L’Avventura is a 1960 Italian film by Michelangelo Antonioni starring Monica Vitti and Gabriele Ferzetti. The film captures a love affair between Claudia and Sandro after the disappearance of Anna, Sandro’s previous girlfriend, who goes missing while vacationing on a yacht.

The film is crafted in a seemingly generic three-act story and in many cases could largely be a forgettable film. Claudia and Anna embark on vacation with Sandro and some other family friends and Anna goes missing after an argument with Sandro, which ends the first act. Claudia and Sandro individually follow a vague trail to find their missing loved one, during which their relation warms from frigid to a frenetic mess of emotion.

I cannot, with any level of honesty, tell you why L’Avventura deserves to be on this list. Now I will try and speculate as to why it may deserve to be here. If nothing else, strip away everything and you will be looking at one of the most beautiful films ever committed to celluloid, period. Aldo Scavarda’s cinematography is breathtaking, especially in a high-definition resolution. There are few moments in which a viewer could pause playback and not be left with a museum-quality image. This alone will guarantee several additional screenings for me personally.

There is something about Monica Vitti’s performance that I struggle to be able to quantify. Is it wooden, or a perfect incarnation of a woman in 1950s Italy? It is magnetic, however you try and define her presence. When I was looking into what makes L’Avventura important I saw several places talking about how it is a film that encapsulates a certain level of eroticism that is by no means explicit but not quite quaint. The film shows a fully-realized sexual woman who holds a level of power and control over her male counterpart in the film. If this is why L’Avventura matters, then it may be one of the most important films ever made.

One thing is clear, though: I could probably spend a year researching and reviewing this film and perhaps still not be able to put my finger on why it’s been included on this list. Perhaps that is the reason why: it is too gorgeous to want to let go. The final scene is something to behold, the culmination of the chase ramping your emotions to the unexpected conclusion.

BFI Top 50: L’avventura

Wikipedia: L’avventura

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