The love triangle in Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’avventura

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One of the best cinema directors in Italian history is Michelangelo Antonioni. After watching a Michelangelo Antonioni film, you'll undoubtedly seek out more of his work because of his distinctive, distinct, and in some ways contagious directing style. This director has the talent to present things in the way that suits them the best. L'avventura, a 1960s epic film about a love triangle involving three friends, Ana, Claudia, and Sandro, that culminates in tragedy in addition to being primarily a drama and romance picture, is one of the movies the director has directed. In this film, Antonioni is able to evaluate various roles that people have played in the issue, and presents multiple perspectives about a love triangle. The director portrays the story in such a fashion that it leaves the audience hooked to the screen. Love triangles between friends and lovers are some of the oldest obstacles to true romance and real friendship as is evidenced by the story between Anna, Claudia, and Sandro.

Plot Overview

The story begins at Sandro’s house where Claudia is waiting downstairs while Sandro makes love to Anna. The three go to the coast, where they meet two other couples and set sail in a yacht on an adventure. During the Yachting experience, Sandro and Anna get into an unresolved conflict whereby she complains about Sandro’s long business trips, but using his usual tactic, Sandro avoids the confrontation issue altogether. When they go to the shore, Anna goes missing and no one can find her. Sandro argues that her disappearing is her typical behavior, and he does not even get bothered to look for her. Claudia is a good friend of Anna, and therefore she looks extensively for Anna, but with no avail. She ends up blaming Anna’s disappearance on Sandro, claiming that his neglect is responsible for her disappearance.

During the search for their Anna, they find no evidence showing of her existence. However, they call in the police and even to an extent, Anna’s father comes to look for Anna. He finds that Anna was reading two books mainly, Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald and that she also had a copy of the Holy Bible, which convinces him that she has not committed suicide. During the search, Sandro’s attraction for Claudia increases. When he finds her alone in the yacht, he kisses her tenderly, an action that scares off Claudia, as she has no idea how to interpret the kiss. Arguably, bearing in mind that her best friend was missing, it was rather inappropriate for her boyfriend to kiss Claudia, as another person might interpret it.

With Anna still missing, Claudia, although very much attracted to Sandro as well, chooses not to go through with their attraction, arguing that they need to sacrifice their attraction for later when Anna was found. Sandro, being the typical man, does not see the need for waiting and in real terms pursues her when she boards a train. Sandro is extremely daring and follows Claudia into the train and even boards it while its moving, just to show her how much he wants her. Regardless, Claudia pushes Sandro away since in her head, her friend was still missing, and Sandro did not appear to care as much about her whereabouts. Sandro appears overwhelmed by his desire for Claudia that he forgets for a moment that his current girlfriend is still missing. However, Sandro and Anna were not in the best of times when she went missing, and in his assumptions, this was a typical attention seeking behavior that Anna exhibited a lot, a factor that might have contributed to his utter lack of fear about her possible condition.

Sandro is a womanizer to a degree who easily gives in to the beauty of women as is evidenced by the incident whereby he met a 19-year-old journalist, Gloria Perkins, who was investigating the case of Anna’s disappearance. Sandro looked at the journalist in awe, having never seen such a beautiful woman in a while. It appears that no one has any interest in the disappearance of Anna, and the only person taking it seriously appears to be Claudia. Claudia and Sandro resume the search together following a trail of ideas and areas where they believe that Anna might be, only to find out that every detour they take end up with her not being present. The search only brings them closer and makes it harder for them to keep off each other leading them to make love on a hill overlooking a moving train. Claudia cannot decide between the feelings she has for Sandro and the friendship she has for Anna.

Throughout the journey, the two have their feelings growing and become stronger for each other and at one point, Sandro appears overtaken by his love for Claudia that he proposes to her, asking for her hand in marriage. Claudia refuses, declining the offer, citing that the situation was too complicated. This leaves Sandro confused in that to a degree, he wonders what Claudia wants. One evening she is pushing him away and the next she seems joyful and very in love. When Sandro tries to make love to Claudia again in the hotel, Claudia pushes him away and this only worsens Sandro’s feelings for her. The mixed signals she is sending are overwhelming to him. Sandor goes to a party without Claudia since the latter was too tired to go, where he meets the beautiful actress/journalist Gloria Perkins. They end up having some conversation and Claudia feels that Anna might be back and that Sandro would be with her and so she goes to the party. She busts in and finds Sandro having sex with Gloria Perkins on a sofa, which leaves her shuttered. The film ends with both of them crying next to each other holding each other closely, a scene that leaves the audience in suspense of what might have happened.


One of the key issues depicted by this film is the manner in which perfectly good relationships suddenly go bad and turn out to be some of the worst things. The story begins when Anna, Claudia, and Sandro, all take a holiday, and Anna and Sandro make love in the cabin where the three stay. The film uses subtle ways to show the director’s perspectives about the audience or the target audience of the film. Most movie critics criticized film in the 1960s for its lack of adherence to morality. However, Antonioni’s main intention was to target the audiences that were looking for adventure in sex and freedom, but the much freedom especially that Sandro enjoyed eventually ended up causing Anna and Claudia much pain and suffering.

While this film was highly criticized for its utter lack of morality in the 1960s, Antonioni was targeting a specific proportion of the society that was more liberal and deviant to societal norms. In the contemporary society, this film would be a hit, bearing in mind that the majority of the world now subscribes to similar thinking patterns as presented in this film. The search for adventure in sex and freedom in the society is one of the core traits that characterizes today’s millennials. Nonetheless, the core focus of this paper is not one the presentation or the question of morality but rather the effect of love triangles throughout the history of humanity on romance and friendship. Another form of adventure presented in the film is the yachting trip that was the source of all the drama and conflict. During its time of release, this film challenged most of the film conventions and this is what made it the most spectacular Italian film of the 1960s.

