Italian actress Monica Vitti, “antidiva” and muse of Antonioni, died at the age of 90

Monica Vitti in 1965 (Getty Images)

Monica Vittipassed away on Wednesday at the age of 90, She was one of Italy’s most beloved actresseswith dozens of films for cinema and television in which she goes from more purely “all’italiana” comedy to intellectual cinema as Antonioni’s muse.

Goodbye Monica Vitti, goodbye to the queen of Italian cinema. Today is a really sad day, a great artist and a great Italian industrywrote that country’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, in a statement after recalling her long acting career, both comic and dramatic.

The actress had stayed out of the spotlight for the past two decades due to a degenerative disease.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Born in fascist Rome in 1931, she fell in love with theater as her country sank into World War II. His first decision was to choose a stage name since hers, Maria Luisa Ceciarelli, was difficult to pronounce and above all to remember.

Her stage debut came at the age of 14, playing an old woman with a white wig in the play “La Nemica” (1916), and that night ended with applause from the audience and the blessing from critics.

His career took off thanks to his comic appearance, his intense and mysterious gaze, his blond hair and his tone of voice.features which gave a different color to the classics of Shakespeare, Molière or Brecht and which ended up seduce the great filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni.

What began as a friendship turned into love and later into a prolific artistic relationship, since it was Antonioni who introduced her to the most intellectual cinema, counting on her for the first time in “The Scream(1957), as a voice actor for the character of Dorian Gray.

Later will come his most memorable roles, especially for the one known as “solitary confinement trilogy» : « L’Aventure » (1960) – his debut in Cannes -, « La Nuit » (1961) and « L’Eclipse » (1962), a mosaic of feelings and silences with which he arrives abroad.

Italian cinema left behind the neorealism that prevailed after the Second World War and entered into something new, more intimate, and Vitti was at the forefront of this avant-garde which set aside the popular to focus on the bourgeoisie.

That’s how it happened”The desert red(1964) and the Golden Lion to Antonioni, who publicly acknowledged his companion’s influence on his acclaimed work before the Venice jury.

Italian actress Monica Vitti during her stay in San Sebastian for the XVI International Film Festival in 1968 (EFE)
Italian actress Monica Vitti during her stay in San Sebastian for the XVI International Film Festival in 1968 (EFE)

At the end of the 1960s, however, the actress devoted herself body and soul to a genre for which she was particularly gifted, the comedy “all’italiana”, putting the public in her pocket.

Vitti entertained audiences with tapes like “The ragazza with the gun(1968), by Mario Monicelli; “The Demon of Jealousy(1970) by Ettore Scola, andthe chastity belt» (1967) or «my love help me(1969), by Alberto Sordi, with whom he would forge an eternal friendship.

The actress, until recently representative of the most profound and committed cinema, now makes people laugh, separating her image from that of other divas of the seventh Italian art like Gina Lollobrigida or Sophia Loren, who had already had her first Oscar for “Two Women” (1960).

However until then Monica Vitti She was the only woman capable of following, if not eclipsing, the so-called “five colonels” of Italian cinema, the most admired actors: Vittorio Gassman, Ugo Tognazzi, Nino Manfredi, Marcello Mastroianni and Sordi.

This has traditionally raised him as emblem of the autonomous and emancipated woman. Just think that he lived his great loves without getting married at a time when going through the altar was almost obligatory and that he only did it in 2000 to join Roberto Russo.

One of the photographs presented in the exhibition
One of the photographs exhibited as part of the exhibition “”La dolce Vitti”” on actress Monica Vitti in an archive photo. EFE/Riccardo Antimiani

In 1974, he played in “The Phantom of Liberty” by Luis Buñuel and in 1980, he returned to Antonioni’s orders in “The Mystery of Oberwald”, a rare television adaptation of the play “The Two-Headed Eagle (1946) by Jean Cocteau.

After reigning on Italian screens for decades and dozens of titles, Vitti was encouraged to make his directorial debut with “Scandalo segreto” (1990), but soon suffered a painful setback, the burning of his Roman house and the loss of many of his memories.

With the new millennium, the actress, who in recent years had devoted herself to teach young performers at the Academy of Rome, where she started, retired due to a degenerative disease still jealously guarded by those around her and by the whole country, which does not hide her devotion to this “anti-diva” of the golden years of his cinema.

(With information from EFE/By Gonzalo Sánchez)


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