L'avventura


2h 25m 1961
L'avventura

Brief Synopsis

When an heiress vanishes on a remote island, her best friend and fiance search for her.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Adventure
Genre
Drama
Mystery
Foreign
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 Apr 1961
Production Company
Cino del Duca; Produzione Cinematografiche Europee; Société Cinématographique Lyre
Distribution Company
Janus Films
Country
France
Location
Milazzo, Italy; Taormina, Italy; Catania, Italy; Rome, Italy; Sicily, Italy; Lipari, Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

A group of wealthy, jaded Italian socialites are the members of a yachting party cruising off the northeast coast of Sicily. Included in the small group are Sandro, a 40-year-old architect who has long since abandoned his artistic principles for a life of easy commercial success; Anna, Sandro's mistress, who is dissatisfied with their almost purely sexual relationship; and Claudia, Anna's friend, who is the one member of the party unaccustomed to a life of wealth. They go ashore to explore a barren, volcanic island. Following a sudden storm, it is discovered that Anna has disappeared. A search of the island proves fruitless, and Claudia blames Anna's apparent suicide on Sandro's heartlessness. Separately, and then together, however, Claudia and Sandro visit places on the mainland where a strange girl is said to have been seen. Gradually, as it becomes more and more apparent that Anna is not going to be found, Claudia and Sandro turn to each other. Though she at first resists his advances, her feelings of shame and guilt are overcome by her passion, and she becomes his mistress. Later, the two lovers rejoin their friends at a party in an elegant hotel in Taormina. That night Claudia awakens to find Sandro gone. She prowls through the hotel until she discovers him clumsily making love to a high-class prostitute. As Claudia stares at him, Sandro realizes the uselessness and emptiness of his actions. Filled with despair, he wanders out into the cold, gray dawn and begins to sob quietly. Claudia follows him and, feeling compassion and desolation, places her hands on his shoulders and wordlessly forgives him.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Adventure
Genre
Drama
Mystery
Foreign
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 Apr 1961
Production Company
Cino del Duca; Produzione Cinematografiche Europee; Société Cinématographique Lyre
Distribution Company
Janus Films
Country
France
Location
Milazzo, Italy; Taormina, Italy; Catania, Italy; Rome, Italy; Sicily, Italy; Lipari, Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

L'Avventura


Anna (Lea Massari), a woman engaged in a troubled love affair, takes an ocean cruise with a yacht full of rich passengers. When they disembark on a small island near Sicily, Anna disappears and, for much of the film, the woman's best friend Claudia (Monica Vitti) and Anna's lover Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) search for her, while dealing with the emotional impact of her disappearance.

L'Avventura (1960), which translates to "the adventure," is a landmark film in the international art cinema for its dramatically unconventional storyline, which rambles from Sandro and Claudia's search for Anna, to their own developing love affair. Eventually the film becomes a more amorphous tale of human alienation and incommunicability.

Long before it was fashionable, film pioneer Michelangelo Antonioni trafficked in a kind of modern ennui later examined by contemporary directors like Neil LaBute and Steven Soderbergh. Critic Pauline Kael called the film "upper-class neo-realism -- the poetry of moral and spiritual poverty." The film marked the initial collaboration between Antonioni and stage actress Monica Vitti, who, like Jean-Luc Godard's Anna Karina or Josef von Sternberg's Marlene Dietrich, would go on to appear as Antonioni's muse in a number of productions and to embody his mood of troubled alienation.

That failure of characters to connect was a theme Antonioni masterfully reiterated in the look of L'Avventura, a film as visually innovative as it was thematically rich. Refusing to use conventions of the classical Hollywood cinema like point-of-view shots, Antonioni thus frustrated his audience's identification with his characters. Using the widescreen frame to effective ends, Antonioni had his actors spread out across the frame to emphasize their physical and emotional distance from each other. Such existential chilliness could also be attributed to a production that ran months over schedule, so that summer scenes had to be shot in wintertime.

