“One of the most interesting filmmakers”, Antonioni 1912-2012
A program of events to mark the centenary year of the Italian director’s birth.
One of the recurring themes in Antonioni's films is characters who suffer from ennui and whose lives are empty and purposeless aside from the gratification of pleasure or the pursuit of material wealth. Film historian David Bordwell writes that in his films, "Vacations, parties and artistic pursuits are vain efforts to conceal the characters' lack of purpose and emotion. Sexuality is reduced to casual seduction, enterprise to the pursuit of wealth at any cost."
Antonioni's films were extremely influential on subsequent art films: "More than any other director, he encouraged filmmakers to explore elliptical and open-ended narrative".( Film historian David Bordwell).
Akira Kurosawa considered Antonioni one of the most interesting filmmakers. Stanley Kubrick listed Antonioni's La Notte as one of his ten favorite films in a 1963 Poll. Andrei Tarkovsky also listed Antonioni as one of his favorite filmmakers. Miklós Jancsó considers Antonioni as his master.
Antonioni's spare style and purposeless characters, however, have not received universal acclaim. Ingmar Bergman stated in 2002 that he considered some of Antonioni's films, including Blowup and La notte, masterpieces for their detached and dreamlike quality, but found the other films boring and noted that he had never understood why Antonioni was held in such esteem. Ironically, both Bergman and Antonioni died on the same date. Orson Welles regretted the Italian director's use of the long take: "I don't like to dwell on things. It's one of the reasons I'm so bored with Antonioni - the belief that, because a shot is good, it's going to get better if you keep looking at it. He gives you a full shot of somebody walking down a road. And you think, 'Well, he's not going to carry that woman all the way up that road.' But he does. And then she leaves and you go on looking at the road after she's gone."
American actor Peter Weller, whom Antonioni directed in Beyond the Clouds, explained in a 1996 interview: "There is no director living except maybe Kurosawa, Bergman, or Antonioni that I would fall down and do anything for. I met Antonioni three years ago in Taormina at a film festival. I introduced myself and told him that I adored his movies, his contributions to film, because he was the first guy who really started making films about the reality of the vacuity between people, the difficulty in traversing this space between lovers in modern day... and he never gives you an answer, Antonioni – that's the beautiful thing.
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