Michelangelo Antonioni: Man vs. Manmade

“I have never drawn, even as a child, either puppets or silhouettes but rather facades of houses and gates. One of my favourite games consisted of organising towns. Ignorant in architecture, I constructed buildings and streets crammed with little figures. I invented stories for them. These childhood happenings – I was eleven years old – were like little films.” – Michelangelo Antonioni

The 4th anniversary of Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni’s death was a few days ago on July 30th. If you have followed my posts, it may be clear by now that I am in love with Antonioni’s work, especially the “trilogy” of the early 60s (L’avventura, La Notte, L’eclisse). These black and white films were incredibly dark, isolated, rich and yet lost, just like the characters inhabiting them. There is a haunting kind of romanticism about all three.

The above quote by Antonioni himself describes perfectly an essential running theme in all of his films: his unique emphasis on architecture, portrayed as always overpowering the people. The director made a point to frame the characters with huge, modern buildings looming over them – maybe menacingly, maybe without any intention whatsoever.

It was meant to illustrate how lost and vulnerable the characters were – man vs. manmade. At some point, each of them appears dwarfed by large structures that are often not beautiful nor remarkable, but overwhelmingly immense and stable. These composed shots reveal the dreadful truth about humans, how small and fluttering we are.