Friday, June 20, 2008

La Notte: a masterpiece

I finally saw Antonioni's masterpiece La Notte. All the three main artists are superb. But if someone pushed and I had to choose, I'd say Marcello Mastroianni has a mastery of facial expressions where he can simultaneously exude contrasting feelings. Cinematography is just breathtaking and Antonioni's framing evokes such an intense intellectual response. Consider a scene: Jeanne Moreau feels trapped in large crowds and, wandering throughout the huge house where the party takes place, she ends up in a room from where she happens to look down through a large glass window at her novelist husband, Mastroianni, kissing Monica Vitti who while playing cat and mouse tells him to go back to his wife, he tells her, accurately, that it was infact his wife who'd had prodded him to Vitti. In a somewhat similar shot, Moreau locks her gaze, again through similar angle (up to down), briefly with another man she probably have known in the past. She averts her gaze. The framing of shots is simply amazing! Rain comes down and Moreau and the man take off in his sports car. The car parked, he tries to kiss her. She realizes she can't respond. They drive back. In the mean time, back at the house, lights go out when Mastroianni searches for his wife. Antonioni creates such a simple but intense geometry of emotion and then replicates it with surroundings or architecture that hightens alienation. More to come, perhaps.
The party takes place throughout the night. The couple visits a dying friend in a hospital. At some point Moreau phones the hospital from the party house and finds out the friend has died.

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