One of Antonioni’s main themes throughout all three films is emotional isolation. In L’Avventura Monica Vitti is looking for her lost friend with the friend’s boyfriend and only Vitti seems worried and/or concerned about her friend. In La Notte it’s Jeanne Moreau as the troubled wife who is feeling the isolation from her husband and society.
Here in L’Eclisse Monica Vitti is back as the main character, a young woman who breaks off her relationship with an older man, Francisco Rabal. Rabal is still in love with her but Vitti says she no longer is. Vitti wanders the city, drifting into meetings with her mother, friends and eventually she meets Alain Delon, a young stockbroker, who tries to win her over. Vitti finds that Delon is more interested in the material aspects of life and she finds herself disenchanted and isolated from the world around her and with Delon.
Critics like Jonathan Rosenbaum and Martin Scorsese in his documentary My Voyage to Italy have called the film the boldest out of the trilogy. If the first two films felt slow, aimless and at times pointless to people then L’Ec;isse is the worst out of three for this. The first two movies at least had a partial plot driving the film at least a little bit. L’Eclisse doesn’t even have that. Monica Vitti just sort of wanders around Rome for two hours eventually kind of, sort of hooking up with Alain Delon and then doesn’t. The last seven minutes of the film confused American film distributors so some of them just cut the last seven minutes out when they screened the film in the sixties.
Antonioni even apologized for the ending in his latest years saying he overindulged but I think that’s a mistake on Antonioni’s part. Never apologize for your art. And I think the ending works in this film. Is everyone going to like it, no! But tough, not all cinema needs to conform or to be liked and appreciating a work of art isn’t the same as enjoying it. The film has a statement about modern society that is still relevant today and I appreciate it as a work of art from Michelangelo Antonioni.