Michelangelo Antonioni, Italian film director, Died at 94

Dead, Michelangelo Antonioni on the 30th of July 2007 at the age of 94, he was an Italian film director, screenwriter, editor, and short story writer.

Born into a prosperous family of landowners in Ferrara, Emilia Romagna, in northern Italy on the 29th of September 1912, in 1940, Antonioni moved to Rome, where he worked for Cinema, the official Fascist film magazine edited by Vittorio Mussolini.

However, Antonioni was fired a few months afterward. Later that year he enrolled at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia to study film technique, but left it after three months. He was drafted into the army afterwards.

During the war Antonioni survived being condemned to death for his membership in the resistance.

In 1943, he travelled to France to assist Marcel Carné on Les visiteurs du soir and then began a series of short films with Gente del Po (1943), a story of poor fishermen of the Po valley.

After the Liberation, the film stock was stored in the East-Italian Fascist “Republic of Salò” and could not be recovered and edited until 1947 (the complete footage was never retrieved).

These films were neorealist in style, being semi-documentary studies of the lives of ordinary people.

Antonioni then signed a deal with producer Carlo Ponti that would allow artistic freedom on three films in English to be released by MGM.

The first, Blowup (1966), set in Swinging London, was a major international success.

The script was loosely based on the short story The Devil’s Drool (otherwise known as Blow Up) by Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar.

Although it dealt with the challenging theme of the impossibility of objective standards and the ever-doubtable truth of memory, it was a successful and popular hit with audiences, no doubt helped by its sex scenes, which were explicit for the time. It starred David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave.

The second film was Zabriskie Point (1970), his first set in America and with a counterculture theme.

The soundtrack carried popular artists such as Pink Floyd (who wrote new music specifically for the film), the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones.

In 1994 he was given the Honorary Academy Award “in recognition of his place as one of the cinema’s master visual stylists.” It was presented to him by Jack Nicholson.

Months later, the statuette was stolen by burglars and had to be replaced.

Previously, he had been nominated for Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay for Blowup.

Antonioni’s final film, made when he was in his 90s, was a segment of the anthology film Eros (2004), entitled “Il filo pericoloso delle cose” (“The Dangerous Thread of Things”).

The short film’s episodes are framed by dreamy paintings and the song “Michelangelo Antonioni”, composed and sung by Caetano Veloso.
Antonioni is recognizably the product of the mild, uneventful plains of northern Italy that form the background for several of his films.

Reserved and unexpansive in manner, he has said that the experience most important to his development as a filmmaker and as a man was his upbringing in a settled, bourgeois, provincial home, with a sufficiency of money; a traditional education; a code of reserve and self-discipline; and the leisure and ease necessary for a detached view of people and of life.

He attended school in Ferrara and went to the university at Bologna, though he continued to live at home and commuted daily to his studies.