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Michelangelo Antonioni’s, “L’Avventura,” was booed at it’s first screening at Cannes, in 1959. Such is the reaction to all things new and groundbreaking. The second screening fared much better, it was hailed as a genius work of art.

Anna, her boyfriend, Sandro, and best friend Claudia, go for a lovely boat ride one summer. Anna goes missing, and the boating party tries in vain to find her. Sandro and Claudia bond over the incident and start romantically seeing each other. Anna is never found, which begs the question, what happened to her? Which Antonioni never answers. It’s an art film. No tidy endings, people. It’s more like a meditation on love, life, and the transitory nature of it.

Anna’s father tells her Sandro will never marry her. Don’t you love his polka dot tie? Lea Massari and Renzo Ricci.

Anna’s simple dress is perfect for Spring/Summer. I love that there’s two ties at the waist. Monica Vitti and Lea Massari.

Anna fears losing Sandro, but simultaneously feels numb in her surroundings. This might reflect an Italian post-war sensibility. Intense feelings towards comforting emotions like love, but a numb psyche as a result of the recent WWII horrors, and unable to fully enjoy emotions like love.

Anna, Sandro, and Claudia embark on a short cruise.

l'avventura Monica Vitti

Love the deep V back of Claudia’s, (Monica Vitti) swimsuit.

l' avventura Italian fisherman's sweater

Love this Italian fisherman’s sweater.

l'avventura Lea Massari Gabriele Ferzetti

Anna has misgivings about getting married to Sandro. She wants him but at the same time, would be fine without him. She’s cornfused. This is the last we see of her.

Anna goes missing. Claudia, Sandro, and their friend Corrado stay on the island to continue searching for her. Claudia and Sandro develop an attraction to each other.

L'avventura Esmeralda Ruspoli Leilo Luttazzi Dominique Blanchar

This could be a Prada ad. Old Italian money + whimsy.

l'avventura 10

Antonioni is a master at framing. If I were a painter or photographer/DP, I’d be totally inspired by him.

l' avventura men's scarves

A study in Italian working-class men’s scarves and layering.

l' avventura Monica Vitti

Monica Vitti in repose. I love her shoes and that her sweater is not super fitted, but more blouse-like.

l' avventura Monica Vitti

It looks even better with a great handbag.

l' avventura Monica Vitti

Claudia, Monica Vitti, feels guilt for falling for Sandro. The ocean in the background remind you of Anna’s disappearance.

l' avventura

Antonioni goes out of his way to inject this little scene. This girl, Gloria Perkins, causes a near riot by walking around the city with a ripped side seam, exposing her undies and garter. The reporter Sandro sought out, explains it’s all a ruse to get some attention for herself and maybe a sucker willing to shell out big bucks to “date” her. Is Antonioni commenting on modern love being merely a transaction?

l'avventura monica vitti

I like that the ruffles are arranged on the chair framing Monica. It makes the frame more dynamic.

L'avventura Monica Vitti Esmeralda Ruspoli

Claudia dons one of Patrizia’s wigs, and looks like a certain missing girl.

L'avventura Monica Vitti

Polka dot suit + scarf. Serious, but fun.

L'avventura Monica Vitti

Interesting framing. Claudia’s double layered dress is too. Don’t see it being much for the masses though.

L'avventura Monica Vitti Gabriele Ferzetti

The last shot captures the theme of loneliness in love. Claudia fell in love with Sandro, then felt tremendous guilt for not wanting to find Anna. Sandro thinks he loves Claudia, but then gives in to his lust and hooks up with Gloria. Romantic love is difficult and complex and never is the answer to all of life’s problems. Claudia and Sandro are together but surrounded by emptiness.

Empty, desolate landscapes in natural and urban settings underscore the rudderless and lonely feelings of modern life.