Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Word of the week-avventura

Today's New York Times spotlights Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura (1960) as part of its Critics' Pick series. And deservedly so, as the great film foreshadows the central crisis of our time, the disappearance of meaning and its consequences on human relations. Ironically, I also read a few minutes earlier in La Repubblica that Italians are the world champs in Facebook use, beating us (Americans) out. I hope you see the connection.

The word avventura is central to the interpretation of the film. It is a partial false friend: its primary meaning is in fact equivalent to the English "adventure," which would perhaps describe the protagonists' attempts to find their lost friend. But it also means "fling" or "passing, insignificant affair." Of the type that men often invoke when they're caught by their wives and swear "she didn't mean a thing to me!" Toward the end of the work, the male protagonist matter-of-factly informs the female protagonist that what they shared was an avventura. To her great dismay. I heartily recommend a viewing (or a second viewing, or a third...) of this masterpiece, although it's no crowd pleaser.

(in the photo, Gabriele Ferzetti and Monica Vitti)