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Michelangelo Antonioni

Michelangelo Antonioni

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L'Avventura: The Criterion Collection... Director Michelangelo Antonioni displays true artistic skill with this... more info $26.99was $39.95 Buy Now

The Passenger DVD A weary journalist assumes the identify of a dead man -- and all of the intrigue... more info $19.99was $19.99 Buy Now

Red Desert: The Criterion Collection... Michelangelo Antonioni's 1960s panoramas of contemporary alienation were... more info $26.99was $39.95 Buy Now

Il Grido DVD A compelling romance bound in tragedy, Il Grido is a fascinating missing link in... more info $29.95was $29.95 Buy Now

Zabriskie Point DVD An Italian master comes to America. With "Zabriskie Point" (1970), legendary... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

Identification Of A Woman: The Criterion... Michelangelo Antonioni's Identification of a Woman is a body- and soul-baring... more info $13.99was $19.95 Buy Now

Also Known As: Died: July 30, 2007
Born: September 29, 1912 Cause of Death: complications due to a stroke
Birth Place: Ferrara, IT Profession: director, screenwriter, journalist, assistant director, puppet maker, magazine editor, book translator, painter, producer, critic, banker

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Michelangelo Antonioni began writing about film as a student at Bologna University, mercilessly criticizing the fatuous Italian comedies of the 1930s. In 1940, he studied direction at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome and two years later co-wrote the scenario for "Un piloto ritorna" with director Roberto Rossellini before working as an assistant director on films directed by Enrico Fulchignoni and Marcel Carne. His first directorial effort was a documentary, "Gente del Po", begun in 1943 and completed in 1947. For two other documentaries in the late 40s he solicited music from Giovanni Fusco, initiating and cementing a collaboration with the man whose scores would enhance his own pessimism in eight films.Antonioni's minimalist yet poignant style, which critics described as "structured absence," and his disdain for vulgar commercialism, made him an important influence on post-neorealist Italian cinema. His first feature, "Story of a Love Affair" (1950), used complex camerawork to tell the simple tale of a wealthy woman whose husband dies, an approach that would typify his subsequent work. "The Vanquished" (1952) focused on the youth of post-war Europe in three separate stories set and...

Michelangelo Antonioni began writing about film as a student at Bologna University, mercilessly criticizing the fatuous Italian comedies of the 1930s. In 1940, he studied direction at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome and two years later co-wrote the scenario for "Un piloto ritorna" with director Roberto Rossellini before working as an assistant director on films directed by Enrico Fulchignoni and Marcel Carne. His first directorial effort was a documentary, "Gente del Po", begun in 1943 and completed in 1947. For two other documentaries in the late 40s he solicited music from Giovanni Fusco, initiating and cementing a collaboration with the man whose scores would enhance his own pessimism in eight films.

Antonioni's minimalist yet poignant style, which critics described as "structured absence," and his disdain for vulgar commercialism, made him an important influence on post-neorealist Italian cinema. His first feature, "Story of a Love Affair" (1950), used complex camerawork to tell the simple tale of a wealthy woman whose husband dies, an approach that would typify his subsequent work. "The Vanquished" (1952) focused on the youth of post-war Europe in three separate stories set and shot in Rome, Paris and London. The Italian section displeased the Italians by depicting their youngsters as neo-Fascists, and censors in France and England banned their respective portions of the film. Antonioni's episode of the anthology film "Love in the City" (1953) dealt with suicide, a preoccupation that also provided the uneasy resolution to "The Girl Friends" (1955), a study of several women and their disappointing relationships with men.

After the release of "The Outcry" (1957), a study of the inept men of the Po Valley, Antonioni's developing assurance with the medium led him to look beyond the proletarian subjects favored by neorealism. "L'Avventura" (1959) began a phase of non-narrative, psychological cinema, examining the barren eroticism of a bourgeoisie (Antonioni was himself from the middle class) which had abandoned its traditional social and cultural values. The film attracted a political critique that equated Antonioni's work with the writings of Andre Gide. Critics, citing the united thematic concerns of "L'Avventura", "La Notte" (1961) and "L'Eclisse" (1962), have grouped them as a trilogy in which mankind reaches unsuccessfully for love as the last refuge in the modern world. Antonioni made one more film directly charting the same universe, although "The Red Desert" (1964), in which Antonioni working for the first time in color had an entire landscape painted red to underline his theme of despair, focused so intensely on the character of Giuliana as to lose the trilogy's sense of alternative possibilities. Heroine Monica Vitti's palpable frustration signaled the end of her four-film collaboration with Antonioni, which had made her an international star.

"Blow-Up" (1966) marked Antonioni's departure from Italy to "swinging London," where he dramatized the paradoxes of its nervous hip consciousness. The film's finale--a ball-less tennis match--became a reference point of 60s cinema. The success of "Blow-Up" (Antonioni won the National Society of Film Critics' Best Director award and was nominated for Oscars for Best Director and Best Screenplay) brought the director to California for "Zabriskie Point" (1970), an elegiac view of the intersection of materialism and hippiedom. "The Passenger" (1975) featured Jack Nicholson as an American reporter who adopts the identity of a deceased fellow guest in a North African hotel. The director's virtuoso use of Gaudi's architecture echoed the unresolved angles of the protagonist's world. Neither "Mystery of Oberwald" (1980) nor "Identification of a Woman" (1982) found distribution in the USA.

