La Notte, 1961
directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
starring Jeanne Moreau, Marcello Mastroianni and Monica Vitti
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.
— 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 8½, 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.