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L’Avventura: Criterion Collection (1960) - Blu-ray Review

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L'Avventura: Criterion Collection (1960) - Blu-ray Review

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5 stars

Classic films are often ahead of their times. L’Avventura is living proof of that statement because the mysteries in Michelangelo Antonioni’s masterwork are still being discussed and unveiled. The language of the film is still being decoded. Reviled, loathed, and heavily criticized upon its first release, L’Aventura is an iconic film that challenged 1960s cinema with a gripping narrative whose main plot – like Anna (Lea Massari), a diplomat’s daughter, who vanishes on an island tour – absolutely disappears.

Michelangelo Antonioni invented a new film grammar with this film. A film that lives and breathes on its own terms, L’avventura concerns the enigmatic disappearance of a young woman during a yachting trip off the coast of Sicily, and the search taken up by her disaffected lover (Gabriele Ferzetti) and best friend (Monica Vitti, in her breakout role). There is no major event the film is harnessed around. There are only rich Italians and equally rich locations, captured on black-and-white 35mm by famed cinematographer Aldo Scavarda.

The film was famously booed at its Cannes Film Festival premiere. It later – during a second screening – won the Jury Prize. There are long passages where, if you are not paying attention, it appears that nothing is happening. Exactly the opposite. The film and its many frames are loaded with occurrences and intrigue as its cast of characters fail, time and time again, to effectively communicate their passions with each other. It is truly an adventure but a certain amount of patience and knowledge is required.

L’Avventura is not the random flick to put into your blu-ray player when you are jonesing for a hit. While the new 4K digital restoration – loaded with uncompressed monaural sound - is certainly revelatory, Antonioni’s film is art cinema at its finest. This is often the film critics of European cinema make fun of. It’s an easy target, I suppose. The rich characters of L’Avventura, while never coming across as caricatures, do and say unexpected things at times that seem unnatural. Anyone with any foothold in reality; however, will certainly recognize the truth hidden in their motives and, more than likely, see their own friends or even themselves.

There is a lot of truth hidden inside L’Avventura. Antonioni’s controversial international sensation is a gorgeously shot tale of modern ennui and spiritual isolation. It still feels fresh; still feels vibrant. This was and, to a degree, still is new territory for cinema. Antonioni continues to offer us the chance with L’Avventura to be consciously critical of our own actions. That, my friends, will never get old. The film is so richly dense and influential that no amount of discussion ever truly feels sufficient. In short, this is something you should own.

L'Avventura: Criterion Collection (1960) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime:
184 mins
Director
: Michelangelo Antonioni
writer:
Michelangelo Antonioni
Cast:
Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti, Lea Massari
Genre
: Drama | Mystery | Classic
Tagline:
A new adventure in filmmaking...
Memorable Movie Quote: "Giulia is like Oscar Wilde. Give her all the luxuries and she will manage without the little necessities."
Distributor:
Janus Films
Official Site:
Release Date:
March 4, 1961
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 25, 2014
Synopsis: A woman disappears during a Mediterranean boating trip. But during the search, her lover and her best friend become attracted to each other.

L'Avventura: Criterion Collection (1960) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 25, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
Italian: LPCM Mono
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: Locked to region A

“It looks like oil!” exclaims a character as their yacht glides across the eerily still Mediterranean surface. And they’re right. Almost preternaturally inert, the sea looks inky and surreal as they traverse atop it, with only small, disruptive bubbles of air escaping the engulfing dark along the waves’ crests. The 1080p image quality here is largely flawless, as is the case with the majority of this Criterion 4K transfer. Fine object detail – you can actually discern the individual droplets of water on Vitti’s shoulders following her brief bout in the sea – and landscapes alike look adroitly rendered, and the image is reliably stable. Shots involving the aphotic, depthless sea and the threateningly infertile islands are most impressive in terms of shear compositional beauty, but so, too, are the textures of sun-kissed skins and fine fabrics. There are some issues with print damage, but almost exclusively to the film’s first hour and always near the frame’s edge. The monaural soundtrack, as expected, is very stable, offering supportive aural accompaniment to Antonioni’s rightly heralded visuals.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Featuring film historian Gene Youngblood, L’Avventura’s feature-length commentary is so loaded with important information about the film that it makes it a necessary companion to the actual film. This is not to be missed.

Special Features:

Supplemental material, though predominantly imported from the 2001 Criterion DVD, does well in offering variegated perspectives and interpretations to Antonioni’s work from colleagues, contemporaries, and collaborators, and even allows for the director himself to proffer insights (Spoiler alert: He’s smarter than us all). We have a three part discussion of the film, a fifty-eight-minute documentary by Gianfranco Mingozzi from 1966, writings by director Michelangelo Antonioni, read by actor Jack Nicholson, plus Nicholson’s personal recollections of the director, the film’s trailer, 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 to round out the release.

  • Olivier Assayas on L'Avventura (27 min)
  • L'Avventura: A Moral Adventure (10 min)
  • Reflections on the Film Actor (7 min)
  • Working with Antonioni (6 min)
  • Antonioni: Documents and Testimonials (58 min)
  • Trailer

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