Combustible Celluloid
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With: Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti, Lea Massari, Dominique Blanchar, Renzo Ricci
Written by: Michelangelo Antonioni, Elio Bartolini, Tonino Guerra
Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Italian with English subtitles
Running Time: 145
Date: 05/15/1960

L'Avventura (1960)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Inner Space

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This 1960 masterpiece by Michelangelo Antonioni is about a group of bored vacationers who go on a boat trip. When one woman turns up missing, her lover (Gabriele Ferzetti) and her best friend (the lovely Monica Vitti) go searching for her on a rocky island. Eventually they give up and start a half-hearted romance of their own.

Antonioni's use of black-and-white in a big, open frame is nearly unparalleled in history. His locations loom over the actors and the empty spaces make them seem tiny and insignificant. To date, this is the best Italian film I've seen.

A great film from Michelangelo Antonioni gets the masterpiece treatment from the Criterion Collection on this gorgeous, beautifully mastered double-disc DVD set. Jack Nicholson, who worked with Antonioni in The Passenger, reads from a few essays and provides his own remarks about the great director. The second disc also includes a wonderful vintage feature-length documentary.

In 2014, Criterion offered a great new Blu-ray release, mastered in high-def with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Most of the same extras are here (no "restoration demonstration"), plus a new analysis of the film by critic-turned-filmmaker Olivier Assayas. I'm going to have to check that out and update this post shortly. But otherwise, this is one of my favorite films, and one of the greats.

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