As the film unfolds the couple flirts with other people at a party given by a billionaire. Both are aware of the other's flirtations. When they hear of the death of their friend Tommaso the woman tells her husband that she no longer loves him. But Giovanni reassures her that they are in love and can make their marriage work. La Notte ends with Lydia reading out a love letter that Giovanni wrote to her just before they got married. However, she cannot remember it.
This film leaves one with a feeling of emptiness and a sense of a journey that has led nowhere. There is a strong feeling of existential crises and the breakdown of communications and relationships in the film. This film can perhaps best be understood in terms of mood structure and in the creation of a certain atmosphere, rather than in looking for a conventional narrative and plot.
This is possibly one of the most intriguing and interesting films that I have ever seen. Once one moves away from the desire to understand the film conventionally an entirely different perception of the artistic depth of the film becomes possible. It is intended by the director more as a "mood piece" and the design, images and cinematography create an elusive and intangible atmosphere that becomes extremely absorbing. There is also a strong sense of impermanence and instability generated by the film -- as if the characters are on the verge of some solution or revelation that never quite happens. There is in fact no resolution in this film that one normally finds in conventional narratological films.
6. Contempt (1963)
This film by Jean-Luc Godard is essentially about the end of a marriage. Camille falls out of love with her husband Paul. The husband upsets his wife by taking on work for a rather egotistical American producer. On the other hand it is a complex work with many levels of meaning a number in interesting themes.
It is also a film that deals with the theme of the end of artistic era, when artistic integrity is replaced by commercialism. This is evident in the film when the main character is asked to change the script for a new film version of the Odyssey. The central conflicts in the film can therefore be summarized as the tension that exists between the screenwriter who is torn between the traditional artistic demands of a European director and a crude and arrogant American producer in his rewriting of the script. This conflict is reflected in the antagonism and fighting between husband and wife.
In a sense this film deals with the theme of film-making and the end of an era in the industry when commercialism becomes more important than art. This is linked to the decline and dissolution of the marriage; which is echoed in the end of the era of classical Hollywood film-making.
Possibly the central theme that underlies the entire film is the problem of being true to oneself. The film raises the question; how can one be true to one's sense of integrity and identity and be commercial at the same time?
Another aspect that should be noted is the mood of isolation that pervades the film. This is archived by means of a number of devices -- including the score and the sparse decor of the apartments.
7. The Conformist ( 1970)
The Conformist is an Italian film (1970) directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. The screenplay was written by Bertolucci based on the novel the Conformist (1951) by Alberto Moravia. It is also political in terms of its main theme of conformity.
There are two central themes that I can discern in this film. The first is, as the title suggests, the issue of conformity. The film takes place in fascist Italy and the central character conforms to the tenets and the dominant fascist ideology of the time. The second theme is linked but is also pervasive -- this is the relationship between sex and violence.
The theme of conformity is boldly explored in the depiction of the central character, Marcello Clerici. He is also depicted as a coward who has no strength of character but is only concerned with being accepted by the group. He even kills someone at the behest of the Fascist government -- even though this person is his college mentor.
One of the striking things about this film from a personal point-of-view is that it made me aware not only of the dangers of conformity but also the value of its opposite -- the need to be an individual and to believe in one's own views even in the face of pressure to conform. .
I found the film to be depressing and enlightening at the same time. One cannot help but despise the main character for his actions but one also has possibly to take into account his background and his distorted and dysfunctional family. In essence the film is a study of an individual who is prepared to give up his individuality in order to conform and be accepted by the dominant group or ideology of the day.
Another facet of the film that was impressive was the way that it suggested the atmosphere of fascist Italy at the time. The film is visually appealing and builds an atmosphere that is palpable. There is also a sexual undertow that adds to the sense of moral depravity in the film. There is the suggestion of a link between sex and violence in the film and this is augmented by the apparent homosexuality of the main character. The film is redolent with images of decay and decadence. This is suggested by reference to the protagonist's morphine addicted mother and insane father
8. That obscure object of desire (1997)
That Obscure Object of Desire is a film set in Spain and France, the action plays out and set against a background of terrorist activity. The film was directed in 1977 by Luis Bunuel. The plot revolves around an elderly man who falls in love with a much younger woman. He is however frustrated both in terms of love and sexual desire. The plot is also about dysfunctional relationships and the interaction between the two main characters is often violent.
One of the fascinating aspects of this film is the portrayal of character. The female lead, the young and fiery Conchita, is unpredictable in her behavior. There is also a great deal of mystery about her character and, from a personal point-of-view, this is one of the appealing aspects of the film. I found that the film tended to create a sense of mystery about human relationships and the complexity of their functioning, which was extremely interesting and appealing.
Another aspect of the films that was different and artistically intriguing was the way that it begins. The story begins with a violent altercation between the elderly man, Mathieu, and Conchita at a railway station. Mathieu pours a bucket of water over her head. This action is observed by a number of people on the train, including a dwarf psychologist. Even the subsidiary characters add a sense of surreal mystery to the film. From the start of this dramatic introduction the story is narrated by the main male character as he tells the others about the explosive but romantic relationship between himself and Conchita.
The film is also very subtly directed. The background of terrorism is not simply incidental but is in fact an integral part of the thematic structure of the film. It acts as reference point to the relationship and is also a symbolic underpinning to the fiery but deeply romantic relationship between the two main characters.
One of the central themes is unrequited and unfulfilled love, which flows throughout the film. Conchita taunts the older man sexually and does not allow him to satisfy his sexual desires. She even comes to bed wearing a form of corset that makes sexual intimacy impossible. This leads to a series of breakups between the two -- but they always tend to be reunited.
Eventually Conchita tells Mathieu that she despises him and openly makes lover to another man to emphasize her point. This leads to further altercations and unifications. At the end of the film they both walk away hand in hand but a terrorist bomb explodes in their vicinity and the suggestion is that they are both killed.
In my opinion this film explores the dark side of human desire. It is saved from being depressing by…