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Michelangelo Antonioni

Michelangelo Antonioni
Born September 29, 1912(1912-09-29)
Ferrara, Italy
Died July 30, 2007 (aged 94)
Rome, Italy
Occupation Film director
Years active 1942–2004
Spouse(s) Letizia Balboni (1942–1954)
Enrica Antonioni (1986–2007)

Michelangelo Antonioni, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI[1] (29 September 1912 – 30 July 2007) was an Italian modernist film director.



Michelangelo Antonioni was born into a well-to-do family of landowners in Ferrara, Emilia Romagna, in northern Italy. The director explained to Italian film critic Aldo Tassone:

My childhood was a happy one. My mother, Elisabetta Roncagli, was a warm and intelligent woman who had been a labourer in her youth. My father also was a good man. Born into a working-class family, he succeeded in obtaining a comfortable position through evening courses and hard work. My parents gave me free rein to do what I wanted: with my brother, we spent most of our time playing outside with friends. Curiously enough, our friends were invariably proletarian, and poor. The poor still existed at that time, you recognized them by their clothes. But even in the way they wore their clothes, there was a fantasy, a frankness that made me prefer them to boys of bourgeois families. I always had sympathy for young women of working-class families, even later when I attended university: they were more authentic and spontaneous.[2]

While still a child, Antonioni was fond of drawing and music. A precocious violinist, he gave his first concert at the age of nine. Although he abandoned the violin with the discovery of cinema in his teens, drawing would remain a lifelong passion. "I have never drawn, even as a child, either puppets or silhouettes but rather facades of houses and gates. One of my favourite games consisted of organising towns. Ignorant in architecture, I constructed buildings and streets crammed with little figures. I invented stories for them. These childhood happenings - I was eleven years old - were like little films." [3]

Upon graduation from the University of Bologna with a degree in economics, he started writing for the local Ferrara newspaper Il Corriere Padano in 1935 as a film journalist.

In 1940, Antonioni moved to Rome, where he worked for Cinema, the official Fascist film magazine edited by Vittorio Mussolini. However, Antonioni was fired a few months afterward. Later that year he enrolled at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia to study film technique, but left it after three months. He was drafted into the army afterwards.

Antonioni died aged 94 on July 30, 2007 in Rome, the same day that another renowned film director, Ingmar Bergman, also died. Antonioni lay in state at City Hall in Rome where a large screen showed black-and-white footage of him among his film sets and behind-the-scenes. He was buried in his home town of Ferrara on August 2, 2007.


Early film work

In 1942, Antonioni co-wrote Un pilota ritorna with Roberto Rossellini and worked as assistant director on Enrico Fulchignoni's I due Foscari. In 1943, he travelled to France to assist Marcel Carné on Les visiteurs du soir and then began a series of short films with Gente del Po (1943), a story of poor fishermen of the Po valley. After the Liberation, the film stock was stored in the East-Italian Fascist "Republic of Salo" and could not be recovered and edited until 1947 (the complete footage was never retrieved). These films were neorealist in style, being semi-documentary studies of the lives of ordinary people.[4]

However, Antonioni's first full-length feature film Cronaca di un amore (1950) broke away from neorealism by depicting the middle classes. He continued to do so in a series of other films : I vinti ("The Vanquished", 1952), a trio of stories, each set in a different country (France, Italy and England), about juvenile delinquency; La signora senza camelie (The Lady Without Camellias, 1953) about a young film star and her fall from grace; and Le amiche (The Girlfriends, 1955) about middle class women in Turin. Il grido (The Outcry, 1957) was a return to working class stories, depicting a factory worker and his daughter. Each of these stories is about social alienation.[4]

International recognition

In Le Amiche (1955), Antonioni experimented with a radical new style: instead of a conventional narrative, he presented a series of apparently disconnected events, and he used long takes as part of his film making style.[4] Antonioni returned to their use in L'avventura (1960), which became his first international success. At the Cannes Film Festival it received a mixture of cheers and boos,[5] but the film was popular in art house cinemas around the world. La notte (1961), starring Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni, and L'eclisse (1962), starring Monica Vitti and Alain Delon, followed L'avventura. These three films are commonly referred to as a trilogy because they are stylistically similar and all concerned with the alienation of man in the modern world. La notte won the Golden Bear award at the 11th Berlin International Film Festival,[6] His first color film, Il deserto rosso (Red Desert, 1964), deals with similar themes, and is sometimes considered the fourth film of the "trilogy".[7]

