Italy, 1955, 104 minutes
Sun, Apr 26 / 3:00 / Castro / LEAM26C
Tue, Apr 28 / 8:15 / PFA / LEAM28P
The international breakthrough of Michelangelo Antonioni in the 1960s, which made him the world’s most notorious cult filmmaker, also largely overshadowed his earlier films, including this gem, which has rarely been shown in this country. Yet in this tale of desperate upper-class Italian housewives are to be found all of the great artist’s concerns embodied in his later, better known works. Antonioni explores the inner lives of female characters with a story that centers around Clelia (Eleonora Rossi Drago), who comes from a working-class background but now holds an important position in a fashion salon. While Clelia is on a business trip to Turin, a young woman attempts suicide in the hotel room next door. Clelia befriends her, thus becoming introduced to the circle of her socialite girlfriends, including the cynical Momina (Yvonne Furneaux) and the more sympathetic Nene (Valentina Cortese), with their serial affairs and charming but distanced take on life. Nowhere in Antonioni’s films has an ensemble of characters woven a more complex web of relationships. Antonioni’s genius for visual storytelling is in evidence here too, especially in the famous scene involving all the characters at the seashore, their complex relationships echoed in the camera movements, composition and positioning of the actors, the techniques that have set Antonioni apart as a peerless cinematic craftsman. The Cineteca di Bologna has made a new digitally restored print from the original black-and-white 35mm camera negatives, creating the best possible circumstances for rediscovering this underappreciated classic.
Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata with funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation. Presented by The Film Foundation and Gucci. Presented with support from the Italian Cultural Institute, San Francisco. Photograph courtesy of the Cineteca di Bologna.