Most films have a very precise structure. There is a beginning, middle and an end. The first portion sets out to introduce the audience to the main character(s). The main section is where the story is contained and is normally a journey of some kind, whether that be emotional or physical. The finale is a culmination of the events which proceeded it. In 1960 Michelangelo Antonioni made L’avventura which through all convention out the window.

Affluent, idle and young, best friends Anna (Lea Massari) and Claudia (Monica Vitti) meet up with Anna’s boyfriend Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) and journey to the coast. There they join two wealthy couples and sail down to southern Italy. Prompted by Anna, the group stop at a remote island. After Anna and Sandro have a fight she vanishes without a trace, leaving the party to try and discover what happened to her.

In the first chapter in Antionioni’s loose trilogy about emotional malady he rips up the rulebook. The film opens with the focus on Anna and then suddenly she’s gone. The rest of L’avventura focuses on the relationship between Claudia and Sandro as they ostensibly continue their search. Ultimately it’s a masterstoke of misdirection, a murder mystery without a body and a masterpiece of Italian cinema. The devil is in the detail and the intrigue ebbs into malaise without ever wholly departing the stage.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary featuring film historian Gene Youngblood
  • Olivier Assayas on “L’avventura,” an analysis of the film in three parts
  • Antonioni: Documents and Testimonials, a fifty-eight-minute documentary by Gianfranco Mingozzi from 1966
  • Writings by director Michelangelo Antonioni, read by actor Jack Nicholson, plus Nicholson’s personal recollections of the director
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Antonioni’s statements about the film after its 1960 Cannes Film Festival premiere, and an open letter distributed at the festival

L’avventura (Criterion Collection) is released on Blu-ray by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on Monday.