cases, it was an obligation. With arts and entertainment, I don't see why I should force myself to get into Antonioni simply because he is the accepted canon. For fear of being a philistine? I've had three or four shots at L'Eclisse, love the visuals and the actors, but the point it makes about the emptiness of modern life and the vacuousness of the idle class could be gotten across in a few scenes, in a short film, rather than in a two hours plus feature. I can take some slow films - Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer, even Godard's "Weekend", so it's not that I don't have the patience or lack concentration. Perhaps I just find their films more meaningful, those directors' approaches more interesting.
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck

User avatar
Quaco
F R double E
Posts: 47240
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 19:41

Re: Michelangelo Antonioni's "L'Eclisse" (1962)

Postby Quaco » 31 Jan 2020, 10:31

I personally like the late '60s/early '70s color ones the best: Blow-Up, Zabriskie Point, and The Passenger. Hemmings, Schneider, Nicholson, Halprin, they're not so perfectly blank as Vitti was maybe. There's a little energy in them.

It's been a while since I've seen the earlier ones. I do remember I nodded off during L'Avventura :)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

User avatar
Matt Wilson
Psychedelic Cowpunk
Posts: 30187
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 20:18
Location: Edge of a continent

Re: Michelangelo Antonioni's "L'Eclisse" (1962)

Postby Matt Wilson » 31 Jan 2020, 15:45

Monica Vitti, blank? For shame! I love me a bit of Antonioni - all the ones Jim mentioned, as well as the L'Avventura/La Notte/L'Eclisse trilogy (guess I should add Red Desert). His themes tend to be the same from film to film, but the visual splendor is almost unmatched by any other director at the time. You really need to see these on blu. He's a director like Kubrick or Mallick, you need to see the pictures in the best quality you can to appreciate them. If you're used to the American style of film making which is plot-driven, where every scene has to add to the story, etc., then you're probably going to be bored with a guy like Antonioni, whose glacial pace can be off putting. L'Avventura is the one which made me a fan back in the '80s, a movie I likened to La Dolce Vita if I remember. Criterions blus of the titles I listed above are phenomenal.

But never feel that if you can't get into something in the canon that it's your fault. Go with your taste and to hell with conventional wisdom.