Sunday, November 05, 2006

Next Top Ten or So

Okay, this is starting to get a bit drawn out. I will try to get these complete, so we can all move on to more interesting things.

L’Avventura, 1960, Written by Michelangelo Antonioni, Elio Bartolini and Tonino Guerra; Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni.

In my mind, L'Avventura is the kind of film that everyone dreams of making when they're young and want to go to film school (of course, Pulp Fiction is probably a little more popular choice). What I mean, is that when you're young and dreaming of making the best movie ever made, you imagine a film in which every single thing is meaningful--the angles, compositions, mise-en-scene, etc. But you com to realize, that most films just aren't made that carefully. But L'Avventura was made that carefully. Every camera move, every frameline, every position or movement of an actor, every placement of a background element, everything visual has meaning, has a reason to be the way it is. Now, I'm not going to pretend I know what the meaning of every choice in L'Avventura is, but the meaning is nevertheless there. Even more impressively, the meaning is not cheap symbolism (I read recently on David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson's blog that Scorsese and Michael Balhaus tried to put crosses in any form into every shot where a character is in danger into in The Departed--that's cheap symbolism to me). In fact, the meaning of the shots isn't really symbolic at all, as is excellently explained by Gene Youngblood on the Criterion Collection DVD.

In short, the film is about the mysterious disappearance of Anna, and the resulting love affair between her boyfriend Sandro and her best friend Claudia. These are all characters who seem to have lost meaning in their lives, and the varying abilities of the characters to realize this and do something about it. Of all the films on my list, this one suffers the most from an attempt to describe it, given the amazing quality of the visuals, so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead.

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