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 - give the man a chance, will you guys!
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.
Scene 1: Regina Nemni
The husband and wife bicker and argue while pretending to do things together. They see a pretty woman at a restaurant, and the man is intrigued. For most of the scene, Regina Nemni who plays the wife, is either topless or wearing a transparent top, and the husband barely even notices.
Scene 2: Luisa Ranieri
The husband is drawn to the pretty woman he saw at the restaurant, and visits her residence. She invites him in, but warns him of impending chaos. What follows is a scene quite unlike I've ever seen in an Antonioni film - the man was half paralysed and unable to even speak properly when he made this film, but the scene 'talks' and walks the walk alright! Beautiful Luisa Ranieri is everything a man could wish for in this sensual scene.
Scene 3: Luisa Ranieri and Regina Nemni
The husband leaves for Paris while the wife continues her vacation. It appears they are still in love. And we have the free-spirited Linda enjoying herself at the beach. This is one of the most beautiful and tastefully made nude scenes I've seen, and the reason why it had adorned my masthead so far. Luisa Ranieri in particular reminds me of some late renaissance work - full of grace and sensuality. For those wondering how she is now, she is still as beautiful and sexy as she was in this film, albeit a bit more clothed.