Filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni Dies
Director made 'Blow-Up,' 'L'avventura' and 'The Passenger'
The filmmaker died late Monday night, July 30, following the death of famed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.
Antonioni received Oscar nominations for his writing and directing on 1966's "Blow-Up," his first English-language film and finally received an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar in 1995. His work was marked by spare dialogue and themes of alienation and angst.
Upon Antonioni's passing, Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano remarked that the country had "lost one of cinema's greatest protagonists and one of the greatest explorers of expression in the 20th century."
Antonioni was born in Ferrara, Italy and studied at Bologna University. In 1935 he began writing as a film journalist for Il Corriere Padano. it wasn't until he co-wrote a script for "Una Pilota Ritorna" with Roberto Rossellini in 1942 did he enter the film business in earnest.
Assisting Marcel Carne in France on "Les Visiteurs du Soir" followed, as did work on various short films. His first feature was 1950's "Cronaca di un Amore." More post-war Italian cinema followed, such as the "I Vinti" trio of stories about juvenile delinquency: "La Signora Senza Camelie," "Le Amiche" and "Il Grido."
He didn't start getting international acclaim, however, until 1960's "L'Avventura," which impressed with its deliberate, lingering, visual style, and began what was referred to his trilogy that continued with "La Notte" and "L'Eclisse."
What earned him a hip, cult status, however, was the first of his English-language films he did as part of a three-picture deal with Carlo Ponti. "Blow-Up" centers on a fashion and pop culture photographer who realizes one day that he's snapped the picture of a murder. The film stars David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave.
The next two films were 1970's "Zabriskie Point" and "The Passenger" (1975), which starred Jack Nicholson as a journalist who takes on the identity of a dead gunrunner.
He also made the 1972 film "Chung Kuo/Cina," which was denounced by the Chinese government as "anti-communist," the experimental "Il Mistero di Oberwald" and "Identificazione di una Donna."
In 1985, the filmmaker suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak, although he was still able to make films.
Antonioni's 1996 honorary Oscar, which was presented to him by Nicholson, was stolen by burglars and eventually had to be replaced.
His final work was "Il Filo Pericoloso delle Cose," his segment in "Eros" alongside Steven Soderbergh and Wong Kar Wai.
Antonioni will be buried on Thursday, Aug. 2 in his native Ferrara.