L'Eclisse (The Eclipse)
Time Out says
A classic of European cinema returns to the big screen, steeped in postmodern angst and loveless existential strife
Michaelangelo Antonioni’s ennui-soaked 1962 satire of modern life announces its intentions over the opening credits, as a perky Italian pop song is muscled aside to make way for a series of doom-laden orchestral crashes. ‘Abandon pleasure’, seems to be the message. Don’t expect to leave this particular trip to the movies thinking that western life is anything but a hollow charade.
‘L’Eclisse’ is the poetic story of a beautiful but bored young woman (Monica Vitti) who deserts her dull lover and embarks upon a tentative affair with dashing but sociopathically materialistic stockbroker Alain Delon. Their courtship offers moments of happiness – they take great joy in mocking other, less self-aware couples – but as Vitti gazes wistfully into the uncertain future and Delon lusts after money and possessions, you just know it’s not going to work out.
As with all of Antonioni’s work, ‘L’Eclisse’ has a level of visual precision that works – intentionally – to both dazzle and alienate the viewer. In its time, the film must have seemed strikingly different, particularly the tragically lovely final montage sequence. To modern eyes the satire will seem a little blunt – in this post-Patrick Bateman age we’re no longer so titillated by the emotional emptiness of the wealthy, and the noisy, theatrical stock market sequences seem to go on forever – but the film retains a bleak and dreamlike tone that you won’t find anywhere else.