Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

L'Avventura (1960)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

L'Avventura (1960, It./Fr.) (aka The Adventure)

In Michelangelo Antonioni's slow-moving mystery drama, often criticized as contrived or pretentious, but also acclaimed as a post-war modern masterpiece - the first part of a trilogy, followed by La Notte (1961, It./Fr.) (aka The Night) and L'Eclisse (1962, It./Fr.) (aka The Eclipse) - it told about an inconclusive search for something missing (similar in theme to Blow-Up (1966, UK), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975, Australia) and A Passage to India (1984, UK/US)) - and the nihilistic nature of transitory existence and ultimate emotional and spiritual detachment:

  • the film's main starting point: a yacht trip taken by bored, discontented, idle-rich, upper-class Italians to a deserted and barren volcanic island (Lisca Bianca, one of the Aeolians north of Sicily) in the Mediterranean (a metaphor for the lives of the characters); the travelers included dark-haired Anna (Lea Massari), the possibly-suicidal, attention-seeking daughter of an ex-Roman diplomat, Anna's self-absorbed, womanizing fiancee-boyfriend - self-indulgent architect Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti), and Anna's lower-class, shy, blonde best friend Claudia (Monica Vitti)
  • the quarreling argument between Sandro and Anna on the jagged shore of the remote island reflected their relationship issues and a growing rift between them; she dismissed their marriage plans and claimed that he didn't seem serious about marrying her anymore - implying that he couldn't commit - and that they were already an unhappily 'married' couple; he replied: "Why should we be here talking, arguing? Believe me, Anna, words are becoming less and less necessary; they create misunderstandings" - she wanted to be left alone at that moment - and suggested that they might become separated even longer in the future -- and then, she inexplicably vanished
  • the search for the missing Anna (the film's MacGuffin) - absent for most of the film although very much present - who suddenly disappeared under mysterious circumstances - she might have committed suicide by jumping or was the accidental victim of the menacing waters (a void of waves and rocks) surrounding the island if she had fallen; or did she escape the island freely, or was she possibly abducted?
  • the growing tenuous, brooding and half-hearted romance that developed between the non-grieving couple, Sandro and Claudia during their search for the almost-forgotten Anna - especially his first unexpected, impetuous sudden kiss of her on the boat
  • Sandro's shallow and aimless description of himself after making career compromises and sacrificing his ideals: "It's strange but I never thought I'd be rich. I saw myself living in a rooming house, full of geniuses. Instead, I have two apartments, one in Rome and one in Milan. As far as genius goes, it's a habit I've never formed"
  • in the enigmatic, virtually dialogue-less conclusion, Claudia's shocked discovery that Sandro was cheating on her after a late-night party held in the San Domenico Palace in Sicily; to find him, she ran down cavernous corridors and through rooms frantically looking for him, and ultimately located him on a couch in an empty lounge - having sex with aspiring starlet Gloria Perkins (Dorothy de Poliolo) - a high-class call-girl; distressed, Claudia turned and fled, and ran outside to a plaza or terrace next to the street, as the prostitute turned to Sandro and asked: "Won't you leave me a souvenir? Just a small souvenir" - he coldly tossed bills on the sofa next to her feet, which she gathered toward herself
  • in the next ambiguous part of the scene, Sandro followed Claudia outdoors, where he saw her completely heartbroken and emotionally crushed while standing next to a railing; the crestfallen, shamed Sandro walked over to a bench and slumped forward, exhibiting tears over his betrayal; Claudia slowly walked over to him, stood behind him, and after a long hesitation and some tentative indecision, she put her right hand on his hair on the back of his head to empathically caress and comfort him (and forgive him?), as the empty dawn arrived with a distant view of snowy Mount Etna
  • the carefully composed and choreographed final image: the screen was split with an expansive landscape and breast-shaped volcano on the left (representing Claudia), while a crumbling facade of a high stone wall was on the right (representing Sandro)
A Compassionate, Hopeful Final Gesture -
A Comforting Head Caress

Quarrel Between Anna and Fiancee-Boyfriend Sandro

Claudia - On Deserted Mediterranean Volcanic Island

Sandro Kissing Claudia

Claudia's Run In Palace Corridor

Claudia's Discovery of Sandro's Sex with Starlet Gloria

Bills Tossed on Sofa for Call-Girl


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z