Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist


I never cared about Antonioni the way I cared about Bergman, but then his films weren't made to be liked. To put it simply, Bergman seemed to be making films about us, whereas Antonioni was making films about them. His characters were bored, alienated, emotionally dead, unforgivably wealthy- and if you identified with them God help you. I've seen everything of Bergman's I can get my hands on, but I haven't seen much of Antonioni's. I've seen L'Eclisse, Blow-up and the Passenger and none of them recently. What I remember are places- the intersection we observe for ten minutes as the lovers fail to turn up and dusk falls, the haunted suburban park with the bushes rustling in the breeze, the courtyard we observe- again for the longest time and in a single shot- while Jack Nicholson is being quietly murdered behind us. In that final sequence Antonioni got the camera to pass through a barred window and back again and - while I remember someone saying something about gyroscopes I still don't know how it was done. It was the cleverest thing and absolutely riveting. Nowadays they'd use CGI and where's the fun in that?

Bergman, Antonioni- they pushed the boundaries. And they were serious about what they did. Serious is an ugly word, easy to mock, but I can't think of a better. Movies weren't just  movies for them. Movies were a way of talking about what it means to be human and- because the medium was still comparatively new- they were finding new modes of discourse and showing us things we'd never seen before. They don't make 'em like that any more- and if they don't it's because the old masters have exhausted the possibilities...

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