Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Michelangelo Antonioni: Il Grido (Take I)

Michelangelo Antonioni's Il Grido (1957) spotlights a fleeting period in modern life. Here, the setting is along the Po River valley in northern Italy less than twelve years after the end of the Second World War. A lot is going on in the background. There's painful recovery from the mass destruction and dislocation of war. And there's new mechanization, encroaching corporate development, evident transition from agrarian ecology to industrialization. Displacement. Wandering people, and people attached to villages and farms even as they are being upstaged by petrol stations, trucks moving up and down the main pre-superhighway transporation routes, speedboats racing in the river, airplanes droning overhead. The poor, for the most part, remain poor, scrounging from day to day and week to week.

Traditional delivery continues apace. We see a woman come by a house and sell a handful of fresh eggs from a basket, and a man delivers fresh milk, ladles it into a pot for heating up. Men work at a local sugar refinery in the first town we see, a transitional industry not yet fully automated. Food is hand-picked at the local market, in small towns that have one. A raised handmade flag on a stick signals for a passing doctor to stop and make a housecall. "It's just malaria," he says. It's a world away from today's "West," these black and white scenes from Italy in the 1950s, and it's astonishing to see.

Today's Rune: Protection.         

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

that bottom pic. The guy looks so like Elvis, to me. But yes, period pieces like this can really be an education.