Michelangelo Antonioni


Director
Michelangelo Antonioni

About

Birth Place
Ferrara, IT
Born
September 29, 1912
Died
July 30, 2007
Cause of Death
Complications Due To A Stroke

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...

Family & Companions

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

Bibliography

"My Time with Antonioni"
Wim Wenders, Faber and Faber (2000)
"Antonioni: The Poet of Images"
William Arrowsmith, Oxford University Press (1995)
"That Bowling Alley on the Tiber: Tales of a Director"
Michelangelo Antonioni and William Arrowsmith", Oxford University Press (1985)

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.'"

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 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.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Eros (2004)
Director ("The Dangerous Thread Of Things")
Beyond the Clouds (1995)
Director
Noto - Mandorli - Vulcano - Stromboli - Carnevale (1992)
Director
Identification of a Woman (1982)
Director
The Mystery of Oberwald (1981)
Director
Professione: reporter (1975)
Director
The Passenger (1975)
Director
Zabriskie Point (1970)
Director
Blow-Up (1966)
Director
Red Desert (1965)
Director
I Tre Volti (1965)
Director
Camille Without Camellias (1965)
Director
La notte (1962)
Director
Il grido (1962)
Director
Eclipse (1962)
Director
Le amiche (1962)
Director
L'avventura (1961)
Director
The Girlfriends (1955)
Director
The Vanquished (1953)
Director
Love in the City (1953)
Director
La Villa dei mostri (1950)
Director
Sette canne e un vestito (1950)
Director
La Funivia del Faloria (1950)
Director
Story of a Love Affair (1950)
Director
Roma-Montevideo (1948)
Director
Oltre l'oblio (1948)
Director
Gente del Po (1947)
Director

Assistant Direction (Feature Film)

Les visiteurs du soir (1942)
Assistant Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Coração Vagabundo (2008)
For Me, to Make a Film Is to Live (1995)
Himself
Room 666 (1984)
Himself

Writer (Feature Film)

Eros (2004)
Screenplay ("The Dangerous Thread Of Things")
Eros (2004)
Source Material (From Short Story Collection: Dead Bowling Alley On The Tiber/"The Dangerous Thread Of Things")
Beyond the Clouds (1995)
Screenwriter
Beyond the Clouds (1995)
From Short Story Collection ("Bowling On The Tiber")
Beyond the Clouds (1995)
Story By
Identification of a Woman (1982)
From Story
Identification of a Woman (1982)
Screenplay
The Mystery of Oberwald (1981)
Screenplay
The Passenger (1975)
Screenwriter
Zabriskie Point (1970)
Screenwriter
Zabriskie Point (1970)
Original Story
Blow-Up (1966)
Screenwriter
Red Desert (1965)
Screenwriter
Camille Without Camellias (1965)
Screenplay
Camille Without Camellias (1965)
From Story
La notte (1962)
Screenwriter
Il grido (1962)
Screenwriter
Eclipse (1962)
Screenwriter
Le amiche (1962)
Screenwriter
L'avventura (1961)
Screenwriter
The Vanquished (1953)
From Story
Love in the City (1953)
Screenwriter
The Vanquished (1953)
Screenwriter
Love in the City (1953)
From Story ("Tentato Suicidio"--"When Love Fails")
The White Sheik (1952)
From Story
The White Sheik (1952)
Story By
La Villa dei mostri (1950)
Screenwriter
Story of a Love Affair (1950)
From Story
La Funivia del Faloria (1950)
Screenwriter
Sette canne e un vestito (1950)
Screenwriter
Story of a Love Affair (1950)
Screenplay
Oltre l'oblio (1948)
Screenwriter
Roma-Montevideo (1948)
Screenwriter
Gente del Po (1947)
Screenwriter
Un Pilota Ritorna (1942)
Screenwriter

Editing (Feature Film)

Identification of a Woman (1982)
Editor
The Mystery of Oberwald (1981)
Editor
The Passenger (1975)
Editor

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Beyond the Clouds (1995)
Other
Room 666 (1984)
Other
Camille Without Camellias (1965)
Other
Story of a Love Affair (1950)
Other

Cast (Special)

The 67th Annual Academy Awards (1995)

Director (Short)

The Passenger (Trailer) (1975)
Director

Writer (Short)

The Passenger (Trailer) (1975)
Screenplay

Editing (Short)

The Passenger (Trailer) (1975)
Editor

Life Events

1935

Wrote for newspaper, Il Corriere Padano in Ferrara

1935

Worked in bank

1939

Moved to Rome

1940

Began writing for magazine Cinema, 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"

1943

Worked as a translator of French literature

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

Photo Collections

Blow-Up - Movie Posters
Here are a variety of movie posters from Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966), including samples from France, America, and Japan.

