"L'Avventura" created a stir in 1960, when Kael picked itas the best film of the year. It was seen as the flip side of Fellini's"La Dolce Vita." Both directors were Italian, both depicted theircharacters in a fruitless search for sensual pleasure, both films ended at dawnwith emptiness and soul-sickness. But Fellini's characters, who weremiddle-class and had lusty appetites, at least were hopeful on their way todespair. For Antonioni's idle and decadent rich people, pleasure is anythingthat momentarily distracts them from the lethal ennui of their existence. Kaelagain: "The characters are active only in trying to discharge theiranxiety: Sex is their sole means of contact."
I did not much connect with the film when I saw it first--howcould I, at 18? These people were bored by a lifestyle beyond my wildestdreams. When I taught the film in a class 15 years later, it seemed affectedand contrived, a feature-length idea but not a movie. Only recently, seeing itagain, did I realize how much clarity and passion Antonioni brought to thefilm's silent cry of despair. 2b1af7f3a8