Archive for April 3rd, 2013


(c) 2013 by James Clark

My initial motive in turning—from a series of films suffused with Bressonian concerns, about misplaced or over-the-top mojo—to Michelangelo Antonioni’s, La Notte, was to bring into play a more intimate, close-up range of the phenomenon. Bressonian elicitations tend to spotlight chronic malignancy with slight countervailing rallies (or no rallies, but rallies being implied by egregious debilitation [a specialty of Michael Haneke]). After several months of investigation in that vein, I thought it was time to make clear that another major filmmaker had staked out a significantly different approach to overdrive and underdrive. The films most characteristic of Antonioni magnify the substructures of intent in such a way as to reveal a perpetual oscillation between peaks and valleys. Thus La Notte begins with a bedridden, terminal cancer patient (locked into disfigurement), while in the room next to him there is a young girl who amorously embraces passers-by. The first patient has two visitors, who don’t comprehend how lucky they are to be in the swim, and not like The Paperboy’s Charlotte,

What I had not anticipated was how extreme a level of audacity Antonioni had brought to his film about “the night.” Over and above the key passage of a long, eventful party, proceeding from dusk till dawn, and over and above the depressed benightedness of the protagonists, Lidia and Giovanni, (and also the largely spoiled-rotten partygoers, having to endure a power failure), there is a far less obvious (and yet gripping) lack of discernment coming our way courtesy of Valentina (as it happens, far from a sanguine cupid). She attends the party (at her home, after all); but only partially—in being by herself or with Giovanni nearly the entire episode. Her quiet declamations (from out of fabulous wealth), as to tolerating only solitude and silence (a situation enacted by Lidia, but without follow-through to the consistency marshalled by Valentina), gradually bring us around to realizing that The Night we’re plunged into here is the entirety of world history to date. (more…)

Read Full Post »