Antonioni then signed a deal with producer Carlo Ponti that would allow artistic freedom on three films in English to be released by MGM. The first, Blowup (1966), set in Swinging London, was a major success. The script was loosely based on the short story The Devil's Drool (otherwise known as Blow Up) by Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar. Although it dealt with the challenging theme of the impossibility of objective standards and the ever-doubtable truth of memory, it was a successful and popular hit with audiences, no doubt helped by its sex scenes, which were explicit for the time. It starred David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave. The second film was Zabriskie Point (1970), his first set in America and with a counterculture theme. The soundtrack carried popular artists such as Pink Floyd (who wrote new music specifically for the film), the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones. However, its release was a critical and commercial disaster. The third, The Passenger (1975), starring Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider, received critical praise, but also did poorly at the box office. It was out of circulation for many years, but was re-released for a limited theatrical run in October 2005 and has subsequently been released on DVD.

In 1972, in between Zabriskie Point and The Passenger, Antonioni was invited by the Mao government of the People's Republic of China to visit the country. He made the documentary Chung Kuo, Cina, but it was severely denounced by the Chinese authorities as "anti-Chinese" and "anti-communist".[8] The documentary had its first showing in China in November 25, 2004 in Beijing with a film festival hosted by the Beijing Film Academy to honor the works of Michelangelo Antonioni.[9]

Later career

In 1980, Antonioni made Il mistero di Oberwald (The Mystery of Oberwald), an experiment in the electronic treatment of color, recorded in video and then translated to film, featuring Monica Vitti once more. It is based on Jean Cocteau's play L'Aigle à deux têtes (The Eagle With Two Heads). Identificazione di una donna (Identification of a Woman, 1982), filmed in Italy, deals one more time with the recursive subjects of his Italian trilogy. In 1985, Antonioni suffered a stroke, which left him partly paralyzed and unable to speak. However, he continued to make films, including Beyond the Clouds (1995), for which Wim Wenders filmed some scenes. As Wenders has explained, Antonioni rejected almost all the material filmed by Wenders during the editing, except for a few short interludes.[10] They shared the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice Film Festival with Cyclo.

In 1994 he was given the Honorary Academy Award "in recognition of his place as one of the cinema's master visual stylists." It was presented to him by Jack Nicholson. Months later, the statuette was stolen by burglars and had to be replaced. Previously, he had been nominated for Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay for Blowup. Antonioni's final film, made when he was in his 90s, was a segment of the anthology film Eros (2004), entitled "Il filo pericoloso delle cose" ("The Dangerous Thread of Things"). The short film's episodes are framed by dreamy paintings and the song "Michelangelo Antonioni", composed and sung by Caetano Veloso.[11] However, it was not well-received internationally; in America, for example, Roger Ebert claimed that it was neither erotic nor about eroticism.[12] The U.S. DVD release of the film includes another 2004 short film by Antonioni, Lo sguardo di Michelangelo (The Gaze of Michelangelo).


Film historian Virginia Wright Wexman describes Antonioni's perspective on the world as that of a "postreligious Marxist and existentialist intellectual."[13] In a speech at Cannes about L'Avventura, Antonioni said that in the modern age of reason and science, mankind still lives by "a rigid and stereotyped morality which all of us recognize as such and yet sustain out of cowardice and sheer laziness". He said his films explore the paradox that "we have examined those moral attitudes very carefully, we have dissected them and analyzed them to the point of exhaustion. We have been capable of all this, but we have not been capable of finding new ones."[citation needed] Nine years later he expressed a similar attitude in an interview, saying that he loathed the word 'morality': "When man becomes reconciled to nature, when space becomes his true background, these words and concepts will have lost their meaning, and we will no longer have to use them." [14]

One of the recurring themes in Antonioni's films is characters who suffer from ennui and whose lives are empty and purposeless aside from the gratification of pleasure or the pursuit of material wealth. Film historian David Bordwell writes that in his films, "Vacations, parties and artistic pursuits are vain efforts to conceal the characters' lack of purpose and emotion. Sexuality is reduced to casual seduction, enterprise to the pursuit of wealth at any cost."[15] Antonioni's films tend to have spare plots and dialogue, and much of the screen time is spent lingering on certain settings, such as the seven-minute continuous take in The Passenger, or the scene in L'Eclisse in which Monica Vitti stares curiously at electrical posts accompanied by ambient sounds of wires clanking. Virginia Wright Wexman summarizes his style in the following terms: "The camera is placed at a medium distance more often than close in, frequently moving slowly; the shots are permitted to extend uninterrupted by cutting. Thus each image is more complex, containing more information than it would in a style in which a smaller area is framed ... In Antonioni's work we must regard his images at length; he forces our full attention by continuing the shot long after others would cut away."[13] Antonioni is also noted for exploiting colour as a significant expressive element of his cinematic style, especially in Il deserto rosso, his first colour film.

