L’Avventura: Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

November 11, 2014 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

A yacht trip to a volcanic island has turned into a search for a missing person, who disappeared without a trace. The lost person is Anna (Lea Massari) and while the search is continued, no one has a clue where she could be, not a single idea. Anna was out on a sea voyage with her boyfriend Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) and her best friend Claudia (Monica Vitti), with the destination being the island on which they’re now located. The three come from the upper class of Italy’s social stratus and while they live comfortable lives, there is no true adventure and in truth, little action in the least. As the group was ready to leave the island, Anna came up missing and that’s where we are now, as Claudia and Sandro attempt to track her down. As the searches pushes on, the two begin to grow closer and soon enough, real sparks can be found between them. But what will become of this newly realized romance and of course, where is Anna while all this is happening and will she ever be found?

I found this to be an excellent picture, but I can see why some would dislike it, as it strays from the normal path, to be sure. I have begun to like it more with each new viewing, as it seems to grow on me and also, I am able to take in more subtle notions, which add to the experience. This is a mystery that never turns into a thriller or even really offers a solution to most issues and as such, I doubt casual film fans will find much to like here. L’Avventura moves at a very slow pace and has little in terms of kinetic motion, but I don’t think it ever grinds to halt, not even close. I know the pace will throw some off from the film, but if you have a decent attention span, I think you’ll be glad you took the time to see this film and in truth, you might want to watch it again and see if you can glean any more insight from within it. I think director Michelangelo Antonioni created a most rewarding film with L’Avventura and perhaps with this excellent treatment from The Criterion Collection, it can find a wider audience, which it more than deserves. I give this film a very high recommendation and while first timers should rent, fans will want to own this double disc edition, to be sure.

With L’Avventura, director Michelangelo Antonioni challenges his audience in many ways, from open mindedness to patience to beyond. But is this approach overdone and Antonioni expecting too much? I don’t think so and since he also delivers lush visuals and some terrific writing, the slow pace never becomes too much handle. It comes close at times and seems a little long at over one-hundred and forty minutes, but I think it all levels out in the end. Of course, you have to be able to remain focused in that time and soak it all in, so if you have a short attention span or need action to like a picture, then L’Avventura is not one you’ll want to explore. An excellent example of film as art, L’Avventura is one of Antonioni’s finest works and I think still stands up very well, impressive indeed. Other films directed by Antonioni include La Notte, Red Desert, Sign of the Gladiator, Blowup, Beyond the Clouds, and The Oberwald Mystery.

Video: How does it look?

L’Avventura has been given a brand new 4K restoration by Criterion and it adds to what was already a fine-looking transfer. I will say that there’s no substitute for owning a movie on Blu-ray an even despite how good the image looked on the DVD – this one is superior in every way. The black & white image looks well balanced and never murky or overly bright, a perfect medium of contrast but this beautiful black and white image has certainly never looked better.  Kudos to Criterion for continuing to give these classic (and contemporary) films life with these amazing transfers.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio hasn’t been neglected either, as the included mono option is cleaner than expected. Even so, this film doesn’t need bells & whistles to succeed in the audio department and in truth, I found this track to be more than sufficient. A couple small errors surface, but on the whole, the track was free from distortion and hiss, as well as other age related issues. The dialogue is presented in the original Italian language and sounds good, no real complaints to report on that end. This disc also includes new English subtitles with a new translation, for those that want and/or need it.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The previous two-disc release from Criterion pretty much covered all of the bases, but with this Blu-ray release, the only real addition is that of the new 4K transfer. There is also new cover art if that matters much.

  • Audio Commentary – Film historian Gene Youngblood’s comments might be a little dull for some folks, but I found them to be very insightful. He’s obviously passionate about the film and certainly knows what he’s talking about. A good listen.
  • Olivier Assayas on L’avventura – An analysis of the film in three parts.
  • Antonioni: Documents and Testimonials – An almost hour long documentary on the filmmaker. This is in depth look at the man and his pictures and as such, fans will not want to miss it.
  • Writings by director Michelangelo Antonioni – Read by none other than Jack Nicholson himself, we get some personal recollections of the Director.
  • New Subtitle Translations – Not that it matters too much, but people do get upset when the words on the screen aren’t exactly what’s going on in spoken dialogue.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Illustrated Booklet – As always, there’s an illustrated booklet with an essay by critic Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Antonioni’s statements about the film after its 1960 Cannes Film Festival premiere, and an open letter distributed at the festival.

Disc Scores