Antonioni, Michelangelo

   Director, critic, screenwriter. Universally acknowledged as the foremost representative of cinematic modernism in Italy, Antonioni nurtured an early passion for music and drawing but drifted into a degree in economics at the University of Bologna. He nevertheless continued to cultivate his artistic interests and took an active part in student theater while also publishing fiction and film reviews in the Ferrara daily Corriere padano. In 1939 he moved to Rome, where he became part of the editorial committee of the prestigious journal Cinema and briefly attended the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. In 1942, in between carrying out his military service, he was able to serve as an assistant on Enrico Fulchignoni's I due Foscari (The Two Foscaris, 1942) and to collaborate on the screenplay of Roberto Rossellini's Un pilota ritorna (A Pilot Returns, 1942) before spending a short period in France as an assistant to Marcel Carne on Les visiteurs du soir (The Devil's Envoys, 1942). On his return to Italy he began work on his first documentary, Gente del Po (People of the Po, begun 1943, but finished and first screened in 1947).
   Following the interruption of the war, he worked on the screenplay of Giuseppe De Santis's Caccia tragica (Tragic Hunt, 1947) and made a handful of short award-winning documentaries, among them N.U.-Nettezza Urbana (N.U., 1948), a portrait of Roman street sweepers, and L'amorosa menzogna (Loving Lie, 1949), a look at the current Italian fad for photoromances, before directing his first feature, Cronaca d'un amore (Story of a Love Affair, 1950), a noir narrative echoing some of the elements of Luchino Visconti's Ossessione (Obsession, 1943). This was followed two years later by I vinti (The Vanquished, 1952), three unconnected stories of juvenile delinquency in the cities of Rome, Paris, and London. Originally financed by a Catholic production company, the film came under strong pressure from the censors both in Italy, where the Italian episode was forced to be modified almost beyond recognition, and in France, where, on the strength of the French episode, the film was banned for over a decade. Antonioni's third feature, La signora senze camelie (The Lady without Camelias, 1953), a wry expose of the Italian film industry starring ex-Miss Italia Lucia Bose, was followed by Tentato suicidio (Attempted Suicide), an episode for Cesare Zavattini'sportmanteau film L'amore in citta (Love in the City, 1953). Then came Le amiche (The Girlfriends, 1955), a loose adaptation of a novel by Cesare Pavese that proved to be Antonioni's first real critical success, winning the Silver Lion at the Venice Festival and two Nastri d'argento.
   In spite of the recognizable presence of some of the hallmarks of Antonioni's mature style in these earlier films, it is generally agreed that Il grido (The Cry, 1957) marks the beginning of a new stage in Antonioni's filmmaking, a phase characterized by more intense formal and stylistic experimentation and a strong, and almost exclusive, focus on the themes of social disconnectedness and existential alienation. This phase comes to full maturity with the three films usually grouped as his "trilogy of alienation": L'avventura (The Adventure, 1960), La notte (The Night, 1961), and L'eclisse (The Eclipse, 1962). Many would also include his first film in color, Il deserto rosso (Red Desert, 1964), as part of a tetralogy in which Antonioni succeeded in forging a new cinematic language with which to communicate the profound social and psychological dislocations provoked by modernity.
   Antonioni's international stature, now firmly established, was reconfirmed with Blowup (Blow-Up, 1966). Set in the swinging London of the 1960s and made entirely in English, the film follows the unsuccessful attempts of a British fashion photographer to utilize all the technical resources of photography to uncover the truth of what appears to be a murder in a city park. The film won overwhelming international acclaim, being nominated for a Golden Globe, three BAFTA, and two Academy Awards, and winning the Palme d'or at Cannes. Ironically, given that it was made completely in English with a British crew, it also received the Nastro d'argento in Italy for Best Foreign Film. Zabriskie Point (1970), also made completely in English and filmed in the United States, received a more qualified critical response and, in spite of its countercultural themes, proved to be a commercial flop, especially in the United States, where it received wide public criticism for what was seen as its anti-Americanism. Antonioni then returned to his roots in documentary filmmaking with Chung-Kuo Cina (China, made in 1972 but first shown on Italian television in 1973) before making what many regard as one of the finest of his later films, Professione reporter (The Passenger, 1975). Starring Jack Nicholson in the story of a misguided attempt to assume a new identity, The Passenger was nominated for the Golden Palm and was awarded the Nastro d'argento for both direction and cinematography.
   Unable to get a number of other film projects financed, Antonioni then withdrew from the cinema for several years to indulge his earlier passions of painting and writing before returning in 1979 to make Il mistero di Oberwald (The OberwaldMystery, 1980). Adapted from a play by Jean Cocteau and shot completely on video and then converted to film, Oberwald was a courageous experiment by a director who had been praised for his spirit of experimentation. However, when first screened at Venice in 1980 it received a very tepid response, being regarded as little more than a minor exercise in an inferior format. Two years later, Identificazione d'una donna (Identification of a Woman, 1982) was much more warmly received both at home and abroad, especially in France, where it was widely hailed as a return to form by the old master. Nevertheless, with a number of projects stalled due to lack of funding, Antonioni returned once more to writing and painting. He published Quel bowling sul Tevere (That Bowling Alley on the Tiber), a collection of short stories with Einaudi, and mounted a large exhibition of his paintings in Venice in 1983 before also directing Fotoromanza (1984), a four-minute music video for Italian singer Gianna Nannini.
   A year later, with several projects still on hold, Antonioni suffered a major stroke that left him severely paralyzed and unable to speak. While this effectively appeared to end his filmmaking career, in 1995, with the help and support of German director Wim Wenders, he was able to adapt several of his own stories from That Bowling Alley on the Tiber to make Al di la delle nuvole (Beyond the Clouds, 1995). While the film itself received a mixed critical response, later in the same year his enormous contribution to world cinema was recognized with an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Historical dictionary of Italian cinema. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Antonioni, Michelangelo — born Sept. 29, 1912, Ferrara, Italy Italian film director and producer. He wrote film reviews and studied filmmaking before directing his short film The People of the Po Valley (1947). His first major film, The Girl Friends (1955), was followed… …   Universalium

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  • Antonioni, Michelangelo — (1912– )    Postwar Italy’s most intellectually challenging film director, Michelangelo Antonioni was born in Ferrara. His career in the cinema began in the 1940s, when he was an editor of Cinema, the film magazine directed by Benito Mussolini’s… …   Historical Dictionary of modern Italy

  • Antonioni, Michelangelo — (1912 2007)    Director, critic, screenwriter. Universally acknowledged as the foremost representative of cinematic modernism in Italy, Antonioni nurtured an early passion for music and drawing but drifted into a degree in economics at the… …   Guide to cinema

  • Antonioni, Michelangelo — ► (n. 1912) Director cinematográfico italiano. Supo expresar los sentimientos y angustias contemporáneos. Películas: Las amigas (1955), La aventura (1959). En E.U.A. filmó Zabriskie Point (1970). Realizó un excelente informe sobre la China… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Antonioni,Michelangelo — An·to·ni·on·i (ăn tō nē ōʹnē), Michelangelo. Born 1912. Italian filmmaker whose works, notably L Avventura (1959), are rich character studies. * * * …   Universalium

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  • Antonioni — Antonioni, Michelangelo …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Michelangelo Antonioni — Born September 29, 1912(1912 09 29) Ferrara, Italy Died …   Wikipedia

  • Antonioni — Michelangelo Antonioni Michelangelo Antonioni (* 29. September 1912 in Ferrara, Italien; † 30. Juli 2007 in Rom[1]) war ein italienischer Filmregisseur, Autor und Maler …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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