Everything about Antonioni’s 1962 black & white film L’Eclisse felt eerily similar to my life. I kind of wondered how this could happen given that the film was made over 40 years ago. But L’Eclisse seems to embody this current decade and what I’ll denote as the confusing 20’s almost perfectly.
It starts off by capturing the chaos of an un-managed Italian financial system, where people are frantically searching for an explanation on their invested losses. No one seems to have an answer or a real explanation. Sound familiar? Piero, an apathetic stock broker not only doesn’t care about his clients but is angrily dismissive and belittling. He is a good-looking wealthy guy with access to a fancy life style he doesn’t appreciate or really value. That is until Vittoria catches his eye. Vittoria is an odd and powerful character, who I secretly admired throughout the film. She stands bold when ending her first relationship and like a teenager jumps into a summer fling with Piero, open-eyed and with eager. But something about her eagerness seems insincere. She seems to possess an understanding that solitude is perhaps more a reality than establishing a deep and meaningful connection with someone. She is convincing of this. She is young and strikingly beautiful so her difficulty in finding a place for her feelings in a dull yet chaotic life is kind of tortuous to watch. You think she could have it all- but she knows better.
There is something so empty and sad about his film yet the alienation Antonioni depicts is beautiful –at moments presenting us with trees, open streets, people doing mundane activities and then fancy cars, greed, and even death. Vittoria creates a chilling form of isolation, one that is both depressing and exciting as if she has the inside scoop on what most of us try to avoid facing day to day. And as she dances from scene to scene playfully and flirtatiously with Piero she avoids ‘knowing’ him. Her favorite line of the film becomes “I don’t know” which appears to represent her true state of mind. Does anyone ever know? At this fine age of 24, the film relieved me of a ‘having to know’ anxiety that we are sometimes hammered with.
You will watch these two beautiful people flirt and play with one another only to see that what they have is transient and empty, all amorous suggestions fade and the viewer is left to ponder Antonioni’s views on what love and life become of us.
Selected: Palme d’Or