Overshadowed: On The 1962 Film, “Eclipse”

Style and theme are everything in the exquisitely made Italian film Eclipse, or L’Eclisse (1962), one of the four or five major pictures of Michelangelo Antonioni.

This is the one about Vittoria (Monica Vitti) and Piero (Alain Delon) in the modern age.  Here, reinforced by the visual black-white contrasts, indifference and insensitivity eclipse love, worry eclipses passion, aimlessness eclipses belief.  For all this, however, Antonioni makes clear that ours is a fascinating world, not only because of nature but also because of what human beings have wrought.  Airplanes, light poles along a street, the stock exchange, a rural café—all are presented as having the power to captivate.

Eclipse is less sad than L’Avventura and La Notte, even though, granted, the world of the film is menacing.  The closing sequence is famous, and according to Stanley Kauffmann, it has been seen as Antonioni’s “statement that man must come to terms with his new environment before he can love.”  This is probably as good an interpretation as any, if interpretation is needed.  Whether or not such a sentiment about love is true, though, we are led to observe that, at the film’s end, main character Vittoria certainly seems accepting of her life—obviously a good thing.

(In Italian with English subtitles)

 

Cover of "L'Eclisse - Criterion Collectio...
Cover of L’Eclisse – Criterion Collection

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