Bordwell explains that Antonioni's films were extremely influential on subsequent art films: "More than any other director, he encouraged filmmakers to explore elliptical and open-ended narrative".[15] Film director Akira Kurosawa considered Antonioni one of the most interesting filmmakers.[16] Stanley Kubrick listed La Notte as one of his ten favorite films in a 1963 Poll.[17] Andrei Tarkovsky also listed Antonioni as one of his favorite filmmakers.[18] Miklós Jancsó considers Antonioni as his master. [19]

Antonioni's spare style and purposeless characters, however, have not received universal acclaim. Ingmar Bergman stated in 2002 that he considered some of Antonioni's films, including Blowup and La notte, masterpieces for their detached and dreamlike quality, but found the other films boring and noted that he had never understood why Antonioni was held in such esteem.[20] Orson Welles regretted the Italian director's use of the long take: "I don't like to dwell on things. It's one of the reasons I'm so bored with Antonioni - the belief that, because a shot is good, it's going to get better if you keep looking at it. He gives you a full shot of somebody walking down a road. And you think, 'Well, he's not going to carry that woman all the way up that road.' But he does. And then she leaves and you go on looking at the road after she's gone."[21]


Feature films

Short films

  • Gente del Po (People of the Po, 10 min, shot in 1943, released in 1947)
  • N.U. (Nettezza urbana) (Dustmen, 11 min, 1948)
  • Oltre l'oblio (1948)
  • Roma-Montevideo (1948)
  • L'amorosa menzogna (Loving Lie, 10 min, 1949)
  • Sette cani e un vestito (Seven Reeds, One Suit, 10 min, 1949)
  • Bomarzo (1949)
  • Ragazze in bianco (Girls in white, 1949)
  • Superstizione (Superstition, 9 min, 1949)
  • La villa dei mostri (The House of Monsters, 10 min, 1950)
  • La funivia del Faloria (The Funicular of Mount Faloria, 10 min, 1950)
  • Inserto girato a Lisca Bianca (TV, 8 min, 1983)
  • Kumbha Mela (18 min, 1989)
  • Noto, Mandorli, Vulcano, Stromboli, Carnevale (Volcanoes and Carnival, 8 min, 1993)
  • Sicilia (9 min, 1997)
  • Lo sguardo di Michelangelo (The Gaze of Michelangelo, 15 min, 2004)

Episodes in omnibus films

  • Tentato suicido ("When Love Fails", episode in L'amore in città, 1953)
  • Il provino (segment in The Three Faces of a Woman - I tre volti, 1965)
  • Roma (segment in 12 registi per 12 città, promotional film for Soccer World Championship, 1989)
  • Il filo pericoloso delle cose ("The Dangerous Thread of Things", segment in Eros, 2004)


  1. ^ Honour at Quirinale website
  2. ^ Tassone, 13
  3. ^ Tassone, 14
  4. ^ a b c Cook, 535
  5. ^ Penelope Houston, "Obituary: Michelangelo Antonioni", The Guardian (31 July 2007). Retrieved on 21-12-08.
  6. ^ "Berlinale 1961: Prize Winners". Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  7. ^ Antonioni's Nothingness and Beauty
  8. ^ Eco and Leefeldt, 8-12
  9. ^ Chung Kuo
  10. ^ Wenders, 79
  11. ^ Ian Johnston, "We’re Not Happy and We Never Will Be: On Cronaca di un amore", Bright Lights Film Journal (August 2006). Retrieved on 21-12-08.
  12. ^ Ebert, Eros, Chicago Sun-Times (April 8, 2005). Retrieved on 21-12-08.
  13. ^ a b Wexman, 312.
  14. ^ Interview with Antonioni conducted in Rome, 29 July 1969. Cf. Samuels, 15-32.
  15. ^ a b Bordwell and Thompson, 427-428.
  16. ^ Kurosawa, Akira: Something Like an Autobiography, p.242. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1982.
  17. ^ Ciment, 34.
  18. ^ Tarkovsky's Choice
  19. ^ [Jancsó, Miklós: A Mester lebegve érkezik (Michelangelo Antonioni) in: Filmvilág 2007/10.]
  20. ^ Jan Aghed, "När Bergman går på bio", Sydsvenska Dagbladet, 12 May 2002.
  21. ^ Bogdanovich, 103-104


