Antonioni’s L’Eclisse is, according to its star, Monica Vitti, ‘the story of a love that lasts for a short time – as brief as an eclipse’. Others have talked about its ‘sublime weirdness and disaffecting qualities’, the use of ‘discontinuous cutting’, or raved about the final seven minutes.
If existence is pointless it might well be that ‘the only thing to do is roam listlessly about, picking things up and putting things down’. Personally, I think that exploring alienation is all well and good, but that alienating a movie from its audience is a bit pointless.
Whatever, the movie follows Vittoria (Monica Vitti) from the end of one shallow and passionless love affair with a writer, through the start and abrupt end of another shallow and passionless affair, with a stockbroker.
The only time Vittoria appears to experience any emotion is when she visits Marta, the daughter of a Kenyan settler, and is entranced by her photographs of Masai men and women. While Marta condescends and demonises Africans – ‘Six million monkeys’ – Vittoria condescends and romanticises them; for her the apparently
happy natives represent a back to nature simplicity and contentment that appeal to her. She paints her face and body black, dresses in makeshift African costume and butt dances around the apartment with spear in hand.
That is until she points the spear towards Marta and is abruptly told to stop ‘playing negro’.
Franco Freda was key makeup artist & is pictured applying Monica Vitti’s blackface makeup.