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L’Avventura

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A woman goes missing while sailing in the Mediterranean. During the quest, her lover and her closest friend develop feelings for one other.

Michelangelo Antonioni directed the 1960 Italian drama film L’Avventura (English: “The Adventure”). The film is based on a narrative written by Antonioni and co-written by Elio Bartolini and Tonino Guerra, and it is about the disappearance of a young lady (Lea Massari) on a boating trip in the Mediterranean, and the ensuing hunt for her by her lover (Gabriele Ferzetti) and her closest friend (Monica Vitti). Under tough financial and physical conditions, it was shot on location in Rome, the Aeolian Islands, and Sicily in 1959. The film is notable for its unconventional pace, which prioritizes visual composition, atmosphere, and character development over typical narrative progression.

L’Avventura was nominated for numerous awards and was awarded the Jury Prize at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. The film made Monica Vitti an international star. According to an Antonioni obituary, the film “systematically subverted the filmic codes, practices, and structures in currency at its time.” L’Avventura is the first film of a trilogy by Antonioni, followed by La Notte (1961) and L’Eclisse (1962). It has appeared on Sight & Sound’s list of the critics’ top ten greatest films ever made three times in a row: It was voted second in 1962, fifth in 1972, and seventh in 1982. In 2010, it was ranked #40 in Empire magazine’s “The 100 Best Films of World Cinema.” The film would go on to influence several arthouse directors, including Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Jia Zhangke, and Hirokazu Kore-eda.

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