Videos

Movie Clip

L'Eclisse (The Eclipse) (1962) -- (Movie Clip) I've Already Decided Most of Michelangelo Antonioni's disorienting opening scene, Monica Vitti as Vittoria, Francisco Rabal as boyfriend Riccardo, inside an apartment in Rome's modernistic EUR district, from the third film in the trilogy begun with L'Avventura and La Notte, L'Eclisse, 1962.
L'Eclisse (The Eclipse) (1962) -- (Movie Clip) I Made A Million Advancing no particular story line, Vittoria (Monica Vitti) visits the Rome stock exchange, where she flags down her mother (Lilla Brignone) and incidentally meets her broker Piero (Alain Delon), in third film Michelangelo Antonioni's trilogy of the period, L'Eclisse, 1962.
L'Eclisse (The Eclipse) (1962) -- (Movie Clip) This Is What Mama's Afraid Of Having retreated to the apartment of her mother (Lilla Brignone) from the Rome stock exchange, this is the first full encounter between newly unattached Vittoria (Monica Vitti) and Piero (Alain Delon), her mother's broker, in Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Eclisse, 1962.
Red Desert (1965) -- (Movie Clip) You Work To Support Your Family Director Michelangelo Antonioni’s opening, after artful credits on the same location, in industrial Ravenna finds his wife Monica Vitti, as troubled Giuliana, whom we’ll learn is not poor or starving, with her son Valerio (Bartoleschi), in Red Desert, 1965, also starring Richard Harris.
Red Desert (1965) -- (Movie Clip) The Gears Still Don't Quite Mesh In the plant in Ravenna, we meet engineer Ugo (Carlo Chionetti), Richard Harris his guest Zeller, looking to hire workers, when Ugo's wife Giuliana (Monica Vitti), whom we've seen crossing the industrial landscape, appears, and whom they discuss later, in Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert, 1965.
Red Desert (1965) -- (Movie Clip) Maybe Light Blue's Better Businessman Zeller (Richard Harris) visiting Ravenna, for no stated reason stops by the site of the shop being set up by neurotic Giuliana (Monica Vitti), the wife of his business contact, director Michelangelo Antonioni and his art director Piero Poletto at work, in Red Desert, 1965.
La Notte (1961) -- (Movie Clip) That What You Did Was Vile? Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni) confesses his sexual liaison just minutes earlier with a stranger, to his unimpressed wife Lidia (Jeanne Moreau), en route to a party marking publication of his new novel, in Michelangelo Antonioni's drama of alienation, La Notte, 1962.
La Notte (1961) -- (Movie Clip) It Would Be Pointless Joining director Michelangelo Antonioni's deliberate opening, we meet hospitalized Tomasso (Bernhard Wicki) , Giovanni and Lidia (Marcello Mastroainni, Jeanne Moreau) completing their progress through Milan, interrupted by a neighbor (Maria Pia Luzi), in La Notte, 1962.
La Notte (1961) -- (Movie Clip) Every Millionaire Wants His Own Intellectual Director Michelangelo Antonioni makes clear how desperately bored his principals, writer Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni) and wife Lidia (Jeanne Moreau), are with their lives and each other, barely able to decide whether to attend an upper-crust Milan party, in La Notte, 1962.
Zabriskie Point (1970) -- (Movie Clip) Potential Revolutionaries At a nameless California campus, director Michelangelo Antonioni drifts through a meeting of radicals, some emphasis on the score largely composed and performed by Pink Floyd, no particular story emerging, opening Zabriskie Point, 1970, camera by Tonino Guerra, and Sam Shepard among the screenwriters.
Zabriskie Point (1970) -- (Movie Clip) Could You Give Me Permission? The internationally acclaimed Italian art movie director Michelangelo Antonioni introduces three of his principals in his irresolute political portrait of Los Angeles “Daria” Halprin who lost a book, Rod Taylor who has a real job, and “Mark” Frechette who drives a truck, early in Zabriskie Point, 1970.
Zabriskie Point (1970) -- (Movie Clip) The Law Is For Peacetime Protagonist “Mark” Frechette, after friends were arrested at a campus uprising, visits an L-A gun shop, then director Michelangelo Antonioni visits an agency producing plenty weird ads, then G.D. Spradlin and a fellow professional discuss the news, in the deliberately disjointed Zabriskie Point, 1970.

Trailer

Family

Ismaele Antonioni
Father
Landowner.
Elisabetta Antonioni
Mother

Companions

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

Bibliography

"My Time with Antonioni"
Wim Wenders, Faber and Faber (2000)
"Antonioni: The Poet of Images"
William Arrowsmith, Oxford University Press (1995)
"That Bowling Alley on the Tiber: Tales of a Director"
Michelangelo Antonioni and William Arrowsmith", Oxford University Press (1985)

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.'"