L'Eclisse (English: Eclipse) is a 1962 Italian drama film written and directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and starring Alain Delon and Monica Vitti. Filmed on location in Rome and Verona, L'Eclisse is about a young woman who breaks up with an older lover and then has an affair with a confident young stockbroker whose materialistic nature eventually undermines their relationship. The film is considered the last part of a trilogy which was preceded by L'Avventura (1960) and La Notte (1961). InMartin Scorsese's documentary My Voyage to Italy, the director called L'Eclisse the boldest film in Antonioni's trilogy. L'Eclisse won the Special Jury Prize at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Palme d'Or.
At dawn on Monday 10 July 1961, a young literary translator, Vittoria (Monica Vitti), breaks off her relationship with Riccardo (Francisco Rabal) in his apartment in theEUR residential district of Rome, following a long night of conversation. Riccardo tries to persuade her to stay, saying he wants to make her happy, but she turns out the lights in his apartment, tells him she no longer loves him, and leaves. As she walks the deserted early-morning streets past the EUR water tower, Riccardo catches up and walks with her through a wooded area to her apartment building at 307 Viale dell'Umanesimo, where they say their final goodbyes.
Sometime later, Vittoria visits her mother (Lilla Brignone) at the Rome Stock Exchange. Observers and investors look on nervously as the traders rush about gesturing wildly and making their trades. A young stockbroker, Piero (Alain Delon), overhears an inside tip, rushes to purchase the stocks, and then sells them at a large profit. Piero introduces himself to Vittoria; he is her mother's stock broker. All activity comes to a halt as an announcement is made requesting a moment of silence for a colleague who died recently of a heart attack. Phones continue during the silence. Following the moment of silence, the room erupts in frenzied activity again. Outside the Stock Exchange Building, Vittoria and her mother walk to a nearby open market. Vittoria tries to tell her about her failed relationship, but her mother is preoccupied with the profits she just earned and her food shopping.
That evening, Vittoria's neighbor Anita (Rosanna Rory) comes to visit and they discuss the breakup. Vittoria says, "I'm so tired and depressed. Disgusted and confused." Another neighbor, Marta (Mirella Ricciardi), calls and invites them to her apartment nearby. Marta talks about the farm she and her husband have in Kenya, and how beautiful it is there. Deciding to have a little fun, Vittoria dresses up as an African dancer with dark makeup, and then dances around the apartment. Marta, however, is not amused and asks Vittoria to stop. The conversation becomes ugly as the colonialist Marta talks about the "monkeys" who are arming themselves and threatening the minority whites. Vittoria and Anita dismiss the talk, and after Marta's dog Zeus gets free of the house, the women take off after him. Vittoria is fascinated by the sound of the fencing in the wind. Back in her apartment, Riccardo calls for her, but she hides and does not answer him.
The next day, Vittoria and Anita fly to Verona in a small airplane. On the way, Vittoria is fascinated by the clouds. At the airport, she watches the airplanes taking off and landing with childlike wonder. "It's so nice here," she tells Anita. Meanwhile back at the Rome Stock Exchange, Piero is busy making trades. Vittoria arrives at the Stock Exchange and learns that her mother lost about ten million lire. Another man lost fifty million. Vittoria follows the man through the crowded streets to a small cafe, where she sees him drawing flowers on a small piece of paper and drinking mineral water before moving on. She meets up with Piero and he drives her to her mother's apartment in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta sportscar. She shows him framed family pictures and her room growing up. Piero tries to kiss her but she avoids his pass. Piero drives back to his office on Via Po near Via Salaria, where he must break the bad news to his investors.
After work outside his office, Piero meets with a call girl he previously arranged to meet, but is disappointed that she recently changed her hair color from blonde to brunette. Deciding not to go with her, Piero drives to Vittoria's apartment and stands outside her window. He hears her typing. After a drunk walks by and notices Vittoria at the window, Piero comes over. While they are talking, the drunk steals Piero's sportscar. The next morning, Piero and Vittoria arrive at the crash site where the drunk drove the car into a lake. Vittoria watches as they pull the car with the body from the water. As they walk away, Vittoria is surprised that Piero is concerned about the dents and the motor, rather than the dead man. They enjoy a playful walk through a park. When they reach her building, Vittoria unties a balloon from a carriage and calling to her new friend Marta tells her to shoot the balloon, which she does as it ascends into the sky. When they reach her building, he kisses her, but she seems uneasy. Before she leaves, she drops a piece of wood into a barrel of water.
That evening, Vittoria tries to call Piero, but his phone is busy. When she finally reaches him, she does not speak. The next day, while waiting outside near her house, Vittoria looks in the barrel of water and sees the wood is still there. Piero arrives and tells her he bought a new BMW to replace his Alfa Romeo. She asks to go to his place. They walk past a nurse wheeling a young girl in a baby carriage. Piero takes her to his parents' apartment, which is filled with beautiful works of art and sculpture. As they talk, she seems nervous and unwilling to open up to him: "Two people shouldn't know each other too well if they want to fall in love. But then maybe they shouldn't fall in love at all." They converse playfully, kiss each other through a glass window, and then kiss passionately. After he accidentally tears her dress, she goes into a bedroom and looks at the old family pictures. At the window she looks down to the street where she sees two nuns walking, some people talking at a cafe, a lone soldier standing on a corner waiting. Piero comes to the bedroom and they make love.
Sometime later, Piero and Vittoria are lying on a hill looking up at the sky. He looks around and says, "I feel like I'm in a foreign country." She says that's how she feels around him. He gets upset when he doesn't understand what she's feeling. She says, "I wish I didn't love you or that I loved you much more." Sometime later at his office, Vittoria and Piero kiss and embrace playfully on the coach, even wrestling on the floor like children. When an alarm goes off, they prepare to part. They embrace and talk of seeing each other every day. They agree to meet that evening at 8:00 pm at the "usual place" near her apartment. That evening, on Sunday 10 September 1961, neither shows up at the appointed meeting place.
- Alain Delon as Piero
- Monica Vitti as Vittoria
- Francisco Rabal as Riccardo
- Louis Seigner as Ercoli
- Lilla Brignone as Vittoria's Mother
- Rosanna Rory as Anita
- Mirella Ricciardi as Marta
- Filming locations
- Rome Stock Exchange, Rome, Lazio, Italy
- Rome, Lazio, Italy
- Verona, Veneto, Italy
- Awards and nominations
Director Martin Scorsese, in his documentary about Italian films, My Voyage to Italy, describes how the film haunted and inspired him as a young moviegoer, noting it seemed to him a "step forward in storytelling" and "felt less like a story and more like a poem." He adds that the ending is "a frightening way to end a film... but at the time it also felt liberating. The final seven minutes of L'Eclisse suggested to us that the possibilities in cinema were absolutely limitless."