In this film, the main themes presented include sex, love, friendship, betrayal, and suspense. For a large part of the film, the main character, Anna, is missing. The film ends without informing the audience of the whereabouts of the character, Anna. Anna and Sandro were in love and they were inseparable. Claudia did not know at the time that she was attracted to Sandro at the same time he was dating her best friend. The film actually starts with Sandro and Anna making love in the same house as Claudia who is downstairs.

The main adventure was for the three of them. Claudia and Sandro’s platonic friendship at the beginning grows into a nearly fatal attraction as the film proceeds. This is a typical situation of a love triangle, which are in many cases common, and some of the greatest obstacles to true love and true friendship. Throughout the film, the attraction that Sandro has Claudia is initially driven by lust. However, the experience of working towards finding Anna, the attraction becomes more emotional and love based, to the point where Sandro proposes to Claudia, a stage where they have never gotten to with Anna. This concept of a love triangle makes love very complicated, a phrase that Claudia uses repetitively throughout the film.

The film’s exploration of sexual attraction and emotional attraction to a degree indicates a variety of things. Multiple scenes indicate the concept of betrayal. First, Sandro betrays Anna when he kisses Claudia when he finds her alone in the Yacht. Being Anna’s best friend, Sandro cares less about Anna when he makes a move for Claudia. Sandro’s character can be viewed as the Devilish Rake who is driven by the charm of women to great extents, doing things for women or because of women that are unexplainable. This character is also evident in the scene whereby he chases the train as Claudia leaves and even jumps on it, risking his entire life just to have that one moment with Claudia. This aspect of his personality makes him rather irresistible to women. The second aspect of betrayal comes into play when Claudia gives in to Sandro’s charm. The third aspect of betrayal comes into play when Sandro has sex with Gloria Perkins despite his love for Claudia.

Therefore, a key aspect about love triangles is that they set a precedence of betrayal, and once this cycle starts, it never stops. The betrayal of friendship is one of the concepts that all love triangles bring into play. Secondly, the betrayal of trust and love is another angle of betrayal that is present in all love triangles. These two aspects might appear simple when expressed in mere words but such feelings are the worst. When friends end their friendship over a lover, and lovers break each other’s hearts over a friend, such situations have damaging effects to the ability to trust people and also to an individually on an emotional and mental level. For instance, the emotional problems that befall Claudia after finding Sandro having sex with Gloria are unimaginable. However, bearing in mind that she had done the same to her friend, it appears that Karma also plays a critical role in this situation.

Not all love triangles are similar to this one. Each love triangle has its own incidences, and unfolds in a different pattern. Nonetheless, in our social interactions as human beings, since the beginning of time, love triangles have been present among friends, and even among strangers. Some have been harmless and undetected whereas others have had some critical effects and outcomes of all other involved parties. Some love triangles have led to death, and others have destroyed families, friendships, and partnerships. In Sandro, Anna and Claudia’s case, the absence of Anna for the larger part of the film made it incredibly easier for the affair to unfold as it did. Arguably, in this situation, it was actually fueled by her disappearance, since they might have had feelings for each other before Anna disappeared, but the search for Anna is what brought Claudia and Sandro closer together. Towards the end, after Claudia had developed a liking for Sandro, she fears that Anna might return and take away Claudia from her, showing an aspect of possessiveness. This possessiveness is a critical part of the love triangle that leads to the destruction of friendships and romance altogether.

Sandro appears as the protagonist of love within the film with him initiating all the incidences and scenarios that cause betrayal and lead to bitter results for the other person. At first, he was the one who had no feelings whatsoever for Anna and actually despised her and could care less what she did or not. The fact that he brushed off her complaints about her long business trips is one of the key reasons, according to Claudia, that she fled. Secondly, Sandro also initiated by kissing Claudia despite the fact that her best friend and his girlfriend had just gone missing. This being the case, Sandro is the main character within the situation that causes the love triangle. Similarly, Sandro also betrays Claudia when she rejects him and he has sex with Gloria Perkins at the party. This shows that all love triangles have the protagonist, who initiates them, and the rest follow the one who leads.

Another theme that is evident about love triangles is that they mostly start out as lust, but soon grow complicated when emotions come into play. The love triangle indicated among Sandro, Ann, and Claudia results from raw attraction. Claudia then realizes that she too is attracted to Sandro. However, Claudia is rather hesitant and able to control herself telling Sandro to put off their raw and very strong attraction on hold until they find Anna. Evidently, Claudia is a true friend of Anna and largely the only one concerned about her disappearance as compared to any other person including Anna’s father. However, Sandro makes the first move and the two become too much in love that Sandro proposes to Claudia, only for Claudia to put her friend first and turn down the proposal. This rejection leads Sandro to make a move for Gloria Perkins, and this eventually hurts Claudia.

True romance is a thing that all human beings crave. However, friendship is another equally important aspect of life. When you mix the both, the result is always disastrous. As important as friendship is, or love is, when one stands in the way of the other, it leads to undesired complications. This film is a narrative explaining exactly how these love triangles come into play and how complicated they can become. It also shows how they hinder true romance and true friendship alike. Sandro, Anna, Claudia are a complicated bunch of people who were doing okay before the affair began, but once it did, their lives spun into an uncontrollable cycle of complications. Regardless, love triangles have existed since the beginning of civilization and persist to exist to date.

Work Cited

Antonioni, Michelangelo. " L'Avventura." IMDB. Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti, Lea Massari. Cino del Duca, 1961.

April 06, 2023
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Film Analysis Drama Friends

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