L’Eclisse: Criterion Collection

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

Many directors like Federico Fellini and Vittorio De Sica have emerge as some of the best that Italian cinema can offer. Another that happen to have his own vision using images with very little dialogue was Michelangelo Antonioni. In the early sixties he had comprised a trilogy of sorts depicting a multitude of things within an international flavor. This started with L’avventura and continued with La notte. In this third entry, he explores the tale of a woman in transition with a few men and the results of that in the modern day world of the sixties. This is L’Eclisse.

A man, Riccardo, (Francisco Rabal) and a woman, Vittoria, (Monica Vitti) move and look around in a room without much to say and without any interest in one day. The woman tells her man she’s leaving him and she moves onto another man, a stockbroker named Piero (Alain Delon) and he feels he’s with a woman that he can feel for. At the same time Vittoria doesn’t know if she’s ready. Vittoria is not torn between two lovers but moving on can have it’s own challenges.

From the start of this film, Antonioni starts his score like an exciting sixties film and then halfway through the credits the score changes to something more in a suspense film and then brings the audience into this tale of a woman who despite the company of men can’t make up her mind and is not very sure of herself. The message in this film is not very different than the way things are in present day.

It’s interesting to see the film goes through 6 straight minutes without a word of dialogue and a few sounds, gestures and expressions. Color film was common amongst that time period and Antonioni uses black and white to a great extent and his cast benefits with that film choice as there is a great deal of _expression and a sense of that time in a foreign country such as Italy.

The pressures of life, the wanting of something and never being satisfied in one part or another or in the entire picture is here and Antonioni shows that no matter how good one’s life can appear to be, there can be so much more that has a feeling all it’s own that can be alone.

Through it all, Antonioni captures the story of two people so differently than the films made now on the subject and his films will always have something none of the films today have, a visual flare in the time of despair that is all it’s own. L’Eclisse may not be the happiest of films but it holds its interest readily and continues to show the great filmmaker that Antonioni is.

Video: How does it look?

L’Eclisse has the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer retained and the results are slightly dim but the overall look of the film is extraordinary and the print used for this DVD is clear, free of much debris although in some points of the film it is evident but not for very long. The cast’s faces are captured nicely by Antonioni’s camera and their sense of _expression in glorious black and white fit the tone of the film as well giving for a very nice transfer and another well done job by Criterion.

Audio: How does it sound?

The sounds in this film are mostly for score and the sense of silence and the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track captures the dialogue nicely in all channels as well as the occasional bit of score mixed in although most audible activity comes from the center channels. Everything can be understood nicely and the score has it’s own twists and turns as the film does and it doesn’t take much and doesn’t require to kick the sound up louder than it already is. For a film of the early sixties, it retains it’s soundtrack very well. This disc also has English subtitles that can and can be turned off during the picture.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Criterion gives L’Eclisse the Special Edition treatment and it starts off on disc one with a commentary by the program director of Lincoln Center, Richard Pena and he gives a nice take on the film itself. His comments describe the film nicely and as the film rolls along holds the audiences interest greatly thanks to his insightful comments and observations of the way Antonioni uses his camera and his choices for doing so. All around a pretty solid commentary.

On disc 2, there are two documentaries focusing on Antonioni and his work on this film and other films. The first being Michelangelo Antonioni: The Eye that Changed Cinema, a 56 minute documentary from 2001 that explores the filmmaker’s work from the start to the end. It is an intriguing piece showcasing most of his films in clips and gives a nice area for this title as well.

Last on this disc and for this set is the documentary Elements of Landscape, another superb 22 minute video documentary focusing on L’Eclisse and getting the viewpoints from Italian film critic Adriano Apra and longtime Antonioni friend Carlo di Carlo and it gives a nice summing up on the making of the film from casting to the choice of title to the overall result of the film seen in present day.

With it’s one of a kind look and international way of storytelling, L’Eclisse is given sterling treatment in the very good hands of Criterion on DVD thanks to it’s short and sweet extras along with a solid transfer of the film itself that holds up well thirty three years later.

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