In 1985, Antonioni suffered a heart attack that left him partially paralyzed and over the next decade managed to produce only the eleven-minute documentary short, "Volcanoes and Carnival" (1992). However, with the encouragement of his wife Enrica and the financial backing provided by French producer Stephane Tchalgadjieff, Antonioni returned triumphantly with "Beyond the Clouds" (1995). German director Wim Wenders, who had become involved because Antonioni's precarious health made him uninsurable, shot the prologue, epilogue and linking shots between the four episodes comprising the movie and otherwise stayed out of the way, totally fascinated by Antonioni at work.

Based on stories in Antonioni's book "That Bowling Alley on the Tiber: Tales of a Director" (1985), "Beyond the Clouds" proved a brilliantly unified movie on par with the director's best work, evoking such familiar themes as alienation in the modern world while also exploring a religiosity not previously found in his films. Employing his signature fluency of camera movement and shots sustained much longer than the norm in the creation of an impeccable visual composition, "Beyond the Clouds" demonstrated that the old master had lost none of his technical expertise and was in fact still growing artistically at the age of 83. His wife chronicled the experience and edited her nearly 85 hours of film into a 52-minute documentary titled "For Me, to Make a Film Is to Live" (1995). The director was presented with an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement at the 1995 ceremony.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Eros (2004) Director ("The Dangerous Thread Of Things")
2.
  Beyond the Clouds (1995) Director
4.
5.
6.
  Passenger, The (1975) Director
8.
  Zabriskie Point (1970) Director
9.
  Blow-Up (1966) Director
10.
  Tre Volti, I (1965) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
3.
 Chambre 666 (1984) Himself
4.
 67th Annual Academy Awards, The (1995) Honoree (Honorary Oscar)
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Milestones close milestones

:
While at university began first documentary (shot in an insane asylum); later abandoned
1935:
Wrote for newspaper, <i>Il Corriere Padano</i> in Ferrara
1935:
Worked in bank
1939:
Moved to Rome
1940:
Began writing for magazine <i>Cinema</i>, fired for political reasons after only a few months; magazine's director was Mussolini's son Vittorio
1942:
First film as co-screenwriter, "Un piloto ritorna"; director and co-screenwriter was Roberto Rossellini
1942:
Worked as assistant director on Enrico Fulchignoni's "I due Foscari" and in France on Marcel Carne's "Les visiteurs du soir"
:
Served in Italian army; sneaked out of camp to work with Fulchignoni and contrived trip to Paris to work with Marcel returning to Italy when military leave expired
1943:
Worked as a translator of French literature
:
Directed and wrote 11 short films; debut, "Gente del Po" (shot in 1943, completed 1947)
1950:
Feature film directing debut (also co-screenwriter; from story), "Cronaca di un Amore/Story of a Love Affair"
1955:
Sole producing credit, Nicolo Ferrari's "Uomini in piu"
1955:
"Le amici/The Girlfriends" widely agreed to be director's first truly outstanding achievement
1957:
Directed Monica Vitti on stage in "I Am a Camera"
1958:
Worked as uncredited co-director on "La tempesta" (Alberto Lattuada) and "Nel segno di Roma" (Guido Brignone)
1960:
Achieved new level of international recognition and success with his "L'Avventura"
1964:
Used color film for first time in "Il deserto russo/The Red Desert"
1966:
First English-language film, "Blow-Up", made in Great Britain; received Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay
1970:
Directed only US film, "Zabriskie Point"
1975:
"The Passenger", starring Jack Nicholson, brought renewed critical recognition and some degree of commercial success
1982:
Last film for a decade, "Identificazione di una donna/Identification of a Woman"
1985:
Suffered heart attack that left him partially paralyzed
1992:
Completed the documentary short, "Noto - Mandorli - Vulcano - Stromboli - Carnevale/Volcanoes and Carnival"
1995:
Returned triumphantly to form directing "Beyond the Clouds"; Wim Wenders directed linking sequences (including a prologue and epilogue)
1995:
His wife directed a documentary "For Me, to Make a Film Is to Live" chronicling the making of "Beyond the Clouds"
1995:
Presented with honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Bologna: - 1935
University of Bologna: - 1935
Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia: - 1940

Notes

"I shot so much film that when I began editing, I didn't know where to start. The real value of my film was the possibility I had for my camera to be in the closest proximity possible to Michelangelo, who wouldn't have allowed anyone else's camera to be so intimate while he was working." --Enrica Antonioni on making "For Me, to Make a Film Is to Live", her documentary of filmmaker husband Michelangelo Antonioni.

When asked what he wants to do next [after "Beyond the Clouds"], Antonioni replied, "It's all said by the director character in my film: 'When I have finished a film, I start thinking about the next one, and for me, being silent is not just the only thing, it is the best thing--to be silent in the darkness and then the lights come up.'"

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Letizia Balboni. Married 1942; divorced.
wife:
Enrica Fico. Director. Met in 1972; married 1986; born c. 1953.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Ismaele Antonioni. Landowner.
mother:
Elisabetta Antonioni.

Bibliography close complete biography

"That Bowling Alley on the Tiber: Tales of a Director" Oxford University Press
"Antonioni: The Poet of Images" Oxford University Press
"My Time with Antonioni" Faber and Faber

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