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Customer Review

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Passer-By, 31 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: L'Eclisse [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
L'Eclisse concerns a woman, Vittoria, Played by Monica Vitti, drifting through her life and love affairs in a suburban setting. What is principally portrayed is not so much her involement with other people but the debilitating intrusion of the world itself.
We mainly observe Vittoria's rather disengaged existence in two settings: the landscape and the stock exchange where she goes to visit her mother who is so preoccupied with making money that she has little time for her daughter. There is a point in the profiteering melee when an announcement is made of the death of a well known business man and a moment's silence is held. During the interlude, Piero, played by Alain Delon, with whom Vittoria begins a liason, whispers to her how much money is being lost. As soon as the period is over the mayhem of buying and selling erupts again and the tribute is forgotten.
The analogy with the outside environment is a vivid conrast. The invasiveness comes in quietude with the occasional passer-by in the street oblivious to Vittoria and apparently to everthing else. In a memorable scene at the lovers' corner meeting place Vittoria walks away from Piero and then thinks she hears footsteps behind. Believing that he is following she stops and turns around but there is no-one there.
Eventually we have a brief portrait of Vittoria in the street before she moves out of shot leaving only the trees in the background. It is the last time we see her. The camera returns to the meeting place but the lovers do not. Again there are passers-by who, like Vittoria, move out of shot and are gone. Finally, as dusk arrives, only the place is left.
The film belongs to the art cinema of the sixties which was as much considered at the time as anything else. Now special effects and fantasy seem to have won the day. How, then, does L'Eclisse stand up as a work of art?
There is a moment in Piero's flat where Vitti walks past a sculptured head. As she draws level with it she reaches out and pats its neck. It is a conscious gesture that comes accross as an attempt to establish an affinity with the sculpture, maybe even with some national artistic heritage. There is good work in the film particularly in the handling of the stock exchange crowd scenes, in the spirit of place at the close and in many compositions but some of these seem to be there to impress. We may judge that a film is a work of art but we don't need to be dragged by our left ears to making that decision.
I still like the film but rather less than I did and want to. Perhaps all of Antonioni's work belongs to a time of the New Wave, a time that is past.
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