  • Bogdanovich, Peter. This Is Orson Welles. New York: HarperPerennial, 1992. ISBN 0-06-092439-X
  • Bordwell, David and Kristin Thompson. Film History: An Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. ISBN 0-07-038429-0
  • Ciment, Michel. Kubrick: The Definitive Edition. Faber & Faber, 2003. ISBN 0-571-21108-9
  • Cook, David A. A History of Narrative Film. New York: Norton, 2004. ISBN 0-393-97868-0
  • Eco, Umberto and Christine Leefeldt. "De Interpretatione, or the Difficulty of Being Marco Polo (On the Occasion of Antonioni's China Film)". Film Quarterly 30.4 (1977): Special Book Issue: 8-12.
  • Wenders, Wim. My Time With Antonioni: The Diary of an Extraordinary Experience. London: Faber & Faber, 2000. ISBN 0-571-20076-1
  • Wexman, Virginia Wright. A History of Film. Boston: Pearson, 2006. ISBN 0-205-44976-X
  • Samuels, Charles Thomas. Encountering Directors. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1972. ISBN 0-399-11023-2
  • Tassone, Aldo. Antonioni. Paris: Flammarion, 2007. ISBN 978-2-08-120301-3

Further reading


  • Antonioni, Michelangelo. Michelangelo Antonioni: An Introduction. Trans. by Scott Sullivan. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963.
  • Arrowsmith, William and Ted Perry, ed. Antonioni: the poet of images. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Brunette, Peter. The Films of Michelangelo Antonioni. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Chatman, Seymour. Antonioni or the Surface of the World. Berkeley : University of California Press, 1985.
  • Lyons, Robert Joseph. Michelangelo Antonioni's Neo-Realism: A World View. Diss. Bowling Green State University, 1973.

Documentaries on Antonioni

  • Antonioni, Enrica. Fare un film per me è vivere (Making a Film for Me is to Live), 1996. (52')
  • Di Carlo, Carlo. Antonioni su Antonioni (Antonioni on Antonioni), 2008. (55')
  • —. Antonioni: Lo sguardo che cambio il cinema (Antonioni: the Gaze that Changed Cinema), 2001. (60')
  • Labarthe, André S. L'ultima sequenza di Professione: Reporter (The Last Sequence of The Passenger), 1974. (12')
  • Miccichè, Lino. Antonioni visto da Antonioni (Antonioni Seen by Antonioni), 1978. (28')

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The moment always comes when, having collected one's ideas, certain images, an intuition of a certain kind of development — whether psychological or material — one must pass on to the actual realization.

Michelangelo Antonioni (29 September 191230 July 2007) was an Italian modernist film director whose films are widely considered among the most influential in film aesthetics.



My work is like digging, it's archaeological research among the arid materials of our times...
  • She isn't my wife, really. We just have some kids.
    No. No kids. Sometimes, though, it feels as if we had kids.

    She isn't beautiful, she's just easy to live with.
    No, she isn't. That's why I don't live with her.
  • My work is like digging, it's archaeological research among the arid materials of our times. That's how I understand my first films, and that's what I'm still doing...
    • On Zabriskie Point (1970) in Esquire (August 1970)
  • Hollywood is like being nowhere and talking to nobody about nothing.
    • Sunday Times [London] (20 June 1971)

Cahiers du Cinema (1960)

