Friday, April 8, 2011

386. L'Eclisse/The Eclipse (1962)

Running Time: 125 minutes
Directed By: Michelangelo Antonioni
Written By: Michelangelo Antonioni, Elio Bartolini, Tonino Guerra, Ottiero Ottieri
Main Cast: Monica Vitti, Alain Delon, Francisco Rabal, Louis Seigner, Lilla Brignone


This is the final film in what is considered a loosely based trilogy of movies (including "L'Avventura" and "La Notte") by Michelangelo Antonioni. Having watched the entire trilogy, I'd have to definitively say that "L'Eclisse" was, by far, the worst one of the group.

The film is basically plot-less, but I'll do my best to recount the story that this film tried to tell. Vittoria (Vitti) and Riccardo (Rabal) begin the film and it is revealed that they've been up all night talking about the status of their relationship. Ultimately, when the morning comes, Vittoria makes it clear that she no longer wants to have a relationship with Riccardo and despite his protests, they break it off. Vittoria goes home and later that day visits her mother at the stock market to tell her the news. Her mother is addicted to the buying and selling on the stock exchange and in the heat of the day's trading, her mother could care less. While at the stock market she meets up with Piero (Delon), a stockbroker, whom she introduces herself to and then leaves. Later, as Piero and Vittoria continue to meet, Piero grows fonder of her and despite her hesitations and misgivings, she falls in love with him too.

I'm going to approach "L'Eclisse" a little differently in giving my opinions about it. When I received "L'Eclisse" in the mail from Netflix, almost by reflex, I read the slip cover that accompanies all DVD's that you get from Netflix...Here's what it said:

Michelangelo Antonioni's trilogy ends with this haunting, starkly modern meditation on love. Tracing the trajectory of one relationship, "L'Eclisse" (aka The Eclipse) follows the exploits of a woman (Monica Vitti) who craves deep and abiding affection. Convinced that the man she's with (Francisco Rabal) can't give her what she needs, she leaves him, only to begin an affair with another (Alain Delon). But their trysts threaten to engulf them all.

By reading that, I actually get really excited for this film. I've seen an Alain Delon film once before in "Le Samourai" and thought he was great, so I was excited to see him again. Monica Vitti has proved that she's not a terrible actress, so we're two for three in our leads and that's enough to make for some good acting. I'm thinking the film obviously doesn't sound like there's a whole lot going on, so my initial thoughts lead me to believe that there will be some real opportunity for some shining dialogue scenes, some opportunity for some really melancholic tones, as the film is about love and failed relationships. It's an Italian film, buy a supposed master, so some great camera work/beautiful images are surely a given. So, to say that least, I'm pretty stoked about this one...Boy was I mislead.

Now maybe I shouldn't be taking the word of Netflix slip covers to base my initial thoughts for a film, but I read them so that I can kind of get a picture for what the film is about, so I don't go in blind. I was wrong on pretty much every front. There were dialogue scenes, but I wouldn't call them great and a lot of the dialogue was really pretentious. There were two, what I would consider wasted scenes, taking place in the stock market, that totally seemed to stray away from the real purposes of the film, which to me the ultimate purpose of the film was Vittoria and her attempt to find that great affection that she'd been searching for, but couldn't seem to grasp. The images weren't necessarily beautiful and the acting was average at best.

Let me say that I was really excited for this whole trilogy of films. I really thought that I was going to get blown away on three separate occasions and when I DID find out that we were dealing with a trilogy of films, I thought, "Cool, this could be three films that could have all the potential in the world and for an extra kicker, they're loosely based around the same ideas/themes." I went to the IMDB message boards after I watched the film and tried to make a little sense of the ending. I'm not sure I figured out what Antonioni is trying to say, but I was literally jealous hearing everyone gush about how great these three films are. I wanted, for just a couple of hours, to borrow the eyes of the people who were experiencing greatness from Antonioni's work and re-watch the films so that I could get in on some of this greatness. But, in reality that's not possible and I'm left to suffer with the memories of watching "L'Eclisse", which was not only the worst Antonioni film thus far, but probably one of the worst films from the book thus far. I'll be honest guys, I really tuned myself out of this film at about the ninety minute mark, because by then it had been too much to handle. Every film deserves my full attention, but I could only muster enough attention to give this film what it deserved.

RATING: 2/10 Maybe someday, when I'm older, I'll rewatch this trilogy and find some of that greatness that I missed. As far as best film of the trilogy, "La Notte" gets that distinction, hands down. Here's hoping that the last three Antonioni films are A LOT better. Next up is "Red Desert".


April 8, 2011 11:16am

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