d. Michelangelo Antonioni
Criterion Collection #98
I think it is pretty commonly accepted that there is a well trodden path between the avant garde and canonical status in the world of Art. Today's fringe Artist is tomorrow's Artist selling a work of art for twenty million dollars is next year's Artist being studied by students in school.
The other main path to an Artistic canon is having a huge Audience for a specific work and then either initially generating or later generating critical acclaim to accompany the popularity. Two main routes. L'Avventura is an interesting case of Audience reception of a work that begins as Avant Garde and ends up Canonized. Initially shown at Canned in 1960, the Audience booed and the Director and Star (Monica Vitti, va va va vooooom.) stormed out of the theater. Then, as the story goes, the film was shown a second time and ended up winning the special jury prize.
Watching L'Avventura today is like seeing what a half century of commercial art directors undoubtedly list as their favorite film. Antonioni's sneaky assault of the grammar of film making up to that point caught the Audience- even a highly educated audience like the one at Cannes, off guard, and it maintains that ability to discomfort till today. I had a rough time sitting through the whole film, though there were moments of beauty and of course Monica Vitti lights up the screen every time she does anything.
On the whole though I would argue that L'Avventura is a dark path for film: characters standing around, gazing into the sea. It's boring...on purpose, and that is a troubling development. Worth seeing for Monica Vitti though.