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L’Avventura

L'AvventuraGroundbreaking Italian director
  Michelangelo Antonioni redefined
  the concept of narrative cinema,
  challenging the accepted notions
  at the heart of storytelling, realism,
  drama and the world at large. His
  L
’Avventura was voted the second
  best film of all time, beaten only
 
by Citizen Kane...”

THE AWARD-WINNING MASTERPIECE L
'Avventura was the film that established Michelangelo Antonioni as an international talent. Together with Identification Of A Woman — another Cannes winner — it is to be released for the first time on DVD in the UK, courtesy of Mr Bongo Films.

L'Avventura is Antonioni's tour de force. It is a landmark film that put him on the international map and garnered huge critical acclaim at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival — winning the Special Jury Prize for a new movie language and the beauty of its images.

The film opens with a father and his daughter, Anna (Lea Massari), having an uncomfort-able conversation. It is clear that there is a problem between them — something in the past that had come between them. And he also makes it obvious that he doesn't approve of the man Anna is planning to marry.

Anna is morose and appears to be a troubled young woman. She has been invited to go sailing with a group of fellow socialites and goes off to meet her friend Claudia (Monica Vitti), but leaves her on her own to spend some time making love with her fiancé, Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti), before they all join the yacht. Nothing appears to make Anna smile — not even something that is supposed to be enjoyable. She seems to play out her life as a tragedy.

The yacht heads out to the Aeolian Islands — stark rocks that were once volcanoes, jutting out of the sea. While exploring one of the islands, a small boat goes past and is barely noticed. Then Anna goes missing and the local police are called in, detaining a band of smugglers as suspects.

Concerned that Anna is nowhere to be found, Sandro and Claudia take off across Italy following up possible sightings of her and coming across a motley assortment of characters including sexy publicity-seeking Gloria Perkins (Dorothy de Poliolo), who claims she is in touch with the dead and contacts Shakespeare and Tolstoy, who write through her; and a strange Chemist in Troina who claims to have seen Anna and who is a womaniser who treats his wife with disdain.

As they spend more and more time together Claudia and Sandro become closer and appear to be alone in their concern for Anna's disappearance. Eventually they begin an affair and although Claudia rebuffs him at first, she finally gives in and has to balance her feelings for him with her guilt about taking up with her best friend's lover. An interesting scene is shot in an Italian square full of men who seem to be staring at Claudia and echoes her guilt.

L'Avventura explores relationships between men and women who are supposed to care for each other. A complex film, it inevitably exposes pain, retaliation and resentment on an interesting journey that speaks volumes about the way we are treated and how we react. There are clever shots and much thought-provoking dialogue: "The idea of losing you makes me want to die but I don't feel you any more," Anna cryptically tells Sandro.

The interaction of other characters is strained, too. On board the yacht, Giulia (Dominique Blanchar) and Corrado (James Addams) seem at odds with each other — at once point on the island he turns his back on her — and Raimondo (Lelio Luttazi) and Patrizia (Esmeralda Ruspoli) seem indifferent towards one another. L'Avventura appears to be a series of brief encounters and meaningless relationships; the character development is sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant but only Cosimo the dog seems truly happy!

Giulia's flirtation with 17-year-old artist Goffredo (Giovanni Petrucci) is deliberately played out to a disapproving Claudia and is a classic example of the games people play. L'Avventura is a film of contradictions with echoes of Anna haunting every scene. Michelangelo Antonioni does bored, complicated and troubled socialites so well, exposing their empty lives to scrutiny while the beautiful Italian architecture serves as a rich and powerful backdrop.

The film also features Renzo Ricci, Lelio Luttazzi, Giovanni Petrucci, and Esmeralda Ruspoli. The Director of Photography is Aldo Scavarda and there is the delightful music of Giovanni Fusco.

In Italy, according to the film, 40,000 people disappeared each year in the 1980s. L'Avventura is inconclusive — as Antonioni's offerings usually are; and there are few clues to Anna's disappearance and many possible red herrings. But as a study of human behaviour it is superb, and Sight & Sound tellingly voted it the second best film of all time, beaten only by Citizen Kane.

L'Avventura is available now on DVD (released 16 June, 2008) at an RRP of £14.99.

"L'Avventura gave me one of the most profound shocks I've ever had at the movies…
[It] changed my perception of cinema and the world around me and made both seem limitless" — Martin Scorsese

"L'Avventura is a film of contradictions with echoes of Anna haunting every scene. Michelangelo Antonioni does bored, complicated and troubled socialites so well, exposing their empty lives to scrutiny while the beautiful Italian architecture serves as a rich and powerful backdrop" — MotorBar