Movie Information

In Brief: The final film in Michelangelo Antonioni's "alienation trilogy," L'eclisse (1962) is one of those art-house warhorses that everyone is supposed to know and revere. It's also not a lot of fun and its opacity can come perilously close to feeling like an art-film parody. There's little story — merely two people meeting and vaguely drifting into a relationship in a world where nothing seems to matter very much. Beautifully photographed but emotionally distant, it's not for everyone.
Genre: Alienation Drama
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Starring: Alain Delon, Monica Vitti, Francisco Rabal, Lilla Brignone
Rated: NR

Who but Michelangelo Antonioni would even have an “alienation trilogy?” As no one else seems to have made such a claim — or had the claim made for them — I suppose the question is purely rhetorical. Frankly, it always seemed to me that alienation was at the heart of every Antonioni movie I ever saw — a kind of existential distaste for every society he ever set a film in. In other words, I find it hard to distinguish between the trilogy and everything else I’ve seen, except that the others were in color. I don’t dislike Antonioni, I find his films interesting in small doses, but I’ve never been able to find them particularly profound. That’s as true of L’eclisse (1962) as it is of the ones that preceded and followed it. In the case of L’eclisse what we get is a woman (Monica Vitti) who leaves her fiancé (Francisco Rabal) for reasons that are never stated — it feels like galloping ennui — and heads to the city. There she meets her stock-playing mother’s (Lilla Brignone) stunningly handsome broker (Alain Delon). The two drift into a vaguely defined affair that seems marginally more important to him than to her (she wishes she loved him less or more than she does) and which goes nowhere, while their surroundings and the people that inhabit it remain unchanged. It’s certainly good to look at, but how you respond to it is wholly a matter of temperament. Its deliberate pace (that’s critic speak for slow) and the decision to leave the meaning of it all unsaid excites some cinéastes but alienates others.

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present L’eclisse Friday, June 28, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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2 thoughts on “L’eclisse

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    existential distaste for every society he ever set a film in.

    which goes nowhere, while their surroundings and the people that inhabit it remain unchanged

    Its deliberate pace (that’s critic speak for slow)

    They don’t call him Micky ‘Crowd-Pleaser’ Antonioni for nothing!

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