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 Posted:   Mar 18, 2011 - 3:18 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Still trying to fill in my missing Antonioni films, so I finally got around to this from 1955.

Like most early Antonioni feature films, it's not very good. There's practically not a second that goes by without some sort of intense, rapid-fire Italian dialogue. I think it's fascinating that there's such a big gap between early Antonioni and later Antonioni in that regard, where he tried to communicate things more through audiovisuals.

The film is a typical "white telephone" film from the era (the very thing Italian neo-realism reacted to), focussing on the lives of a select group of young women (and men) in Turin - mostly upper-class - and their various relationships. The catalyst is Rosetta, the troubled young woman who falls in love with an artist that doesn't return the love, which again makes her contemplate suicide. Then the film revolves around the people surrounding her and her community.

It's at times very confusing because of the large number of characters that at times seem quite similar (they all wear some kind of fur or trenchcoat), and their specific issues, but Antonioni has clearly tried to make some sort of 'network' film here, with various stories being intertwined in one.

There are few traces of the trademark Antonioni issues and stylistic traits here, at most hinting to his ideas of alienation, places with personalities, relationship intrigue and so on.

Fusco's music is based largely on guitar and piano, and usually used as backing for the romantic scenes (often in a bossanova-type meter). It's pleasing enough, but not very original. There's one scene where the music seems to be used satirically - where Rosetta is finally turned down by the artist, she runs crying through the streets while some almost comical music plays on the soundtrack.

 
 Posted:   Mar 18, 2011 - 3:23 AM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

...The film is a typical "white telephone" film from the era (the very thing Italian neo-realism reacted to)...

More or less smile
The "white telephone" genre is synonimous of Italian Comedy dating back to the fascism time (so it's before neorealism). I agree you can feel a light mood in this movie.

I sincerely can't remember the music from this film. Did you like it?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 18, 2011 - 3:26 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

...The film is a typical "white telephone" film from the era (the very thing Italian neo-realism reacted to)...

More or less smile
The "white telephone" genre is synonimous of Italian Comedy dating back to the fascism time (so it's before neorealism). I agree you can feel a light mood in this movie.


Well yeah, but they weren't only comedies. Other stylistic traits included high-level intrigue, usually an upper class environment and what some would consider rather shallow treatment of deeper issues.

I'm not quite certain LE AMICHE isn't intended as some sort of comedy, in fact (see the scene I described above with Rosetta in the streets), although it's far from funny.

I sincerely can't remember the music from this film. Did you like it?

Yeah, in itself it's OK. Some nice guitar solo as well as piano plunkings by Travajoli that supported the more intimate moments. But nothing remarkable.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 18, 2011 - 1:20 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Hey Tonerow, no input from you this time? You responded to all my previous Antonioni topics... smile

 
 Posted:   Mar 18, 2011 - 4:32 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

Hey Tonerow, no input from you this time? You responded to all my previous Antonioni topics... smile

Yes, I'm here.
Just got home from work, so I didn't see this until now.

I own LE AMICHE on DVD. For me, LE AMICHE is the earliest of Antonioni's works from which I can detect some of his stylistic traits yet to come.
Pre-1955 Antonioni films that I've seen/own don't resonate with me like his later works do.
I think there's a sort of arc starting with LE AMICHE in 1955 and rising through IL GRIDO (1957) and onwards onto the masterpiece that is L'AVVENTURA.

Antonioni's emphasis on female protagonists and disconnected communication are seeds which he planted in LE AMICHE which, within a few short years, flourished into impressive structures.

...also, Yvonne Furneaux is very easy on my eyes. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 18, 2011 - 4:35 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Yes, I agree that there are small HINTS of it, but they are really buried deep beneath the standard story and typical Italian, dialogue heavy "soap" intrigues. One such hint is the scene where the salon woman and her working class love interest Carlo walk through the area where she was brought up - working class areas. It's got a little bit of the "place with personality" thing going on.

But - like the beach scene - they're usually more backdrops than independent entities.

 
 Posted:   Apr 4, 2011 - 1:25 AM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

This Sunday morning I had the surprise and the pleasure to watch LE AMICHE on Italian digital channel RAI MOVIE. I am surely not capable to write a review as detailed and coherent as yours but, oh boy, I realize I don't agree at all with Thor's "it's not very good" statement.

I confirm my opinion that the film doesn't belong, not even nearly, to the "white telephone" genre. It can't, not only for chronological reasons but not even substantially since it was inpired by a Pavese's novel written in 1949. This movie lays in between coeval neo-realism and the latter Antonioni style we all know. The desperation of the characters in the modern city strikly resembles Rocco e i suoi fratelli (though ironically the aristocratic Visconti deals with lower-class people, instead of Antonioni's upper-class friends). Also visually: think about the key-role of the "train" in both movies.

It's at times very confusing because of the large number of characters that at times seem quite similar (they all wear some kind of fur or trenchcoat).

Why? Maybe because it'a black and white movie?. smile The only opaque character (Clelia's lover) seldom or never wears the coat. The male characters are perfectly well defined (think about Cesare and Lorenzo for instance) regardless of their dresses, as well as the female characters (Nene's noncoformistic way of dressing stroke me a lot).

Besides Cesare (played by the incredible Franco Fabrizi) is Richard Burton's carbon copy so how can you confound him with someone else? (Richard Burton = Cesare, and not Antonio... smile
An other beautiful connection is between LE AMICHE's Rosetta and L'AVVENTURA's Anna. To me this proves an indeniable Antonioni's touch in casting actresses with identical look for the same evanescent characters.

Last. It's a fantastic masterpiece. It's surely less visual than later Antonioni but I'll tell you why, because the locations keep speaking to the spectator as much as the script dialogues. Locations have a calligraphic role here and are not undefined or "blurred" as in older Antonioni.
The Torino's streets are almost the same of THE ITALIAN JOB! Elegant downtown Via Roma and Via Cavour, the Murazzi (where Rosetta's corpse is found), Porta Nuova railway station or Corso Unità d'Italia (former Corso Polonia) at the fringes of the city (the river bank with the riding horsemen is located there). A line that made me laugh is when Lorenzo asks Rosetta whether she needs a taxi to go from Via Cavour to Via Roma. These streets are only 200 meters apart! It's exactly the same street where I use to parking when going to the center for a walk. smile

And yes, Giovanni Fusco's quiet score is amazing.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 4, 2011 - 1:45 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I confirm my opinion that the film doesn't belong, not even nearly, to the "white telephone" genre. It can't, not only for chronological reasons but not even substantially since it was inpired by a Pavese's novel written in 1949. This movie lays in between coeval neo-realism and the latter Antonioni style we all know. The desperation of the characters in the modern city strikly resembles Rocco e i suoi fratelli (though ironically the aristocratic Visconti deals with lower-class people, instead of Antonioni's upper-class friends). Also visually: think about the key-role of the "train" in both movies.

Yikes! Now that's a totally different evalution right there! I see it as a more or less DIRECT extension of the "white telephone" films of the war years - not because Antonioni necessarily shared a conviction with Mussolini, but because he didn't like neorealism. Never did. So by going retro here - alluding to the very thing neorealim reacted to - he made a statement, I think. Of course, it's not quite as shallow and gaudy as them, but has enough common characteristics to qualify. The intrigues, the upper class, the sentimentality, the lack of social critique beyond the most overt.

Also, there is very, very little here that has anything to do with the Antonioni we would know later on, except some brief "cameos" as described above.

But hey, variety of opinion is the spice of life! smile

 
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