Michelangelo Antonioni

(b. 1912) Italian film director

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(1912– )

Italian film director. His films concentrate upon the study of character and, through the use of complex metaphoric plots and masterful camera-work, illuminate such themes as suicide and alienation.

Antonioni, who was born in Ferrara and studied economics and commerce at Bologna University, came to films after working in a bank. He wrote film critiques for newspapers and contributed to the journal Cinema before briefly attending the Centro Sperimentale, the famous film school in Rome. In 1942 he worked with Rossellini and Carné; and made his debut as a director in the documentary Gente del Po (The People of the Po Valley) in 1943. His first feature film, Cronaca di un amore (1950; Story of a Love Affair) was hardly noticed. However, his reputation grew with ‘Tentato Suicidio’ (his contribution to the episodic Amore in città (1953; Love in the City) and Le amiche (1955; The Girl Friends), which won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival. International acclaim came with the prize-winning L'avventura (1960), starring Monica Vitti (1931– ). This, together with his two other prize-winning films, La notte (1961) and L'eclisse (1962), are now regarded as constituting a trilogy. In 1964 he made his first colour film, Il deserto rosso (1964; The Red Desert). His subsequent, mainly English-language, films have included Blow-Up (1967), an enigmatic thriller set in ‘swinging’ London, Zabriskie Point (1970), The Passenger (1975), The Oberwald Mystery (1981), and Identification of a Woman (1982). After suffering a severe stroke in the mid-1980s he made no full-length films until 1995, when he directed Beyond the Clouds, despite being virtually unable to speak. That same year he was awarded a special Academy Award for his lifetime achievement.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Literature.

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