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Sick Eros: Antonioni's Films Display Outdated Morals

1943 words - 8 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 He argues morality, specifically in marriage, is outdated.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 ...view middle of the document...

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 spares him the humiliation and enters the elevator without saying a word. The hospitalized woman represents Giovanni and Lidia's marriage. Their relationship, like the woman, is hovering on the cliff of death. Giovanni's amorous feelings and fidelity to Lidia were lost during the course of time and only his fear of a failed marriage tie him to her, similar to the woman who only functions on her basic instincts. Intimacy− the goal of this relationship−disappeared, leaving only the stark, cold truth and humiliating embarrassment. In addition, the hospital mirrors the life of Lidia and Giovanni. Similar to the nurse who keep the sick girl alive, Lidia and Giovanni sustain their marriage but do not nourish it. They keep it from perishing because they are hanging on past memories.
Although Lidia does not express her dissatisfaction as outwardly as Giovanni does, Lidia is equally unhappy. After her husband's book signing, Lidia wanders aimlessly in the Milan streets. The clean, modern buildings slowly transform into dilapidated and old houses, while the crowds gradually disappear. Easily, the viewers notice the houses' former grand nature in its sweeping arches, wide windows and elaborate design. In the neighborhood, Lidia finds a crying, lonely child, but since she cannot comfort him, she leaves. The old houses are Lidia and Giovanni's past happiness that has decayed to the point that it is inhospitable. Meanwhile, the child functions as a dual symbol. He vocalizes Lidia's internal anguish and gives a physical image to Antonion's "sick Eros." In Greek mythology, Eros is the child of Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, and is depicted as a baby. Antonioni's "Eros" is crying in the ruin of marriage, and begging for a loving savior. Man, like Lidia, abandons him to suffer because they do not know what Eros need, and possibly do not want to know.
Unlike her husband, however, Lidia does find intimacy. Roberto gives Lidia everything she craves. He looks at her with lust in his eyes, as if he wants to devour her, and listens to her thoughts. He stops her impulsive behavior when she tries to jump into the pool with an oncoming storm, and most importantly, he is a physical and emotional escape from her marriage. While sheltered from the pouring rain in Roberto's car, he tries to kiss her. Lidia stops him because she remembers the woman calling her a "slut" at the beginning of the party and is reminded of the expectations of fidelity. The pouring rain is the far-reaching pressure society exerts on Lidia to obey their expectations. Yet when Lidia denies herself...

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