The Lady Without Camelias (1953)


La signora senza camelie could also be translated as “Melodrama and Film Sets”. Antonioni’s scathing takedown of the Italian film industry follows an actress called Clara (Lucia Bosé) as she navigates a world of seedy moviemakers and greedy agents, exclusively personified by possessive men. Antonioni breaks the neo-realist mould as his knack for complex, isolating master shots frequently rears its head. The film begins tracking behind Clara as she enters a theatre, only to see her own film playing on the big screen therefore the first time we actually see her face is on that screen, projected twenty feet high. It all comes full circle by the end as we find Clara broken and compromised by the industry, culminating in a loaded final shot as she struggles to force a smile for the pack of wolf-like paparazzi feverishly snapping her photo. This is a more directly humane affair from Antonioni but even this early you can see his interest in conventional film language becoming distant, his shots getting wider and wider to convey disconnect in the spaces between his actors.

Watched on Eureka Masters of Cinema blu-ray.

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