Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Adventure (L'Avventura) (1960)

De elskendes eventyr
I frankly have no idea what to write about ”L’Avventura” (The Adventure). It felt like a very long and empty shell and I still have no idea what this was all about.

Let us just start with the story because that is very easy. A group of wealthy Italian people are going on a boat picnic to some volcanic islands off the Sicilian coast. Anna (Lea Massari) is uneasy about her relationship this Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti). I still have no idea exactly what was bothering her, but she seems quietly desperate. On the boat ride she lies about seeing a shark and confides that something is wrong to her friend Claudia (Monica Vitti). Then she disappears. They all go looking for her but to no avail. When the others resign the search and return to their lives Monica and Sandro continue looking for Anna.

They never find her but in the process of looking for her they start an affair with each other. Claudia is suffering guilt, not knowing whether she wants to fall in love with Sandro and that is about it. For 2½ hours.

To say that watching this movie was a frustrating experience is an understatement. Nothing happens. At all. It is a beautifully shot movie and particularly Monica Vitti is a revelation, but considering the critical acclaim of this movie there is clearly more to this movie, but what?

I will venture onto very thin ice and say that this may have something to do with the way Claudia perceives the world. I kept getting this feeling from her that she senses exactly what is going on around her, but lacks the words to express it and the ability to process it. You can see it in her eyes that reveal understanding or are disconcerted when she catches a wrong vibe. When Sandro hits on her she feels both guilt and that there is something not entirely trustworthy about Sandro.

Another possibility, and now I am really guessing, is that Claudia and Sandro are archetypes for men and women and the way the two genders understands and communicates with each other. Claudiu is all erratic and illogical feeling and unspoken needs and Sandro is all about getting into her pants, direct and literal. To me that sounds more like a cliché than archetypes and a tale that has been told a million times before.

Of course there is the possibility that this is not about anything at all, but just a 2½ hours of wasted time, something critics would never admit to not understanding and consequently praise it to the skies. A part of me likes this idea, but I honestly do not think it is that simple. This is Michelangelo Antonioni after all and the prizes it was awarded were quite significant, so I will probably have to resign and admit that it is just me being too stupid to get it.

What did make the movie somewhat bearable was Monica Vitti. Her expressive acting and sense of presence is outstanding and I understand she will feature in several more movies on the list. That is truly something to look forward to.

One of the more or less pointless scenes involves Claudia’s friend obviously having an affair with a young painter. The paintings he was making were quite interesting, sort of a mix of Miro and Picasso. It is kind of sad when this is what I remember from the movie.

Anyway, if anyone can explain to me why this movie is so fantastic please step forward. I am at a loss and very much need some help here.


  1. I've seen this twice. The first time my reaction was exactly the same as yours. The second I thought it was a masterpiece. Darned if I can remember why though! Let's see how it fares on the third viewing.

    1. I suppose it is about finding the clue, the motive that makes sense. Without it it is just a very long time of not much.

  2. I found this kind of interesting almost in spite of itself. A part of me thinks, though, that if everyone in the film just disappeared, nothing would be different--it's a film about itself.

    1. I read your review and I thing you found the meaning of the movie. Or at least an explanation that makes a lot more sense than what I came up with. They live pointless lives and nothing they do really matters. It is all shallow and hollow wasting of time and lives. Actually that makes the movie quite depressive.