Blind Spot 04: La Notte, 1961

La Notte (1961) dir. Michelangelo Antonioni

this post is part of the blind spot series

La Notte, 1961

directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
starring Jeanne Moreau, Marcello Mastroianni and Monica Vitti

In Antonioni’s La Notte (1961) we follow a married couple – Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni) and Lidia (Jeanne Moreau) – around for a day. Their relationship is on the verge of collapsing, so expect the depressing kind of passion, here. This is my first ever movie from the Italian director, and while I can see in it certain elements from other European films of the 60s (think Nouvelle Vague, Fellini), there’s a particular mix of bleakness and passion to it that is different and intoxicating.

As is often the case with this kind of movie, when you’re not in the mood, scenes and dialogue can feel erratic in significance – not to mention hard to follow. This being a Blind Spot I couldn’t wait around for motivation, but La Notte‘s lushness pulled me right in with little effort.

I especially loved the use of a deep, rich black, often used in contrasting light. As a result, the night scenes were particularly beautiful, and the dark suits and little black dresses looked effortlessly elegant. There was also oftentimes a cleanliness and elegance to the shot’s composition that had me wanting to do a Film Aesthetics post on La Notte as soon as possible. Indeed, settings and shots feel symbolic, and can tell us a lot about a scene, here.

I no longer have inspirations, only recollections.
— Giovanni Pontano, La Notte (1961)

It’s at the party that the movie came alive for me, and I know for a fact that is due to Monica Vitti. Out of the three main actors, Mastroianni was the only one I’ve seen work before (namely , La Dolce Vita and Ieri, Oggi, Domani), and while Moreau was truly splendid, Vitti had a mesmerising onscreen presence. She plays Valentina, a socialite Giovanni meets at the party and with whom he spends most of the night.

As I said, this is my first film from Michelangelo Antonioni, and seeing as how La Notte is the second film in a kind of trilogy on modern love, I can’t wait to see the other two, L’Avventura and L’Eclisse. After that I’ll hopefully have a better grasp on his themes, such as nostalgia, the feminine perspective, life and more. Overall, it was absolutely stunning – and if you let yourself get immersed in its story and characters, you’ll have plenty to think about.

Have you seen La Notte? How was your own Blind Spot this month?
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7 Comments

  1. May 3, 2018 / 12:01 AM

    La Notte was the film of Antonioni’s trilogy of alienation that I wanted to see more than ever as I finally got to see it a few years ago. It’s a devastating film as is its predecessor L’Avventura and the final film of that trilogy in L’Eclisse. All three films are just mesmerizing in the way it presents the modern world as scary and how disconnected people are with their emotions. They’re not easy films to watch but I was able to relate to them given my own sense of loneliness towards the world in general which is probably why I like a lot of Antonioni’s work based on what I’ve seen from him so far.

    • May 10, 2018 / 12:41 PM

      Yes I can emphasise of that – definitely one of the reasons why I liked La Notte so much, too. I must watch the other two movies, then.

  2. May 3, 2018 / 12:56 PM

    I haven’t seen this film, or anything else by the director. I think I need to get more into the classic foreign films outside of Bergman for my next Blind Spot.

    • May 10, 2018 / 12:42 PM

      It was my first from Antonioni, so I know the feeling! Definitely try to incorporate more classic foreign movies next time, I’d recommend this one for sure

  3. May 5, 2018 / 1:16 PM

    I haven’t seen this but that’s not surprising.. I also haven’t heard about this film before, which also, not that surprising. 😀

    The scene you chose for the main image does seem stunning though so I look forward for your Film Aesthetics post about this film! If I myself am too afraid to venture into old classics and black and white movies, then at least I’m able to appreciate their visuals through someone else’s eyes. 🙂

    • May 10, 2018 / 12:43 PM

      Hehe, yes I’ll keep it on the list! It was really soooo gorgeous 😍

  4. joel
    May 11, 2018 / 12:20 AM

    I just watched this for the first time about 6 weeks ago and agree it is very much something that you have to be in the mood for or it won’t work. Fortunately I was and enjoyed it. You use the word elegant a couple of times in your review and that’s a very apt work to describe the film. I can’t say I was crazy about the ending but until then I was very involved in the story. Vitti was very good but best in show for me was Jeanne Moreau, I guess it boils down to perception.

    I have seen several other of the director’s films and so far this is the one I’ve liked best.

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