Background

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, L’avventura is an Italian film from 1960. Its original Criterion release (DVD) was on June 5th 2001 and it was later released on Blu-Ray on November 25th 2014 as spine #98. It is one of five films that Antonioni has on the Criterion Collection, which include La Notte (Spine #678), L’eclisse (Spine #278), Red Desert (#522), Identification of a Woman (Spine #585), and his writing credit for Federico Fellini’s The White Shiek (Spine #189).

Story

When a young woman goes missing on a boat trip, the search brings her lover and best friend together, illuminating a sexual L'Avventurarelationship. A struggle of acceptance and guilt ensues for Claudia (Monica Vitti), as Sandaro (Gabrielle Ferzetti) does his best to make her forget about Anna and his downfalls.

The Film

 L’avventura snatches viewer’s attention through the use of basic human feelings love and lust. The film pits man against woman in an even-handed manner; their interactions on screen embody the sadistic undertones of these common feelings.

Claudia represents the lack of control that goes hand-in-hand with love. Sandaro is presented as an imperfect man whose hand is almost forced by lust.  These two emotions play hand-in-hand as these characters become lost in their own selfish search, nearly forgetting about the death of their friend.

This central idea is amplified by the ability of Antonioni and his mastery of the language of film. The score is built on little more than  natural sound playing in deep quiet, a decision that leads us to focus on the characters’ struggle. There is a natural tone to the elements of construction in this movie, which, with the director’s expressive and creative camera work, results in a strengthening of the emotional expression so explicitly communicated in the film’s events.

(Pay close attention to the camera work at 1:54 for an early example of Antonioni’s ability)

Supplements

This Blu-Ray release offers some very interesting features. A full audio commentary from Gene Yougblood (film historian) is an interesting listen and writings from Antonioni are read by Jack Nicholson and the actor also offers his own take on the director. But one of the most important and most interesting supplements I have come across in the Criterion Collection is included in the inserted booklet which showcases a statement made by Antonioni at the original release of the film at the Cannes Film Festival in 1960. Here he explores his deep connection with the idea behind his film and how it relates to our culture.

Overall

This release brings us some very interesting supplements and a brilliant excerpt from an interview with Antonioni. The film itself is an exemplary take on technique as we are gifted with masterful camera work and it is stated, in the synopsis by The Criterion Collection, that “Michelangelo Antonioni invented a new film grammar with this master work”. There is simply no other way to put it. This is a must for any Criterion collector and film lover.

Criterion Grade: A-

Film Grade: A