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Sick Eros: Antonioni's Films Display Outdated Morals

769 words - 4 pages

The older generation in America was taught to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but the younger generation knows it does not work. How can they trust strangers after hearing about murders, rapes, kidnappings, shootings, robberies, and gangs? Yet their behavior is dictated by the benefit of the doubt when daters only think about leaving horrible or awkward dates, and ignore uneasy feelings about being alone with a stranger in an elevator. Filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni has a broader claim. He argues morality, specifically in marriage, is outdated. Since man continues to use obsolete morals, however, he is unable to find happiness. Antonioni explores morality's harmful role in marriages in his films: La Notte and Red Desert. He articulates his belief when he writes, "…Eros is sick; man is uneasy, something is bothering him And whenever something bothers him, man reacts, but he reacts badly, only on erotic impulse, and he is unhappy" (Antonioni 34). What moral then does Antonioni argue destroys marriages? He does not directly state a specific moral, but I argue it is the structure of marriage and the societal hatred of divorce and infidelity.
Marriage in ancient civilizations and until the twentieth century was an arraignment made between two families to gain a political and social benefits. One reason divorce and infidelity were prohibited was to ensure families could not lose those benefits. Instead of developing a different system to join two people together, intimacy became another basis for marriage, but divorce and infidelity were still social taboos. Marriage was not structurally built to provide eternal intimacy and those who uses the escapes of divorce and infidelity were punished to be social outcasts.
Antonioni started asking marriages structure with the married couple Lidia and Giovanni in La Notte. Immediately, the viewer is exposed to the marriage's faults when Giovanni accepts the advances of the sick woman in the hospital. She appears to Giovanni without a sound, pulling him into her embrace of clinging arms and biting teeth. Her billowing black dress both seduces and frightens the viewer as Giovanni follows her into her hospital room. He attempts to make love to her, but two nurses prevent the affair and begin beating the woman. Embarrassed, Giovanni leaves only to see his wife outside the sick girl's door. Lidia...

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