Archives for category: Identity

Stroszek (1977)

“The quest for meaning on earth is futile. Man is unable to feel that he belongs on this planet, which is his home. And yet the mind continues to thirst after God as the symbol of ultimate meaning, regardless of the fact that objectively no hint of purpose could be discerned. Man seeks to control his fate but his unconscious pulls him in different directions and frustrates his effort to impose order upon the chaotic flux of experience. There, in the unconscious, slumber the archetypal images of the gods, the gods who foil all attempts at the conscious governance of human destiny.” (Charles Glicksberg, The Tragic Vision in Twentieth Century Literature, SIU Press, 1963, p. 93)

The primary notion of nihilism, existential nihilism or the belief that life is meaningless, can be an outcome of an individual’s own crisis of identity, especially if that identity is grounded in an organization, group, or another individual. This is the case with Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte, the second film in what is considered his trilogy of solitude, which also includes L’Avventura (1960) and L’Eclisse (1962). La Notte is the only one of those films not released as part of the Criterion Collection, which is unfortunate, considering the current version of the DVD contains no extras or essays within the case art. La Notte is the tightest of the three films and contains the closest to a traditional narrative of all three. The tone of La Notte harbors the same bleakness as the rest of the trilogy as it explores the issues of identity and meaning within an existing relationship.

Lidia outside the hospital

La Notte‘s story centers around Marcello Mastroianni’s character of Giovanni, a successful writer who has recently published a new book. His wife, Lidia (Jeanne Moreau), provides mere window dressing for Giovanni in the beginning of the film. When they visit a dying friend named Tommaso in the hospital, Lidia remains aloof in the hospital room, refusing to sit and join her husband and Tommaso in a celebratory drink of champagne. Lidia’s distance in the hospital room seems to indicate that Giovanni was the closer friend to Tommaso, but when Lidia leaves the room on short notice and is outside the hospital, her feelings overcome her. This shifts the film toward her as the main character. Read the rest of this entry »