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La Notte (The Night)
La Notte (The Night) One of the masterworks
  of 1960s cinema, La Notte
  (The Night) marked yet
  another development in
  the continuous stylistic
  evolution of the director
  Michelangelo Antonioni
  and it solidified his
  reputation as one of the
  greatest artistes of the
  20th Century...”

DIRECTED BY THE LATE MICHEL-ANGELO ANTONIONI (1912-2007) — the genius Italian Director behind such films as L'avventura, L'eclisse, The Red Desert, Blow Up, Zabriskie Point, and The Passenger La Notte stars international movie legends Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau and Antonioni's then-partner, Monica Vitti (L'avventura, L'eclisse, The Red Desert).

La Notte has been called Antonioni's Twilight of the Gods, composed in cinematic terms, and it is shot in black-and-white; creating wonderful images from a crane over the sprawling city of Milan, reflections in glass buildings and sights from the viewer's perspective where the camera looks over the shoulder of the character. A rather bleak story, the film is a study of Italy's upper middle class, seen in close-up; an
X-ray of modern man's psychic desolation. The dialogue, translated from Italian, is intriguing — Giovanni describes his artistry as: "A lonely craftsman, putting one word after another."

Giovanni Pontano (Marcello Mastroianni, La Dolce Vita, 8½) is a renowned author and intellectual, married to Lidia (Jeanne Moreau, Jules et Jim, Bay Of Angels) and living in a smart apartment block in Milan.

But their relationship is in crisis — Moreau displays Lidia's misery perfectly with barely a smile throughout the entire film.

La Notte starts with the day leading up to The Night in question when the couple visit their dying friend, Tommaso Garani (Bernard Wicky), in hospital. Giovanni is given an opportunity to seduce an attractive patient when the distraught Lidia leaves and later, when Giovanni tells his wife about the incident, he describes it as "hideous".

Later, at his book launch, Lidia walks out and roams the streets. Out-side a derelict building she tries to comfort a crying child and stares at a broken clock — which may signify that, for her, time has stopped.

She takes a taxi to the area where she and Giovanni used to live, now neglected, with the old railway line overgrown — almost as if that part of their life has been swallowed up. A group of youths gather round two who are fighting and Lidia screams at them to stop before running off and telephoning Giovanni to fetch her.

La Notte (The Night)

Lidia is restless and Giovanni suggests they go to a party at the Gher-ardini's. "Every millionaire wants his own intellectual and he's picked you," she sighs. She then says she wants them to be alone, but at a nightclub (where an attractive striptease artiste does an amazing balancing act with a glass of wine) she changes her mind again and they go to the party.

Gherardini's villa is in Brianza, a few miles outside Milan and on the
way Giovanni tells Lidia: "I no longer have inspirations; only memories." As well as examining Lidia and Giovanni's lives, the film hints at the
sad and unfulfilled lives of other people — Resy, who flatters Giovanni; Berenice who is alone and the cynical Valentina Gherardini (Monica Vitti) to whom Giovanni is attracted.

Because he is with Valentina, he doesn't notice when Lidia leaves. "I think love restricts a person; it creates misunderstanding all round," reflects Valentina. "Whenever I try to communicate… love disappears." She plays him some of her distinctive prose: "A garden's silence is made of sounds, press your ear to a tree and listen…" before destroying the tape.

Eventually, Lidia and Giovanni re-examine their emotional bonds. She tells him about her relationship with Tommaso and why she feels like dying — but can love and communication be possible in a world built out of profligate idylls and sexual hysteria?

Photographed in rapturous black-and-white by the great Gianni di Venanzo (8½, Giuiletta Degli Spiriti), La Notte presents the beauty of seduction then asks: When did this occur — the seduction of beauty?"

The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Michelangelo Antonioni's haunted odyssey in a new digital restoration, uncut for the first time ever on home video. The film was produced by Emanuele Cassuto and the evocative music is by Giorgio Gaslini.

Michelangelo Antonioni's La Notte (The Night) is to be released
on 24 March (2008) at an RRP of £19.99.

Catalogue No: EKA40258 | Running Time: 118 Minutes | Format: B&W | Genre: World Cinema/Drama | Director: Michelangelo Antonioni | Year: 1961 | Country: Italy

Special features — New restoration of the film in its original 1.75:1 aspect ratio with previously censored sequences restored for the first time | New and improved English subtitles | Original Italian theatrical trailer | Includes a 40-page booklet with a new essay by film critic and scholar Brad Stevens, and the transcript of a lengthy Q&A conducted in 1961 with Antonioni upon the film's release.

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