The premiere screening of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’avventura in 1960 was one of the most infamously divisive in Cannes Film Festival history. While Antonioni’s opaque characterizations and languorous pacing retain their ability to befuddle uninitiated viewers, these qualities also marked the film early on as a path-breaking work of modern European cinema. In the latest installment of Observations on Film Art, a Criterion Channel program in which professors David Bordwell, Kristin Thompson, and Jeff Smith examine formal elements of the medium through the work of great auteurs, Bordwell analyzes the elusive style that would become a trademark of the director’s career. Below, watch an excerpt from the episode, in which Bordwell explores the film’s meticulous visual compositions and the way Antonioni withholds narrative information that moviegoers are accustomed to receiving.
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Now playing on the Criterion Channel, Franco Rosso’s underappreciated drama Babylon is one of the most essential portraits of the immigrant experience in British film history.
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The director of the Palme d’Or–winning short film All These Creatures, which is now available to stream on the Criterion Channel, discusses the challenges of depicting mental illness through the eyes of a child.
The Extravagant Passions of Italian Maestro Raffaello Matarazzo
Italian cinema of the 1940s and ’50s may be most associated with the legacy of neorealism, but the tearjerking melodramas of this critically underappreciated director dominated at the box office.