How is it possible that I can keep falling more in love with this film each time I watch it? I checked out the HD version Criterion added to their Hulu channel and I have to say that it looks pretty sharp, I hope this is a sign it’s coming to Blu-Ray soon. There are a couple themes in this film that become stronger with each viewing.
Antonioni’s love for Monica Vitti
I love how relationships play out in the cinema, it’s something that you just can’t say explain but it always reveals itself. There’s an undefinable quality that comes out when the director is in love with their actor, their muse. L’eclisse is the only film the two did together where I feel that Vitti is at her most natural. While she’s great in the other films, she’s definitely playing characters, there’s more of an angle involved. Here she is much more in the moment and I personally think it’s her most intimate role she ever did.
It’s amazing how many shots begin and end without the characters in the frame. And I’m not talking about the beginning and endings of a scene I’m talking about every shot within the scene. I’ve seen this film dozens of times and my mind still boggles trying to figure out all the planning that goes into a couple of the scenes here. Antonioni uses this technique so effectively in L’eclisse. A lot of his other films, the film is in the characters head: L’Avventura, La notte, Red Desert, etc. all of those pretty treat the characters problems like the world revolves around them. In L’eclisse Antonioni is constantly showing how trivial the characters love life is to society.
It’s something that no one EVER talks about in a movie, but I don’t see how it can be ignored in this film. It becomes more and more interesting how he uses blocking to not only compose a shot, but to replace lines of dialogue. The moments when the characters are acting so normal and then all of the sudden freeze up and communicate with each other just based on how and where they stand. It’s such a strange and beautiful technique that I don’t know if you could get away with today, (this is also known as part of the “Antonioni Trap” that directors get in sometimes). It’s sad fact that we value the technique side of art way more than we do the poetic side. We’ve lost a lot of our imagination and and things are much too literal. L’eclisse is my favorite Antonioni film because I feel he was able to fuse technique, poetry, and politics, and autobiography, and do it with a degree of elegance that looks almost effortless.