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The 50 Greatest Movie Endings of All Time

8. L'Avventura (1960)

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Screenwriter: Michelangelo Antonioni, Elio Bartolini, and Tonino Guerra

A generational change was afoot when Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura premiered in 1960. Young filmmakers were throwing out time-tested storytelling tropes. Classical filmmaking was giving way to modernist art, exploring new ways of seeing and being seen. L'avventura, a timeless masterpiece anchored to that period of change, was all about being stuck in a void, haunted by the past while remaining uncertain of the future.

Lea Massari's Anna is a classic brunette beauty who we might assume is the film's lead, until she inexplicably disappears (the first of the film's broken conventions). She leaves her boyfriend Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) and best friend Claudia (new-age blonde beauty Monica Vitti) to find her. The search becomes an excuse for Sandro and Claudia's own affair, while Anna, like the decayed historic architecture glimpsed throughout the film, becomes a memory from the past they can't easily ignore.

Antonioni's gift for telling compositions is on display in the film's spectacular and mysterious finale, when Sandro betrays Claudia just like he did Anna. The two are stranded together on a bench, flanked between a crumbling old building and an open space where a mountain can be seen in the distance. In that image, the past towers over them as they look out into the void, and a new generation's sense of isolation is deeply felt. —Rad S.

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