In Antonioni’s L’Aventurra (1960), the seemingly perfect love of a couple is imposed upon by infidelity, lust, and distrust. While a love triangle forms and then falls apart, the rough and placid environment becomes a major player in this evolution. By the end of the film things have changed irrevocably for the lovers, but there is a sense of possible renewal that illuminates the final scenes in rural Italy.
Directed by Martin De Thurah, this video lives in the same universe as L’Aventurra with its themes of black & white isolation and hypnotic use of water imagery (not to mention a beautiful lead actress whose looks are on par with Monica Vitti’s). It’s also decidedly new wave, film noir and post-modern, referencing everything from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And it moves fluidly through all these places precisely because it deals with subject matter that is both universal and timeless.
The first image is a staggering one, a visually stunning shot of a woman bursting out of and then hovering above the dark water that surrounds her. Water is typically associated with re-birth, but here the director plays with that concept. The beginning of new love is the birth of an entirely new consciousness, new feelings and new heights of emotion. But as the couple embrace amidst the water, it serves as a sexual metaphor as much an emotional or spiritual one.
The original feelings of attraction and seduction are further represented in the “dance” that takes place between the woman and her man. While at first flamboyantly opposed to the beat of the tune, the movements become more precise as the relationship progresses. At the climax of this mating tango the woman is sent literally floating through the air, on a high of pure joy (a truly brilliant shot).
Everything is over-the-top, from the extreme symbolism to the ridiculously dramatic dancing of the lovers. Yet it is intentionally so, and representative of both the idealization of love and the way in which it can blind and overtake our senses. The bearded man jumps across tables to be nearer to his love, when he could have simply run around them. But notice as the woman soars ecstatically. She has her eyes closed, as if she is already dreaming of the present moment as it is happening. Love is the subject of many dreams, and for that reason we may often assume we are in it when we are not, or also fail to grasp it when we truly are.