A rare male melodrama from a director known for his collaborations with beautiful women, Il grido is a fascinating link in the career of Michelangelo Antonioni, marking his transition from the neorealist impulses expressed in his early features and documentaries of the 1950s toward the more precise and rarified personal approach of such classic works as L’avventura (1960), La notte (1961) and Red Desert (1964). Shot in Antonioni’s native Po Valley region, Il grido uniquely focuses on a working class protagonist rather than the bourgeoisie of his later films. The story concerns Aldo (Steve Cochran), a refinery mechanic who, unable or unwilling to commit to his long-term affair with a married woman (Alida Valli), escapes his dreary job and life in his hometown and travels the countryside searching for something different and more fulfilling. The episodic narrative finds him traveling from the arms of one woman to another with only fleeting satisfaction: the home of an old flame (Betsy Blair), a brief life living with a lonely widow (Dorian Gray) running a filling station, and the comfort of a prostitute (Lyn Shaw) living in a dilapidated and impoverished fishing shanty town. A precursor of the alienated wanderers so key to Antonioni’s later, better known work, Aldo lives in and passes through an unfriendly but eerily beautiful landscape, formed by alien images of stern, solitary tree lines, abstract clusters of giant spool wheels, a random river boat race, and empty roadsides. Connecting the neorealist emphasis on actual locations tied to specific social and economic realities with a modern look at the estrangement, hostility, and dissatisfaction found in such an environment, Il grido stands as one of Antonioni’s best works, and one that powerfully unites the famed socially conscious works of the immediate Italian post-war period with the flourishing fame of Italian art-house auteurs in the 1960s.
Michelangelo Antonioni once described his work as “archeological research” which sifted through “the arid remains of our times”. If Fellini claimed to treat the past as science fiction, Antonioni gazed deeply into the future already visible in the present (L’Eclisse) or a past which uneasily hung onto a present that had outlived it (L’Avventura). Born in an upper-middle class family in Ferrara in 1912; Antonioni studied economics at the University of Bologna, where he staged works by Luigi Pirandello as well as original work written by himself. Antonioni’s time as a film critic for the Roman Cinema magazine brought him in contact with Cesare Zavattini, Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti and others. For Rossellini, he would co-write Un pilota ritorna and with Fellini, he collaborated on the screenplay of his first feature The White Shiek.
Antonioni, however, yearned to begin his own career in film. To this end, he enrolled at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinemografia… read more
Neo-realist content springs into the elegant set-ups and camerawork of Antonioni's later career, complete with the landscapes and architecture brimming behind the characters, telling its own story. From the moment Aldo returns home from his wandering the movie becomes text-book Antonioni. --PolarisDiB
Critic-filmmaker Luc Moullet pens a provocative, previously unpublished take on the difference between the B&W and color work of Antonioni.