Michelangelo Antonioni is one of the most important film directors Italy has ever produced. In many ways he redefined cinema in the period at the start of the 1960s. L’Eclisse is the final film in a trilogy (along with L’Avventura and La notte) captures the socio-economic changes running through Europe at the time, and the anxieties stemming from the onset of modernity. L’Aventura follows the genesis of a relationship whilst La notte focusses on a different couple as they reach an emotional impasse. L’Eclisse charts the denouement and the difficulty of finding love in an increasingly materialistic world.
After a long night of talking, Vittoria (Monica Vitti) ends her relationship with Riccardo (Francisco Rabal). The young translator tries to move on with her life, but she finds no solace from her mother (Lilla Brignone) who is totally obsessed with the playing the market in the current economic boom. Her mother’s stockbroker, Piero (Alain Delon), takes a shine to Vittoria. He pursues her relentlessly, but whilst initially uneasy and evades his advances, Vittoria slowly mellows towards him but struggles to shake her nagging anxiety.
Antonioni channels his frustrations and sadness with the changing face of the world in L’Eclisse. It marks a changing point in his career, subsequently beginning to work in the English language. It’s beautifully shot and acted (and digitally restored), depicting a modern world fuelled by affluence and possessions which Vittoria struggles to marry with love. L’Eclisse is often an impenetrable and strange bird, delving much more into surrealism than his earlier work. It’s wholly magnificent as a study of money and love in a world where some adapt quicker than others to the changing face of relationships.
L’Eclisse is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Studio Canal on Monday.