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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Witnesses to an Elusive Reality: Pirandello's and Antonioni's Characters in Search of a Story

  • Author(s): Martinescu, Mihaela
  • Advisor(s): Harrison, Thomas
  • et al.

This dissertation compares Luigi Pirandello's and Michelangelo Antonioni's characters, illustrating the ways in which Antonioni's characters display Pirandellian characteristics, as well as emphasizing the autonomy with which their author claims to have endowed them. Like Pirandello's puppets, Antonioni's weary and unmotivated characters also appear lifeless. I claim that their aimless wandering, symptomatic of their inner restlessness, as well as their inability to cope with a reality they cannot grasp, and subsequent attempts to hide behind the mask of insanity, are these characters' two most prevalent tendencies.

As I analyze their characters, I point to the ways in which the two artists' themes and philosophies also converge, culminating with their analogous observation of reality, and their unnerving awareness of the impossibility of its representation. I point to the fact that some of Pirandello's theories on cinema are visible in Antonioni's films, while Antonioni's artistic trademark, his "interior neorealism", is clearly illustrated in many of the themes that we have come to identify as Pirandellian. My inquiry finishes with a look at what lies beyond character, text, and image, and constitutes the meta-artistic dimension of both artists' legacies. In conclusion, I claim that their greatest point of convergence is ultimately represented by that which lies beyond the mask, in Pirandello's case, and the image, in Antonioni's.

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