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12 September 2015

L'Eclisse (1962)

Today opens the exhibition Michelangelo Antonioni – Il maestro del cinema moderno in Eye Film Institute in Amsterdam. Our favourite Antonioni film is L'Eclisse/The Eclipse (1962). Enigmatic Monica Vitti stars as a young woman who breaks off with an older lover and then has an affair with a confident young stockbroker (Alain Delon - young and very handsome). His materialistic nature eventually undermines their relationship. L'Eclisse won the Special Jury Award at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Palme d'Or. 

Monica Vitti in L'eclisse
Dutch postcard by De Muinck en Co, Amsterdam, no. 809. Photo: publicity still for L'eclisse/The Eclipse (1962).

Monica Vitti and Alain Delon in L'eclisse (1962)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for L'eclisse/The Eclipse (1962).

As long as their love will endure


In EUR, a modernistic suburb of Rome, a young translator, Vittoria (Monica Vitti) leaves her lover, the writer Riccardo (Francisco Rabal), and terminates their 4-year relationship. Following several sleepless nights, she visits her estranged mother (Lila Brignone) at the stock exchange.

There the dynamic young stockbroker Piero (Alain Delon) casts his romantic gaze in Vittoria's direction. Although they have little in common, Vittoria visits Piero in his office, and they make plans to meet again that night and for every night thereafter - for as long as their love will endure.

Eleanor Mannikka at AllMovie: "There is much to appreciate in this man who is not overly intellectual and is blessedly free of complications, and the same can be said of Vittoria. Yet their innermost fears play upon both of them in ways that go against an honest expression of their love -- and against a lasting relationship."

L'eclisse caps off Michelangelo Antonioni's previous two films, L'avventura (1960) and La Notte (1961), in much the same style. Characteristic for Antonioni's films are the long, significant periods of silence. The people in his film just cannot seem to communicate with each other.

Monica Vitti and Alain Delon in L'Eclisse
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmulu Acin. C.P.C.S. Photo: publicity still for L'eclisse/The Eclipse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962).

Monica Vitti and Alain Delon in L'eclisse (1962)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for L'eclisse/The Eclipse (1962).

Monica Vitti and Alain Delon in L'eclisse, 1962
Small Romanian collectors card by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for L'eclisse/The Eclipse (1962).

A form of poetry


L'eclisse rejects action in favour of contemplation. Images and design are more important than character and story. The long takes and elegant compositions, filmed by Gianni De Venanzo, the elongated views on a building or a street-light, manage to create a form of poetry.

With her wild blond hair, Monica Vitti is perfect as the confused Vittoria. She displays just enough emotion to realise the character, but is malleable enough for Antonioni to illustrate his theme through her.

Alain Delon never looked more handsome than in L'Eclisse. He conveys emotions easily with just the flick of an eyebrow. Delon portrays the materialistic, spiritually empty stockbroker quite effectively.

Although it won several awards, L'Eclisse was never a commercial success and many people seem to find the film boring. It is not. Go and watch it closely and let yourself be hypnotised by Antonioni. Jason Ankeny at AllMovie : "Haunted by a sense of instability and impermanence, his work defined a cinema of possibilities; in Antonioni's world, riddles were not answered, but simply evaporated into other riddles."

Eye Film Institute in Amsterdam organises not only the exhibition Michelangelo Antonioni – Il maestro del cinema moderno but also a film retrospective on Antonioni.


Original trailer for L'eclisse/The Eclipse (1962) with the title song by Mina. Source: xx999xx999 (YouTube).


Trailer L'eclisse/The Eclipse (1962). Source: moviolamagics (YouTube).

Sources: Jason Ankeny (AllMovie), Eleanor Mannikka (AllMovie), TCM, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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