L'Avventura

I had a bit of an obsession with one of the movies I watched for this project, Blow Out. My friend Zach (who looks like a more attractive version of Steve Buschemi) brought me Blow Up to watch as well, because he knew I would like it. I was really fascinated with how these movies were so...hollow. The plot isn't as important as how soulless the characters are. L'Avventura is another film like this, and I am equally as in love with it. It was directed by Michelangelo Antonioni in 1960. Ebert described the film as ending with "soul-sickness", which is a beautiful way to describe what happens in this film. It's not a movie about plot. It's a movie about characters who are soul-sick, who are hollow.



The film is about two lovers, Anna and Sandro. No. It's about Anna and Claudia, two best friends. Or something. They all go on a yacht trip. They go have adventures on a rocky island. Anna gets lost. They try to find her, but it isn't really important. Claudia and Sandro start to develop feelings for each other, and soon become involved. Anna is sort of forgotten.

It has the same useless plot as Blow Up. It doesn't matter if they find Anna or not, just like the murder wasn't really that important. L'Avventura is about people who are just seeking feeling, whatever or however. Ebert tries to sum up the plot, writing, "It is about the sense in which all of the characters are on the brink of disappearance; their lives are so unreal and their relationships so tenuous they can barely be said to exist. They are like bookmarks in life: holding places, but not involved in the story" (The Great Movies, 260). It sounds boring, but there is something so interesting about this to me.

Maybe some of it has to do with the fact that I don't feel like these people. If my partner, no matter how lukewarm our relationship, went missing, I wouldn't be Sandro or Claudia. I'd have to look for them, I'd be upset for them. If even an acquaintance of mine went missing I would feel this way. I can't relate to these characters, so it is interesting to watch them. You can theorize and philosophize and think about how modern people are hollow in different ways. You can see and experience something you never could understand. It is otherworldly.

Ebert writes about this movie almost poetically. He says of the director, "His characters were parasites whose money allowed them to clear away the distractions of work, responsibility, goals and purposes, and exposed the utter emptiness within. It is possible to be rich and happy, of course, but for that you need a mind, and interests. It is impossible to be happy simply because one is ceaselessly entertained. "L'Avventura'' becomes a place in our imagination--a melancholy moral desert" (The Great Movies, 263). I love what he says about how you can be wealthy and whole, but you need to have interests for that. A hobby. A passion. Anything. None of these characters have that. They knew money was a good thing to have. They got it. Now what? It's like a cinematic (and more beautiful) version of those documentaries you see on people who win the lottery. Money is good, so if you get it, everything will work out, right? Not if you aren't fulfilled to begin with.

This movie is streaming on Netflix, and I hope you check it out. It's a little long, 2.5 hours, but it's worth it. It's really worth it if you share my obsession with soulless characters. It's not a feel-good movie or anything, but it is deeply important and beautiful. Let me know if you check this out.

Have any of you seen L'Avventura? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Links:
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on L'Avventura 

Lawrence of Arabia

L'atalante