L'Avventura was the first film in Antonioni's loose trilogy including La Notte (1961) and The Eclipse (1962), films which shared a thematic interest in what critic William S. Pechter calls "the death of feeling."

For Pechter, "L'Avventura's importance lies not in any technical innovation but in its giant appropriation for the film medium of a territory of psychological subtlety and emotional nuance previously thought exclusively to belong to the novel."

When it was screened at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, L'Avventura was greeted with hisses and boos. Present at that screening, critic Penelope Houston was disturbed to note audience members yelling "cut!" when shots were thought to go on too long and jeering rudely during love scenes. Though he had made five previous films, that volatile Cannes screening signaled Antonioni's true arrival on the international film scene. And despite that angry reception, he later won both a Cannes Special Jury Award and the Critics' Award. Unused to the free-form, unresolved structure of the film and Antonioni's refusal to court emotional involvement with his protagonists, audiences and some critics often found the film frustratingly incomprehensible and pretentious. Many remarked upon the frustration of Claudia and Sandro eventually giving up their search for Anna, and a sense of disconnection between the film's initial promised "adventure," and the bulk of the film, which never returns to that mystery. That free-form structure was acknowledged as a conscious working method by Antonioni who conceded "I never know where I will arrive with a picture."

Befuddling to audiences and offensive to censors, the distinct moral ambiguity of L'Avventura earned the film a "condemned" rating by the National League of Decency, obviously due in part to the joyless, mechanical way that many of the characters go about lovemaking. Many were simply perplexed by the film, including the New York Times critic Bosley Crowther who wrote in his review "What Michelangelo Antonioni ... is trying to get across in this highly touted Italian mystery drama is a secret he seems to be determined to conceal from the audience."

Yet, despite the initially hostile reception of the film, 35 critics and filmmakers including Roberto Rossellini recognized the unprecedented artistic vision of L'Avventura and issued a statement of support for this misunderstood film. In France, it was one of the biggest commercial successes of the year. Today L'Avventura is considered a masterpiece, and has been declared one of the ten best films of all time in a Sight and Sound International Critics Poll.

Producer: Cino del Duca
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Screenplay: Michelangelo Antonioni
Cinematography: Aldo Scavarda
Production Design: Piero Poletto
Music: Giovanni Fusco
Cast: Monica Vitti (Claudia), Gabriele Ferzetti (Sandro), Lea Massari (Anna), Dominique Blanchar (Giulia), James Addams (Corrado), Renzo Ricci (Anna's Father).
BW&C-144m. Letterboxed.

