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Antoinioni Exhibition at the Cinémathèque Franҫaise

3 February 2015

An Exhibition Dedicated to An Italian Cinematic Genius

Ask any lover of 1950's and 60's cinema, and Michelangelo Antonioni's name will soon be mentioned, with the likes of other era defining directors, such as Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa. However, defining Antonioni's varied career proves to be a much more difficult prospect. In an attempt to showcase his legacy to audiences of today, Cinémathèque Franҫaise is opening a brand new exhibition dedicated to the Italian filmmaker.

A Seminal Career Spanning Six Decades

Before taking a seat at the director's chair, Antonioni's life and career makes for an interesting tale. Growing up in an affluent household, he was afforded the chance to indulge his creativity through drawing and writing, which created the spark that would eventually lead him to film. He also spent time working as a film journalist, and at one point was even condemned to death for being a supposed member. Antonioni's first work in film was co-writing A Pilot Returns (1942), which would lead him on a journey to become one of history's most influential directors.

Over the next two decades, the Italian's work began to achieve critical acclaim. L'Avventura (1961) received a mixed response from viewers at the Cannes Film Festival, but enjoyed a strong following in the art house world. His first English language film, Blowup (1966), actually won the coveted Cannes Palme D'Or, and was nominated in the Best Director and Best Screenplay categories at the Academy Awards. During his career, Antonioni collaborated with iconic actors like Jack Nicholson, Vanessa Redgrave and John Malkovich.

In 1995, aged 82, the veteran auteur received an honorary award from the Academy "in recognition of his place as one of the cinema's master visual stylists." Since his death in 2007, his legacy has been long debated, but it's generally agreed upon that his use of lingering shots and open-ended narratives have influenced many of today's directors. For example, critics point to 'Antonioni-esque' lingering shots in the critically acclaimed TV series Mad Men.

The Life and Work of a Legend on Display

To showcase Antonioni's life and work, Cinémathèque Franҫaise will soon be opening a dedicated exhibition, with photographs, writings, scripts, drawing, videos and more, charting his work that spanned six decades. Dedicated film fans will discover aspects of the Italian's work, while more casual movie goers will simply be fascinated by the historic film memorabilia on show.

While this illuminating exhibition will be able to shed light on a man who is still considered somewhat of an enigma for his unique filmmaking style, it is perhaps fitting that certain elements of his process remain a mystery. As the man himself once put it: "You mustn't ask me to explain everything. I can't. That's that".


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