Friday, 18 April 2008

L'ECLISSE/The Eclipse (1962)

I know that Cerpts over at the Land of Cerpts and Honey has been gearing himself up to tackle this movie and it wasn't my intention to write about it myself. But I watched the film again last night for the first time since its original release and it won't let me go back to sleep until I've said my piece. Back in the early 1960's I was lucky enough to see Michelangelo Antonioni's trilogy of films in quick succession and of the three titles, L'AVVENTURA, LA NOTTE and L'ECLISSE, it was L'ECLISSE that impressed me most. In retrospect, several decades later, I'm damned if I can remember why. In my mind's eye it is the other two films that have stayed in my memory. Watching L'ECLISSE again, last night, I felt that this opinion was being justified. But, I awoke about an hour ago and the film was running through my brain and I knew that it was just as brilliant as I thought all those years ago. As the opening title role we hear a trendy little Italian pop song on the soundtrack. Suddenly this changes to something more sinister and disturbing and, for me, this simple musical effect sets the somewhat edgy mood of the rest of the film. The simplest scene seems to have an almost schizophrenic undercurrent; a delightful African dance performed by Vitti during a girly night with friends comes to an abrupt halt when her friend suddenly says "let's stop playing at negroes" and then launches into a racialist description of the people she knew in Kenya as "monkeys still living in trees", an episode soon after this, involving a search for a lost dog which ends with the said dog reducing Vitti to laughter by its antics becomes something darker and disorientating - Antonioni brilliantly using architecture to isolate and alienate his characters throughout the film. I'm deliberately not giving away the plot in this piece as L'ECLISSE should really be experienced without preconceptions although I'm still not sure that after forty years or more I really know exactly what is going on. I look forward to Cerpts review on his blog as he has only seen the film for the first time recently. It is an extraordinary piece of cinema - one that will worm its way into your mind. Rating *****
Click on the link in the right hand column and jump over to The Land of Cerpts and Honey and read Cerpts brilliant piece on this great movie.


Cerpts said...

"Worms your way into your mind" is probably the perfect description of this movie. Maybe that's the reason (as well as everything else you said about the film) that I have been unable to find the words to talk about this extraordinary movie. I particularly love the fact that you rewatched it, were bewilderingly unimpressed and the film WOKE YOU UP later. This is exactly it's quality; it somehow invisibly works its way into your mind and packs a wallop without showing you exactly HOW it's doing that. Since I haven't watched the movie in about a month, it's probably about time I watched it AGAIN and maybe took a stab at it. Your writing about L'ECLISSE, despite its brevity, really struck at the heart of the matter and reawoke the niggling, insinuating ghost of the film inside my brain once again. Who knows. . .maybe this time I'll find some words.

Weaverman said...

It is, for the most part, not my intention to do long reviews. My pieces are really about my reaction to films rather that about the films - except whe I try to point to significant moments.
Hopefully this compliments your longer reviews and some of the many things written about the movies elsewhere on the web. I have another viewing of L'ECLISSE set for tonight...hopefully it won't involve another bout of sleeplessness.