Sometimes I arrive at the place where the work is to be done and I do not even know what I am going to shoot.
"Autobiographical interview" in Cahiers du Cinema (1960)
  • I am not a theoretician of the cinema. If you ask me what directing is, the first answer that comes into my head is: I don't know.
  • The moment always comes when, having collected one's ideas, certain images, an intuition of a certain kind of development — whether psychological or material — one must pass on to the actual realization. In the cinema, as in the other arts, this is the most delicate moment — the moment when the poet or writer makes his first mark on the page, the painter on his canvas, when the director arranges his characters in their setting, makes them speak and move, establishes, through the compositions of his various images, a reciprocal relationship between persons and things, between rhythm of the dialogue and that of the whole sequence, makes the movement of the camera fit in with the psychological situation. But the most crucial moment of all comes when the director gathers from all the people and from everything around him every possible suggestion, in order that his work may acquire a more spontaneous cast, may become more personal and, we might even say — in the broadest sense — more autobiographical.
  • For me, from the moment when the first, still unformed, idea comes into my head until the projection of the rushes, the process of making a film constitutes a single piece of work. I mean that I cannot become interested in anything, day or night, which is not that film. Let no one imagine that this is a romantic pose — on the contrary. I become relatively more lucid, more attentive, and almost feel as if I were intelligent and more ready to understand.
  • I rarely feel the desire to reread a scene the day before the shooting. Sometimes I arrive at the place where the work is to be done and I do not even know what I am going to shoot. This is the system I prefer: to arrive at the moment when shooting is about to begin, absolutely unprepared, virgin. I often ask to be left alone on the spot for fifteen minutes or half an hour and I let me thoughts wander freely.
  • I find that it is very useful to look over the location and to feel out the atmosphere while waiting for the actors. It may happen that the images before my eyes coincide with those I had in my mind, but this is not frequently the case. It more often happens that there is something insincere or artificial about the image one has thought of. Here again is another way of improvising.
  • The principle behind the cinema, like that behind all the arts, rests on a choice. It is, in Camus' words, "the revolt of the artist against the real."
    If one holds to this principle, what difference can it make by what means reality is revealed? Whether the author of a film seizes on the real in a novel, in a newspaper story or in his own imagination, what counts is the way he isolates it, stylizes it, makes it his own.
  • A director is a man, therefore he has ideas; he is also an artist, therefore he has imagination. Whether they are good or bad, it seems to me that I have an abundance of stories to tell. And the things I see, the things that happen to me, continually renew the supply.

Encountering Directors interview (1969)

