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Caro Antonioni

The Russian film historian Naum Kleiman once wrote that the test of a great filmmaker was not the single film, but the trilogy. Only through a trilogy could the formative idea behind a filmmaker’s work be fully understood. He was thinking of Eisenstein, I imagine, and his unfinished trilogy of Ivan the Terrible. By that same token, however, Antonioni is doubly remarkable, because, miraculously, he successfully made two of cinema’s great trilogies. First, of course, there were the three films that brought him obloquy at first and then lasting international fame: L’Avventura, La Notte and L’Eclisse, the Italian trilogy, in black and white. Then, only a few years later, came his second trilogy, this time cosmopolitan and in colour: Blow-Up, Zabriskie Pointand The Passenger, the MGM trilogy, set in the great cities of London, Los Angeles and Barcelona, port cities, but with two telling side-trips inland into the desert, first to Death Valley and then into the Sahara.

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