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Michelangelo Antonioni (1912 – 2007)


Italian modernist film director whose films are widely considered among the most influential in film aesthetics.
Michelangelo Antonioni
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.
Antonioni quotes
Modern life is very difficult for people who are unprepared. But this new environment will eventually facilitate more realistic relationships between people.
Antonioni
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.




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.
Antonioni Michelangelo
Hollywood is like being nowhere and talking to nobody about nothing.
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.
Michelangelo Antonioni
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.
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.
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.
Antonioni Michelangelo
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.
Michelangelo Antonioni
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.




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.
Michelangelo Antonioni
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.
Antonioni quotes
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.
Antonioni Michelangelo
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.
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.
Michelangelo Antonioni
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 the meaning of Blow-Up.
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.
Michelangelo Antonioni
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.
Antonioni Michelangelo
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.


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