L'Eclisse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962, Italy/France)

L'Eclisse is the third in the group of films that legendary Italian auteur Michelangelo Antonioni made with actress Monica Vitti, following 1960's L'Avventura and 1961's La Notte. By this point, Antonioni had already become a global phenomenon, drawing accolades and criticism on the world stage. His films of the early 60s sought to examine a sickness at the core of modern Italy. Deeply modern, these films showed emotionally vacant characters whose emotional states were represented by the landscape around them. Most notably, we can see this on the rocky Sicilian island which forms the striking landscape for the emotional turmoil of L'Avventura.

L'Eclisse stands in contrast to the prior two films in that the action takes place primarily in a city. In this case, the city is modern Rome. Nature rarely makes an appearance in the film, and when it does, it is usually of the scrubby variety. One of the first landmarks we see in the film - outside the window of Monica Vitti's apartment - is a domed industrial building that resembles an alien spacecraft. This alien-like view of industrialized Rome and Italy is ever-present throughout the film, with Antonioni's gaze presenting a disturbing vision. This vision is enhanced by the geopolitical events of the time, as there is a current of dread underneath the film - no doubt informed by the potential for nuclear war that was in the air at the time.


The other major aspect of the film is its scenes at the stock exchange, which represent a change of pace in their wild energy. Antonioni suggests that our lives are controlled by forces that we don't understand. L'Eclisse feels more relevant today than it probably did in 1962, and it is remarkable how modern it still feels. Worth revisiting for any fans of cinema.


9/10

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