Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Anna's father--Renzo Ricci
Gloria Perkins--DOrothy De Poliolo
Rates as a must see
BigSofa was scarcely dry from its beach appearance in "400 Blows" when it received a call to appear on an island splashed with waves in Antonioni's "L'Avventura".
The back cover of the Grover Press publication of the filmscript gives a brief synopsis. "Set among the wealthy and bored industrial elite of Italy's postwar 'boom,' the story concerns the mysterious disappearance of a young woman, and, after a half-hearted search, the emergence of an uncertain and destructive love affair between her lover and her best friend."
Ah, an Italian love story! The Bigsofa anticipated sweaty romps on its cushions. But though lovemaking occurs on a sofa in the film, it was not to be on the BigSofa.
The BigSofa makes two appearances in the film. The first is a scene which takes place right after Anna has disappeared. She and some friends are on a yacht that stops at an island. Anna and her boyfriend, Sandro, have a fight. Next thing we know, Anna has disappeared. Someone mentions having heard a boat. A search is made of the island; Anna is not to be found.
BigSofa's appearance in the background, without explanation given in the film, actually presages Antonioni's "Blow-up", in which a photographer accidentally takes a picture of an apparent murder without realizing it. He doesn't suspect anything out of the ordinary until efforts are made to take the film from him. It is then that he wonders what might be on the film, sees something suspicious, makes a blow-up, and there way in the background is the dead body.
Antonioni had yet, in "L'Avventura" to happen upon the idea of pursuing symbol and metaphor in the minutest grains of celluloid. He was brazenly obvious about it, though whether as a stylistic device or a lack of subtlety one can only guess.
As mentioned, the BigSofa appears only twice. In the above scene, soon after Anna has disappeared, and then at the very end of the film. Before Anna disappeared, she gave Claudia a blouse of hers. The suggestion is that Claudia is trying on "Anna" for a while. After Anna disappears, Claudia and Sandro eventually have an affair. Sandro says they should marry. Guilt-ridden, Claudia insists that they continue to look again for Anna. Their travels lead them to a town where someone suggests they try a house of prostitution where all the "foreign" girls end up.
Sandro then cheats on Claudia with a steamy, up-and-coming "actress" who says she is also a medium for dead writers. Just prior to Claudia stumbling upon them, she has confessed to a friend that she feels Anna has returned, she can feel Sandro with her. She initially had wanted to die herself when she thought Anna was dead, but now she fears she is alive.
Claudia comes upon Sandro and the brunette actress in a cuddle on a couch (Anna was brunette). She runs out of the room. When Sandro stands to follow her the actress asks for a "souvenir." Sandro tosses some money on the sofa. A medium close up shows it between her legs, on the sofa. She pulls the money toward her with her feet.
Claudia has fled away from the hotel and across a large open square. She stops at a railing. There is a bench. Sandro follows, sits down on the bench, and weeps. Claudia gently caresses his hair. The BigSofa, which was seen in the background initially, is now shown up front, right in front of the camera.
The meaning is obvious. The BigSofa could not be the sofa upon which Sandro made love to Gloria, the actress. That sofa represented Sandro's separation from Claudia, his relationship with Anna and all sensual women in general.
The BigSofa represents Sandro and Claudia's relationship, and their relationship to Anna, which only now becomes understood to them both, as well as to the audience. They, of course, could not sit upon the sofa, because it isn't really there. It is a symbol. And, the "blow-up" amongst the boomers having occurred, it instructs also on false perspective, for the sofa was as large on the island as it is in this frame. The sofa has not grown any bigger. It was never any smaller. It is the same size as it has always been.
Copyright © 2000 Idyllopus