23 September 2013

La Notte (The Night) Masters Of Cinema Blu-Ray Review (1961)

BD/DVD Release Date:
23rd September 2013 (UK)
Eureka Video
Michelangelo Antonioni
Jeanne Moreau, Marcello Mastroianni, Monica Vitti
Buy La Notte:
(Blu-ray) / [DVD]

La Notte is a classic slice of Antonioni. It was made in his native Italy before he later came west and made films such as Blow-Up, Zabriskie Point and The Passenger. It was made at the height of the Italian art films of the early with other films such 8 ½, The Leopard and Accattone. These filmmakers were influenced by or either had their start in the Italian neo-realist movement of the 40s and early 50s. The films instead being about social issues become increasing more internalised and dealt with much more existential themes about alienation and men’s role in modern society.

The film is set during the course of one day not unlike Antonioni’s Blow-Up. La Notte is about a upper middle class married couple, the man Giovanni Pontano (Marcello Mastroianni) and his wife Lidia (Jeanne Moreau). Giovanni is a writer and his latest book La stagine (The Season) has been recently published. They film starts with them visiting a friend in hospital who is terminally ill. Lidia is so upset by the state of her friend she leaves early but Giovanni stays on. On his way out he is almost seduced by a crazy young woman but the nurses pull them apart.

During the course of the day the couple head off to the writer’s book launch party. His wife wonders off from the party but they meet up again in their old neighbourhood, they lived there when they were newly wed. They decide to go to a nightclub and later a party. Over the course of the day their marriage and communication is tested to its limits.

The film is noted for its use of landscape that is empty and barren much like the film’s main protagonists. The film’s credits are over an astonishing shot of city of the Milan from a skyscraper as the camera slowing descends. The film is deliberately made so it bores you at times just like how the married couple is bored of each other.

The film boosts 2 outstanding performances from Mastroianni and Moreau who were really at the top of their game. The character Giovanni is too involved in his narcissistic and needs to plan things. Lidia is the opposite she is too involved in the real word cause she just wonders and distracted by things in the sky and so on.

La Notte is well remembered for it’s stunning cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo who also shoot 8 ½ starring Mastroianni. Gianni shot the majority of Antonioni’s Italian films. La Notte uses lots of high contrast black and white photography especially at the party segment of the film that is simply breaktaking as is the lighting.

The film was a favourite of Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky. All these filmmakers had a similar detached view or even cold aesthetic so it’s no surprise that they found a kindred spirit in Antonioni even though Bergman did have a real love/hate thing with his films. It’s a fascinating film with gorgeous cinematography, great performances and a perfect blend of a passion, emotion but also emotional coldness.


Ian Schultz

No comments:

Post a comment