Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni | 122 minutes | drama | Actors: Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti, Bernhard Wicki, Rosy Mazzacurati, Maria Pia Luzi, Guido A. Marsan, Vittorio Bertolini, Vincenzo Corbella, Ugo Fortunati, Gitt Magrini, Giorgio Negro, Roberta Speroni, Odile Jean, Valentino Bompiani, Roberto Danesi, Umberto Eco, Giansiro Ferrata, Giorgio Gaslini, Alceo Guatelli, Ottiero Ottieri, Salvatore Quasimodo, Ettore Univelli, Eraldo Volonte
Michelangelo Antonioni’s films are not easy. It is often necessary to look beyond what the characters say or do not say. The camerawork and especially the image compositions also often speak louder than the main characters themselves. The way the characters are part of their environment, how much of them appears in the picture, the type of architecture they are in, or the way they enter or leave a space can reveal the true nature of relationships where the involved characters themselves seem too caught up in their social isolation or moral codes. “La notte” is no exception. It is a film that visually impresses from the first second and continues to make an impression, but with detached, difficult to fathom characters who, especially afterwards, after a final scene in which communication between man and woman finally takes place, acquire the necessary dramatic charge.
“La notte” is the second film – after “L” avventura “and before” L’éclisse “- in an unofficial trilogy by Antonioni, which focuses on the so-called” ennui “of the wealthy. Literally translated “boredom”, but it is bigger and more complex than this characterization. It is a kind of general state or attitude to life of the bourgeoisie, which has difficulty in finding its place in society and forging meaningful relationships. It is also a trio of films that reveal the inability to communicate between characters, mostly lovers. In “La notte”, Giovanni and his wife Lidia fail to agree to justify the status of their relationship, even though it is clear from the start that it has bled to death. When they visit a joint, critically ill friend in the hospital, they don’t come across as a couple. They are often far apart, hardly make eye contact, and do not even leave simultaneously.
Temptations are also immediately introduced into their lives, so that it is immediately clear which subject will be central in the film. A patient from the hospital – one who is mentally unwell – stands in her doorway when Giovanni comes over, manages to get him to enter her room, and literally throws herself at his feet. He eventually resists the temptation, even confessing it to his wife, but for Giovanni it turns out to be the first impetus for potential infidelity, which he later flirts with again when he meets the graceful Monica Vitti. So Giovanni tells his wife, but Lidia seems completely unmoved by this confession, and for the rest of the film behaves like an unhappy little human being, trapped in her marriage and longing for the past and the kind of open-mindedness and spontaneity where passion is made of. When she leaves a party in honor of the publication of her husband’s book, and goes for a walk alone, it seems that some fire has been stirred up in her very carefully. But perhaps her smile is only the result of the melancholy feeling that takes hold of her when she finally sees the environment from her past again, and remembers with melancholy that time that will never return. Including the time with her husband, when everything seemed possible and he still wrote her romantic letters.
The areas where Lidia ends up during her wanderings are characteristic of the film’s theme. She walks through lawns and past dilapidated buildings – which Antonioni manages to portray very picturesquely – and this is the place (in her history) where she was happy (there). This is in contrast to the present time, depicted with the help of large skyscrapers – in the windows of which the rural, traditional part of Milan is reflected – and other modern buildings, such as the hospital from the first scenes of the film, with large windows and talking elevators, where the people, like the buildings, are cold and empty. It is a shame that there is so much talk and analysis by the characters and not more is left purely to the behaviors and environments. As a viewer you may feel far removed from the characters, but this is also partly the intention. They feel that way too, and the viewer has to do enough work to understand the problem, using the visual metaphors and non-verbal communication. However interesting and telling the last scenes it might have been better to let the viewer draw the conclusions contained herein. The earlier ‘L’avventura’ dared to fully pursue this line of mis- or non-communication, with a beautiful, disturbing and intriguing film as a result, which never completely puts the viewer with both feet on the ground and makes them think. votes. “La notte” ends up making ends meet a bit too easily to create a film that is just as satisfying dramatically as it is visually and thematically. Well worth it, but not a masterpiece.