I began taking liberties a long time ago; now it is standard practice for most directors to ignore the rules.
Interview in Rome (29 July 1969), published in Encountering Directors (1972) by Charles Thomas Samuels, p. 15-32
  • When I am shooting a film I never think of how I want to shoot something; I simply shoot it. My technique, which differs from film to film, is wholly instinctive and never based on a priori considerations.
Scientific man is already on the moon, and yet we are still living with the moral concepts of Homer. Hence this upset, this disequilibrium that makes weaker people anxious and apprehensive...
  • I began taking liberties a long time ago; now it is standard practice for most directors to ignore the rules.
  • I try to avoid repetitions of any shot. It isn't easy to find one in my films. You might, I suppose, see something twice, but it would be rare. And then, you know, every line requires its own kind of shot. The American method of shooting one actor continuously, then moving to the other, then intercutting both — this method is wrong. A scene has to have a rhythm of its own, a structure of its own.
When a scene is being shot, it is very difficult to know what one wants it to say, and even if one does know, there is always a difference between what one has in mind and the result on film.
  • I want my characters to suggest the background in themselves, even when it is not visible. I want them to be so powerfully realized that we cannot imagine them apart from their physical and social context even when we see them in empty space.
  • We are saddled with a culture that hasn't advanced as far as science. Scientific man is already on the moon, and yet we are still living with the moral concepts of Homer. Hence this upset, this disequilibrium that makes weaker people anxious and apprehensive, that makes it so difficult for them to adapt to the mechanism of modern life. ... We live in a society that compels us to go on using these concepts, and we no longer know what they mean. In the future — not soon, perhaps by the twenty-fifth century — these concepts will have lost their relevance. I can never understand how we have been able to follow these worn-out tracks, which have been laid down by panic in the face of nature. When man becomes reconciled to nature, when space becomes his true background, these words and concepts will have lost their meaning, and we will no longer have to use them.
  • I would like to make clear that I speak only of sensations. I am neither a sociologist nor a politician. All I can do is imagine for myself what the future will be like.
  • I don't want what I am saying to sound like a prophecy or anything like an analysis of modern society .... these are only feelings I have, and I am the least speculative man on earth.
  • When a scene is being shot, it is very difficult to know what one wants it to say, and even if one does know, there is always a difference between what one has in mind and the result on film. I never think ahead of the shot I'm going to make the following day because if I did, I'd only produce a bad imitation of the original image in my mind. So what you see on the screen doesn't represent my exact meaning, but only my possibilities of expression, with all the limitations implied in that phrase. Perhaps the scene reveals my incapacity to do better; perhaps I felt subconsciously ironic toward it. But it is on film; the rest is up to you.
  • Modern life is very difficult for people who are unprepared. But this new environment will eventually facilitate more realistic relationships between people.
  • I think people talk too much; that's the truth of the matter. I do. I don't believe in words. People use too many words and usually wrongly. I am sure that in the distant future people will talk much less and in a more essential way. If people talk a lot less, they will be happier. Don't ask me why.
  • When we say a character in my films doesn't function, we mean he doesn't function as a person, but he does function as a character — that is, until you take him as a symbol. At that point it is you who are not functioning. Why not simply accept him as a character, without judging him? Accept him for what he is. Accept him as a character in a story, without claiming that he derives or acquires meaning from that story. There may be meanings, but they are different for all of us.
We know that under the image revealed there is another which is truer to reality and under this image still another and yet again still another...
  • Don't regard my characters as symbols of a determined society. See them as something that sparks a reaction within you so that they become a personal experience. The critic is a spectator and an artist insofar as he transforms the work into a personal thing of his own.
  • My characters are ambiguous. Call them that. I don't mind. I am ambiguous myself. Who isn't?
  • Sometimes I pick up a magazine and read a piece of film criticism — to the end only if I like it. I don't like those which are too free with praise because their reasons seem wrong and that annoys me. Critics who attack me do so for such contradictory reasons that they confuse me, and I am afraid that if I am influenced by one, I will sin according to the standards of the other.
  • We know that under the image revealed there is another which is truer to reality and under this image still another and yet again still another under this last one, right down to the true image of that reality, absolute, mysterious, which no one will ever see or perhaps right down to the decomposition of any image, of any reality.
    • As quoted by the interviewer from the introduction to an Italian publlication of Antonioni's screenplays.
Everything depends on what you put in front of the camera, what perspectives you create, contrasts, colors.
  • People are always misquoting me.
    • In response to interviewer stating that he had said that the two main components of his technique were the camera and the actors.
  • I've always said that the actor is only an element of the image, rarely the most important. The actor is important with his dialogue, with the landscape, with a gesture — but the actor in himself is nothing.
  • You must be painter who takes a canvas and does what he likes with it. We are more like painters in past centuries who were ordered to paint frescoes to specific measurements. Among the people in the fresco may be a bishop, the prince's wife, etc. The fresco isn't bad simply because the painter used for models people from the court of the prince who ordered and paid for it.
  • When we find ourselves up against practical obstacles that can't be overcome, we must go forward. You either make the film as you can or don't make it at all.
  • I have always imposed my wishes on the cameraman. Moreover, I have always picked them at the outset of their careers and, to a certain extent, have formed them myself.
  • Everything depends on what you put in front of the camera, what perspectives you create, contrasts, colors. The cameraman can do great things, provided he is well grounded technically. If a person hasn't the raw material, I obviously couldn't do anything with him. But all I ask of a cameraman is technical experience. Everything else is up to me. I was amazed to find that in America cameramen are surprised that this is the way I work.
The photographer in Blow-Up, who is not a philosopher, wants to see things closer up. But it so happens that, by enlarging too far, the object itself decomposes and disappears.
  • I always want to tell stories. But they must be stories that evolve, like our own lives. Perhaps what I seek is a new kind of story.
  • One doesn't enter groups of people simply because one wants or needs to. One has an infinite number of opportunities that occur for no particular reason. Sometimes you feel a sudden unexpected pleasure at being where you find yourself.
  • Is it important to show why a character is what he is? No. He is. That's all.
  • You mustn't ask me to explain everything I do. I can't. That's that. How can I say why at a certain moment I needed this. How can I explain why I needed a confusion of colors?
  • The greatest danger for those working in the cinema is the extraordinary possibility it offers for lying.
    • As quoted by the interviewer, from a preface to his screenplays
  • It's very difficult to explain what I do. It is much more instinctive than you realize; much, much more. ... the reasons that make me interested in a subject are, how shall I say, fickle. Many times I have chosen, among three stories, one for reasons that are entirely accidental: I get up and think this one will be stupendous because the night before I had a certain dream. Or perhaps I put it better by saying that I had found inside myself reasons why this particular story seems more valid. ... I always have motives, but I forget them.


