I will start Michelangelo Antonioni’s filmography here with his last film. “Eros” is a compilation of three films made by different directors, exploring love and romance as the title suggests.
European cinema has had so many great directors over the years (and still do), and Michelangelo Antonioni would be among the top five or six. He is also my favourite Italian director, and therefore duty-bound to writing a few lines about his genius.
Antonioni’s films intensely engage the audience mind – there are very few films of his that you could get away with a casual eye. His trademark scenes are long takes with the camera following the character a few feet away, to give the audience a disconnected but detailed view of his subject. Even today, you see several young directors, particularly from Latin America inspired by this style of film making. His films mainly delve into the void in human relationships – his characters tend do things to conform, be accepted, and succeed outwardly, but are nevertheless melancholic and empty within.
Back to “Eros” – his segment titled, “Il Filo Pericoloso delle Cose” [Eng. Title: The Dangerous Thread of Things] has been slated by some critics, citing the obvious sexual scenes, and alluding to later-life sexual fantasies of an old man – he was in his 90’s when the film was made. But I find the criticism unjustified and need to put this in perspective.
All three segments in the film deal with different stages of a couple’s relationship. While the first segment concerns unrequited love between a prostitute and her tailor, and the second with a man’s stress at work threatening to derail a happy marriage, the last – Antonioni’s segment is about a couple’s relationship that has gone stale, but where both are weary of being the one having to call it a day. They’re on holiday at a southern coastal village, in the hope of rekindling their romance.
For a start, this is certainly the most difficult of all segments where you need to explore the film’s theme when romance is non-existent, and love, strained. This resonates with his earlier 1961 classic, “La Notte” [The Night], where a couple’s relationship had similarly reached an impasse, but where it differs is in the conclusion. While it is all doom and gloom in the former, ‘The Dangerous Thread’ bring them back together through a catalyst, in the form of a free-spirited woman living next door. Antonioni manages to deliver the film’s theme while leaving us to wonder whether this ‘arrangement’ is going to last – we can see he wasn’t going to change his own convictions in a hurry for the sake of this film. I think these critics need to revisit this film with a more open mind – Recommended Viewing..!
The scenes for this post were cut from the ‘Mei Ah’ DVD – uncut, and with the original and mainly English soundtrack. I’d recommend this over the Warner and Artificial Eye editions, both dubbed into Italian during post-production, with some scenes needlessly cut.