Often considered part of a trilogy with the much-lauded "La Notte" and "L'Avventura," Italian master filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni's film "L'eclisse" has always felt a bit like the redheaded stepchild of the series: always the bridesmaid, never considered the masterpiece. Starring (then) European superstars Monica Vitti and Alain Delon, this third entry in the unofficial "alienation trilogy" sees Vitti's Vittoria traveling about a half-finished Rome, staring at a half-completed cityscape, with Antonioni contrasting those visions with numerous sequences of stockbrokers (Delon's one of them) shouting and trading money back-and-forth all day long. Humankind is still under development, Antonioni seems to be saying - with all our petty concerns and financial obsessions, we're a race that hasn't quite reached the top floor yet.
Appropriately, considering the narrative and visual spareness of Antonioni's cinema (he favors long takes,) this Criterion Blu-ray release is only flanked by a couple of extras - but those that are included are of high significance. First up is an audio commentary recorded by film scholar Richard Pena, which discusses everything from the film's making to the history of the actors featured in the picture. Pena shifts gleefully between historical background and subtextual analysis, providing for a pleasurably varied commentary track. Next up is an hour-long documentary, "Michelangelo Antonioni: The Eye That Changed Cinema." This one's all subtext, delving deep into Antonioni's compositions and their effect on the viewer, while providing much footage of the man himself discussing his own style.
Most interesting of the extra features on the disc, though, is "Elements of Landscape," a 22-minute analysis of the film done in the form of a visual essay. Put together by film critic Adriana Apra and Antonioni expert Carlo di Carlo, this featurette gets directly into the architectural influence in Antonioni's work; looking at the way buildings have shaped and featured in his visual compositions. They provide a running commentary on their own images, offering vital insights into the meanings and symbols buried deep within Antonioni's photography. They help us to unpack the film - help us to understand how, in its own way, it's every bit the equal of Antonioni's most significant works.
Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Release