Milan as Site of Social Anxiety: Negotiating Notion of Modernity and Gender in Michelangelo Antonioni's "La Notte" (1961)

Alberto Lo Pinto, Ph.D.

This project investigates the effects of modernity on the social reality during the economic miracle, using the quintessential modern city, Milan, as the focus of the investigation. In particular, it considers modern architecture for understanding historical processes of social changes. It employs the cinematic text as the means for the reconstruction and comprehension of the socioeconomic and cultural parameters of the built environment. For this project, I consider the case of Michelangelo Antonioni’s "La Notte" (1961) as a starting point for a wide-ranging research. I elaborate on how the filmic space of La Notte enacts the shape of Milan as well as of the modern Italian city, by depicting specific architectures and urban spaces. My aim is to combine an architectural and urban perspective with an analysis of the spatial dynamics of Antonioni’s mise-en-scéne and Gianni Di Venanzo’s cinematography. I argue that feelings of anxiety and fear experienced in modern society are directly connected to the aesthetics of space, being them the results of modern architectural and urban developments. I trace out the role of architecture and urban space in the anxiety production, especially with regard to how cinema represented such phobia in the screen. Furthermore, I deal with notions of gender, looking at buildings and other filmic architecture as representations of women’s problematic place and role in modern social reality.

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