by Felicia Feaster
L'avventura

L'Avventura

Anna (Lea Massari), a woman engaged in a troubled love affair, takes an ocean cruise with a yacht full of rich passengers. When they disembark on a small island near Sicily, Anna disappears and, for much of the film, the woman's best friend Claudia (Monica Vitti) and Anna's lover Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) search for her, while dealing with the emotional impact of her disappearance. L'Avventura (1960), which translates to "the adventure," is a landmark film in the international art cinema for its dramatically unconventional storyline, which rambles from Sandro and Claudia's search for Anna, to their own developing love affair. Eventually the film becomes a more amorphous tale of human alienation and incommunicability. Long before it was fashionable, film pioneer Michelangelo Antonioni trafficked in a kind of modern ennui later examined by contemporary directors like Neil LaBute and Steven Soderbergh. Critic Pauline Kael called the film "upper-class neo-realism -- the poetry of moral and spiritual poverty." The film marked the initial collaboration between Antonioni and stage actress Monica Vitti, who, like Jean-Luc Godard's Anna Karina or Josef von Sternberg's Marlene Dietrich, would go on to appear as Antonioni's muse in a number of productions and to embody his mood of troubled alienation. That failure of characters to connect was a theme Antonioni masterfully reiterated in the look of L'Avventura, a film as visually innovative as it was thematically rich. Refusing to use conventions of the classical Hollywood cinema like point-of-view shots, Antonioni thus frustrated his audience's identification with his characters. Using the widescreen frame to effective ends, Antonioni had his actors spread out across the frame to emphasize their physical and emotional distance from each other. Such existential chilliness could also be attributed to a production that ran months over schedule, so that summer scenes had to be shot in wintertime. L'Avventura was the first film in Antonioni's loose trilogy including La Notte (1961) and The Eclipse (1962), films which shared a thematic interest in what critic William S. Pechter calls "the death of feeling." For Pechter, "L'Avventura's importance lies not in any technical innovation but in its giant appropriation for the film medium of a territory of psychological subtlety and emotional nuance previously thought exclusively to belong to the novel." When it was screened at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, L'Avventura was greeted with hisses and boos. Present at that screening, critic Penelope Houston was disturbed to note audience members yelling "cut!" when shots were thought to go on too long and jeering rudely during love scenes. Though he had made five previous films, that volatile Cannes screening signaled Antonioni's true arrival on the international film scene. And despite that angry reception, he later won both a Cannes Special Jury Award and the Critics' Award. Unused to the free-form, unresolved structure of the film and Antonioni's refusal to court emotional involvement with his protagonists, audiences and some critics often found the film frustratingly incomprehensible and pretentious. Many remarked upon the frustration of Claudia and Sandro eventually giving up their search for Anna, and a sense of disconnection between the film's initial promised "adventure," and the bulk of the film, which never returns to that mystery. That free-form structure was acknowledged as a conscious working method by Antonioni who conceded "I never know where I will arrive with a picture." Befuddling to audiences and offensive to censors, the distinct moral ambiguity of L'Avventura earned the film a "condemned" rating by the National League of Decency, obviously due in part to the joyless, mechanical way that many of the characters go about lovemaking. Many were simply perplexed by the film, including the New York Times critic Bosley Crowther who wrote in his review "What Michelangelo Antonioni ... is trying to get across in this highly touted Italian mystery drama is a secret he seems to be determined to conceal from the audience." Yet, despite the initially hostile reception of the film, 35 critics and filmmakers including Roberto Rossellini recognized the unprecedented artistic vision of L'Avventura and issued a statement of support for this misunderstood film. In France, it was one of the biggest commercial successes of the year. Today L'Avventura is considered a masterpiece, and has been declared one of the ten best films of all time in a Sight and Sound International Critics Poll. Producer: Cino del Duca Director: Michelangelo Antonioni Screenplay: Michelangelo Antonioni Cinematography: Aldo Scavarda Production Design: Piero Poletto Music: Giovanni Fusco Cast: Monica Vitti (Claudia), Gabriele Ferzetti (Sandro), Lea Massari (Anna), Dominique Blanchar (Giulia), James Addams (Corrado), Renzo Ricci (Anna's Father). BW&C-144m. Letterboxed. by Felicia Feaster

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Island scenes filmed off the coast of Sicily. Opened in Paris in September 1960; running time: 139 min; in Rome in November 1960 at 130 min. Also known in the United States as The Adventure.

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.

Voted One of the Five Best Films of All Time in a recent poll of international film critics conducted by "Sight & Sound" Magazine.

Released in United States Spring April 5, 1961

Released in United States on Video February 23, 1994

Released in United States September 25, 1960

Released in United States August 17, 1990

Released in United States January 2000

Shown in New York City (Cinema Village) as part of Janus Films 40th Anniversary Film Festival December 13, 1996 - January 2, 1997.

Shown at Lincoln Center, New York City in the series "A Roman Holiday" August 17, 1990.

Released in USA on laserdisc 1989.

Released in United States Spring April 5, 1961

Released in United States on Video February 23, 1994

Released in United States September 25, 1960 (Premiered in Bologna September 25, 1960.)

Released in United States August 17, 1990 (Shown at Lincoln Center, New York City in the series "A Roman Holiday" August 17, 1990.)

Released in United States January 2000 (Shown in New York City (Anthology Film Archives) as part of program "Kino International Retrospective" January 6-27, 2000.)