There are moments that give grace to even grandiose places. The moment when I watch people of limited diversity (almost none) climb and descend terraced patios – lounge in Adirondack chairs (of course green) sipping cocktails. The sunset strollers made graceful by ascending and descending steps lined with maple saplings quivering in gentle lake breeze.
The turning leaves flutter reminiscent of Antonioni’s films.
Leaves fluttering in expectant apprehension of some mystical energy is Antonioni’s signature. If there is a tree, a copse of trees, shrubbery, the leaves will be dancing captivated, set in motion, with an irresistible power like breath inhaled and exhaled: blood forced into one ventricle and out the other.
This is life. This is living, banal, grotesque unavoidable mortality, the existential and undeniable constant nothing waiting to be dropped into a peaceful swoon.
Antonioni’s subtlety tragic narratives are often filmed outdoors. They are seen as if through lace curtains woven of inescapable sticky fibers. Both characters and viewers are caught in the director’s dramatic thread, puppets sharing a singular fate. The leaves vibrate like like notes from creator to creation oblivious of each other, but each dependent on the other for existence, validity and hope a trapped shriveled morsel will ooze tart drops of congealed adrenaline in a somewhat macabre transfusion of re-creation expiration and resurrection.
Antonioni’s restless leaves cast mundane plots and characters as meager embellishments in doomed attraction? There is a place where contentment resides, but what keeps this and it apart? Is reconciliation mediated by greed, hunger, simulation, facsimile? Even to sit in Adirondack chairs (of course green) on a terraced patio is a sign of privilege informed by film and painting and art-ifice.
Monica Vitti, who embodies the mystic breath causing the leaves to quiver as if a seismic shift shook the trees at their roots. Vitti is the complexity and weight in Antonioni’s filmic linear narratives. Vitti is the context within context in Antonioni’s social and cultural commentary. Regardless of the character’s name it is Vitti. Regardless of location it is Vitti. She is Antonioni’s narrator navigating his minimal modernist representation of postwar Italy—of malaise, confusion and transition. Vitti representations of Antonioni’s woman balancing at the edge of morality and desire. Her girlish features and voluptuous mouth lay bare the feminine transitional struggle from object to subject. Vitti combines sexuality and strength.
Film has the benefit of sexy cinematography – texts rely on the reader’s seeing the page. A written narrative is for both reader and writer interior. Words are collected and contained on a page convey emotion as if a simulcast of real and read experience. The reader’s personal experience and perspective fill in the narrative gaps. Reading is an interactive experience. The reader writes while reading. The writer reads while writing. Some writers do not trust the reader. They write away all narrative excitement and joy of discovery.
Antonioni’s films, art film generally, breaks with expected conventions of narrative. The film begins in media res as if the viewer happens upon a street scene or walks into an occupied room mid-conversation. The framing takes place within the context of interpretation that evolves as continuous narrative frames are presented. In the case of art film, Antonioni’s films, watching is like reading; an interactive contemplation of exchanged narrative. Rarely are character and viewer moved through the narrative from introduction to finale. Revelations are applied, implied, not given. The film pauses, but continues in a realm of possibility. The characters’ future interaction with each other in the filmâ€™s narrative world by addition of frames very like Fan Fiction, where the reader picks up where the writer left off, where characters are given other roads to travel.
Realism is not created on the screen (page) but through viewer (reader) association. Black and white film is perhaps best at erasing time and place. Antonioni’s purposeful locals are almost free of identifying features. This makes the return home an odyssey since buildings, landscapes, natural features on a secluded volcanic island (“L’Avventure”) are homogenous difficult to discern one rock formation from another, the sea viewed from one perilous drop or another always presents vast emptiness.
Even Antonioni’s choice of city and town streets suggest paths easily mistaken; the events push revelation on characters that resist transformation. Desire spurts and sputters along the same trajectory toward an apparent goal (finding the missing fiancé and friend) only to secure transportation between now and then in semi-awareness of life as vehicle to it own unknown non-determinant end.
Once set in motion the concept unravels like an endless filament with minimal temporal characteristics to slow or advance movement except for the leaves quivering fluttering in expectant apprehension framed within mortality’s haunting reality.