The plan, yesterday, was to watch L'Eclisse a second time, this time with the commentary of a film scholar. I shut the commentary off after less than 4 minutes. Not the film though.

It's strange, because Antonioni's films almost beg to be analysed. You'd think watching one of his films side-by-side with an analysis would be illuminating, but to me it was just grating. I think it's because his films are so subjective, open to interpretation, and that nobody sees it the same way. Reading an analysis afterwards can make you realise there's another way of looking at the film, but trying to do both at the same time ruins the film. So I shut the commentary off, shut off even the subtitles - having seen the movie two days ago, my rudimentary understanding of Italian was enough to follow the film - and submerged myself once more.

My father needn't worry: his 40 bucks were not wasted, I'm sure I'll watch this movie many more times. I will admit, however, to loving the parts more than I love the whole. The unevenness of the film, going back and forth between the meditative, leaves-rustling pace of Vittoria's world and the manic energy of both Alain Delon's Piero and the stock market where he works. L'Eclisse doesn't have a central mystery to propel it forward like The Passenger and Blowup, and though those mysteries were never resolved, there is some forward momentum missing here.
But oh, there are so many beautiful shots here, utilizing shadows and chiaroscuro lighting, and there are so many scenes and sequences to fall in love with. The minute of silence on the stock market. The tour through Kenya with the African dance, and the nightly search for the dog that follows it, so perfectly captures the mood of late aimless nights it's almost scary. The scene where Monica Vitti follows a man who's just lost 50 million (though admittedly, that's in lire) and sees what he draws. The car getting tackled out of the water. The kiss through the glass. And, of course, the last sequence, where Antonioni manages to manipulate our anxiousness about seeing the main characters so well.He often films his characters, especially Monica Vitti, from the back here, not so much observing them as observing the world with them. Vitti often walks out of a shot backwards, and each time I would not have been surprised if she'd just disappeared there and then, to let the camera observe the world for itself. My crush on Alain Delon, as you can imagine, was only magnified by this film, but the true revelation is Monica Vitti. I'm not sure she'd work in a film by any other director, but she fits perfectly into the world he created here, and the look on her face when she flies above Verona is a wonder.

This is an art film, no doubt about it, but a "serious" film? Only if you don't allow yourself to see all the playfulness exhibited here. And if any of my friends want to watch it, I'll gladly watch it with them.

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