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Michelangelo Antonioni

Michelangelo Antonioni

Michelangelo Antonioni has been universally recognized as one of the great masters of cinema, celebrated for such classic films as L'Avventura, La Notte, Eclipse, The Red Desert, Blowup, and The Passenger. His contribution was to bring the language of modern art to narrative films--to communicate the alienation, fragmentation and confusion of the contemporary world through his visionary images.

Antonioni was born in the northern Italian city of Ferrara in 1912. As an undergraduate at the University of Bologna, he wrote for the theater and film criticism for the magazine Cinema. He later attended film school at the Centro Sperimentale. Antonioni began his work in film as a screenwriter and assistant director in the early 1940's, and in the later half of that decade, he made six short documentaries. When Antonioni was 38 years old, he directed his first fiction feature, Cronaca di un amore (Story of a Love Affair, 1950), and then made four other films in the mid-1950's, including Le amiche (The Girl Friends, 1955) and Il grido (The Outcry, 1957).

Antonioni burst into international prominence with the 1960 Cannes Film Festival premiere of L'Avventura (The Adventure). While the film was repeatedly booed at the screening due to its slow pace, it was given a Special Jury Award for a new movie language and the beauty of its images. It didn't take long for the quality of the the film to be more generally appreciated, and by 1962, L'Avventura placed second on the Sight and Sound critics poll for the ten best films in history

L'Avventura was the first part of a projected trilogy, and it was quickly followed by the second and third parts, La notte (The Night, 1961) and L'Eclisse (Eclipse, 1962), and his first color film, Red Desert (1964), all of which starred Monica Vitti.

After Red Desert, Antonioni began to make films in other countries, beginning with "Blowup (1966), made in Britain, which became an enormous worldwide commercial success. He then made Zabriskie Point (1970) in the United States and The Passenger (1975), which starred Jack Nicholson, in Africa and England. During this time, Antonioni visited China to make a four-hour television documentary.

Antonioni made only two feature films in the 1980's, The Mystery of Oberwald (1981), shot on video, and Identification of a Woman (1982). In 1985, he was partially paralyzed by a stroke and became unable to speak. He came back to cinema in 1995 with Beyond the Clouds. Based on four of his short stories, the film was a collaboration with Wim Wenders, who served as a standby director and also directed a sequence to link the four films. Antonioni and Wenders won a FIPRESCI prize at Venice for the film.

In 1995, Antonioni won a special Academy Award for his lifetime achievement in film. (He had previously been nominated as Best Director and Best Original Screennplay for Blowup.) Among the countless prizes he has been awarded for his films and body of work include: a Golden Bear at Berlin for La Notte, a Golden Lion at Venice for Red Desert (plus a 1983 Career Golden Lion), and a Golden Palm at Cannes for Blowup.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Michelangelo Antonioni Facts

OccupationDirector, Writer
BirthdaySeptember 29, 1912
Date of deathJuly 30, 2007 (age 94)
Awards1995 Academy Awards: Honorary Award

Selected Filmography

Zabriskie Point
The Passenger
Identification of a Woman
Il Grido
Red Desert
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