  • The photographer in Blow-Up, who is not a philosopher, wants to see things closer up. But it so happens that, by enlarging too far, the object itself decomposes and disappears. Hence there's a moment in which we grasp reality, but then the moment passes. This was in part of the meaning of Blow-Up.
    • On Blow-Up (1966)

Quotes about Antonioni

  • The films of Michelangelo Antonioni are aesthetically complex – critically stimulating though elusive in meaning. They are ambiguous works that pose difficult questions and resist simple conclusions. Classical narrative causalities are dissolved in favour of expressive abstraction. Displaced dramatic action leads to the creation of a stasis occupied by vague feelings, moods and ideas. Confronted with hesitancy, the spectator is compelled to respond imaginatively and independent of the film. The frustration of this experience reflects that felt in the lives of Antonioni's characters: unable to solve their own personal mysteries they often disappear, leave, submit or die. The idea of abandonment is central to Antonioni's formal structuring of people, objects, and ideas. He evades presences and emphasises related absences. His films are as enigmatic as life: they show that the systematic organisation of reality is a process of individual mediation disturbed by a profound inability to act with certainty.
  • Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up opened in America two months before I became a film critic, and colored my first years on the job with its lingering influence. ... Over three days recently, I revisited Blow-Up in a shot-by-shot analysis. Freed from the hype and fashion, it emerges as a great film, if not the one we thought we were seeing at the time. ... Whether there was a murder isn't the point. The film is about a character mired in ennui and distaste, who is roused by his photographs into something approaching passion. As Thomas moves between his darkroom and the blowups, we recognize the bliss of an artist lost in what behaviorists call the Process; he is not thinking now about money, ambition or his own nasty personality defects, but is lost in his craft. His mind, hands and imagination work in rhythmic sync. He is happy.
    Later, all his gains are taken back.... Blow-Up audaciously involves us in a plot that promises the solution to a mystery, and leaves us lacking even its players.

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Michelangelo Antonioni
Michelangelo Antonioni
Born September 29, 1912(1912-09-29)
Ferrara, Italy
Died July 30, 2007 (aged 94)
Rome, Italy
Years active 1942–2004
Spouse Letizia Balboni (1942–1954)
Enrica Antonioni (1986–2007)
Awards FIPRESCI Prize from Berlin International Film Festival
1961 Body of the work
Golden Bear
1961 La notte
Bodil Award for Best European Film
1976 Professione: reporter
35th Anniversary Prize from Cannes Film Festival
1982 Identificazione di una donna
Palme d'Or
1967 Blowup
Jury Special Prize from Cannes Film Festival
1962 L'eclisse
Jury Prize from Cannes Film Festival
1960 L'avventura
Luchino Visconti Award
European Film Award
1993 Lifetime Achievement
Flaiano International Prize
2000 Career Award
Best Foreign Film Award from French Syndicate of Cinema Critics
1968 Blowup
Golden Career Gryphon
François Truffaut Award
Istanbul Film Festival
1996 Lifetime Achievement
Silver Ribbon for Best Director
1976 Professione: reporter
1962 La notte
1956 Le amiche
Silver Ribbon for Best Director of Foreign Film
1968 Blowup
Special Silver Ribbon for the human and stylistic values
1951 Cronaca di un amore
Silver Ribbon for Best Documentary
1950 L'amorosa menzogna
1948 Nettezza urbana
KCFCC Award for Best Director
1968 Blowup
Golden Leopard from Locarno Film Festival
1957 Il grido
Sutherland Trophy
1960 L'avventura
Grand Prix Special des Amériques from Montréal Film Festival
1995 Exceptional contribution to the art
Special Citation from NSFC
2001 Career
NSFC Award for Best Director
1967 Blowup
FIPRESCI Prize from Valladolid Film Festival
2004 Lo sguardo di Michelangelo
Pietro Bianchi Award
Golden Lion
1983 Career
1964 Il deserto rosso
FIPRESCI Prize from Venice Film Festival
1995 Beyond the Clouds
1964 Il deserto rosso
Silver Lion
1955 Le amiche

Michelangelo Antonioni (September 29 1912July 30, 2007[1]) was born in Rome, Italy. He was a film director. His most famous movie is Blow up made in 1966. He died at the same day as Ingmar Bergman, another famous director.


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