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Michelangelo Antonioni

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Michelangelo Antonioni director, screenwriter, editor, writer and painter, considered one of the greatest directors in film history.
Born in September 29,1912 into a middle-class family of landowners in Ferrara.
He studied economics and commerce at the university of Bologna, though he continued to live at home. He also began haunting the cinemas and writing film criticism for a newspaper in the neighbouring city of Padua.
In 1939 he moved to Rome to work as a secretary to Count Vittori Cini. The job didn’t last long. He worked as a bank teller and joined the staff of Cinema magazine, edited by Benito Mussolini’s son, Vittorio. During this period, Antonioni also spent some months studying directorship at  the Institute of Experimental Filmmaking.
He collaborated on the scripts of some major feature films, one of them Roberto Rossellini’s ”Pilota ritorna” (A Pilot Returns, 1942), and became assistant director of Marcel Carné  ”Les Visiteurs du soiree” ( The Devil’s Envoys. 1942).

In 1943, Antonioni returned to Ferrara and found a local merchant willing to bankroll his first film as a director, short documentary called Gente del Po (People of the Po Valley), about the wretched lives of local fishermen. Its completion was interrupted and the German occupying forces destroyed much of the footage, he could complete it only after the war was over.

All the while he became increasingly skeptical about the neo-realist movement, which dominated Italian filmmaking, and its relentless focus on substandard social conditions.
For a while Antonioni made his living by translating from the French; he then became film critic of the underground paper Italia libera (“Free Italy”) and continued making short documentaries.
In 1950 was ready for his most ambitious, non-documentary project, “Cronaca di un Amore” (Story of a Love), this movie marks the end of neorealism.
The film won the Grand Prix International at the Festival of Punta del Este in 1951 that established him as a talent to be watched.
The year after he directed ” I Vinti” (The Vanquished, 1952) screened out of competition at 1953 Venice Film Festival. The Lady Without Camelias (La signora senza camelie, 1953) considered Antonioni’s most unjustly neglected fiction feature.

His first big success was “Le Amiche” (The Girlfriends, 1955) based on a story by the Italian writer Cesare Pavese, received the Venice Film Festival Silver Lion Award.
Antonioni began experimenting more with improvisation on the set. He used this technique extensively in “Il Grido” (The Outcry, 1957). During the shooting Antonioni met a young stage actress named Monica Vitti, who would become his greatest and most enduring star, and his almost constant companion during much of the “60s.
The international success arrived with Antonioni’s masterpiece “L’Avventura” (The Adventure, 1960) is the first film of the trilogy on modernity and its discontents, followed by La Notte (The Night, 1961) tha won the Golden Bear at the 1961 Berlin Film Festival and Eclipse (The Eclipse, 1962).
His first color film, “Il deserto rosso” (The Red Desert, 1964).warded the Golden Lion at the 25th Venice Film Festival. The film deals with similar themes, and is sometimes considered the sequel of the “trilogy”
By the mid-’60s, Antonioni was one of the most famous and controversial film directors in the world and he signed a three-picture deal with MGM:
“Blow-Up” was Antonioni’s first entirely English-language film that became the director’s biggest hit. Following its commercial and critical success, Antonioni made his first big-budget film, “Zabriskie Point” (1970) about American Counterculture and chose the student protest movement as his subject, but the result was an overwhelming commercial failure and panned by most critics upon release.
Antonioni was devastated and, in many ways, his career never recovered completely.
Professione Reporter (1980), starring Jack Nicholson as a television reporter in Africa who assumes the identity of a dead stranger, was the greatest work of his maturity and recaptured some of his previous critical respect.
Following “The Passenger,” Antonioni announced he wanted to take some time to study new technologies and spent five years doing so, before Monica Vitti asked him to return to directing with a 1980 Italian television film called “Il Mistery di Oberwald” (The Mystery of Oberwald, 1981) awarded with a silver ribbon for visual effects at the 1980 Venice Film Festival. Followed the year after by “Identificazione di una donna” (Identification of a Woman, 1982) that won a Grand Prix at the Cannes festival that year.

In 1985, Antonioni suffered a stroke, which left him partly paralyzed and unable to speak. After the stroke, Antonioni worked on an Italian television documentary built around the 1990 World Cup soccer championship, and continued to make films, including Beyond the Clouds (1995), for which Wim Wenders filmed some scenes. As Wenders has explained, Antonioni rejected almost all the material filmed by Wenders during the editing, except for a few short interludes.
At the age of 91, he involved himself with two new projects. The first film, Michelangelo “Lo Sguardo di Michelangelo” (Eye to Eye,2004) was a 35-minute documentary, while “Eros” featured multiple segments directed by such auteurs as Antonioni, Steven Soderbergh, and Wong Kar-Wai. In 1995, Antonioni received an honorary Lifetime Achievement Academy Award. He passed away at the age of 94 on July 30, 2007, in Rome.


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