Michelangelo Antonioni was an Italian director and screenwriter. He was born into a middle class family in Ferrara on September 29, 1912. He graduated in economics and business administration, but movies were his real passion. He began writing film criticism in the late 1930s. At 27 , Antonioni moved to Rome, where he worked with several directors including Roberto Rossellini. In 1942, he moved to France and worked as an assistant director with Marcel Carné on the film Les visiteurs du soir. Returning to Italy, he completed his first work, a documentary called People of the Po Valley [People of the Po Valley (1943)].
Antonioni worked on other documentaries following the end of World War Two. After several failed projects, he made his first feature-length film Story of a Love Affair [Story of a Love Affair (1950)]. In it, Antonioni broke all the neo-realist movie-making rules. He dispensed with telling postwar stories about the poor and destitute, focusing instead on the anxieties of a middle class couple.
He developed this aesthetic further in his next films, including The Cry [The Cry (1957)]. The Adventure [The Adventure (1960)], The Night [The Night (1961)] and Eclipse [Eclipse (1962)] formed a trilogy about social alienation, each one starring major actors. Antonioni portrayed lovers in deteriorating relationships who’d lost the ability to communicate with one another. As a director, he consciously used wide-open spaces to represent the way his characters had lost their bearings in life. In 1964 came The Red Desert [The Red Desert (1964)], in which Antonioni used color for the first time. As in his previous work, he featured the actress Monica Vitti, who was also his companion at the time. The film met with critical acclaim, winning prizes in Cannes, Berlin, and Venice. In 1966, he signed with American giant MGM to make three movies. The first was Blow-Up [Blow-Up (1966)], a complex reflection on viewpoints and the relationship between appearance and reality. Zabriskie Point [Zabriskie Point (1970)], his next film, entered movie lore for a scene in which a villa was destroyed and captured on film by 17 cameras. The last of his American movies was The Passenger [The Passenger (1975)], which amplified the existential theme until it became a literal loss of identity.
Returning to Italy, Antonioni focused on visual experimentation in The Mystery of Oberwald [(1980)] and revisited 1960s existentialism with Identification of a Woman [(1982)]. He also filmed commercials and video-clips. In 1985, at 73, he suffered a stroke, lost his speech, and was confined to a wheelchair. A decade later, he returned to movie making with the German director Wim Wenders. Their film was called Beyond the Clouds [(1995)]. He received an Academy Award for lifetime achievement the same year. His final work was The Dangerous Thread of Things, an episode within the collective film, Eros. [Eros (2004)] Michelangelo Antonioni died in Rome on July 30, 2007. He was 94. Gifted with poetic narrative vision, he is considered an unequivocal maestro in the history of international film.