‘Extraordinary’ Italian movie star Monica Vitti dies at 90

Monica Vitti, the versatile star of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura and other alienating 1960s Italian films, and later a top comic actress, has died at the age of 90.

Her death was announced on Wednesday by a former culture minister, Walter Veltroni, who said he was asked to communicate her death by her husband, photographer Roberto Russo.

Vitti had been out of the spotlight for years, living quietly in Rome with Russo. She reportedly suffered from dementia.

In the glamorous era of the 1960s, she was best known for her starring roles in L’Avventura, La Notte, Eclisse and Red Desert, all directed by Antonioni, her lover at the time.

Monica Vitti with Michelangelo Antonioni in 1967 (AP)

Both were constant paparazzi targets.

The Avventura garnered her international attention and acclaim for her role as an icy woman drifting into a relationship with her missing girlfriend’s lover.

In Red Desert, the last of the cycle, she plays a woman suffering from a deep neurosis as she struggles to cope with a transformed industrial world.

Vitti’s blonde hair and blue eyes set her apart from classic Mediterranean movie stars such as brown-haired Sophia Loren.

Antonioni paid tribute to his performance at a special screening at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1999 to mark the completion of an Italian film restoration project.

“The protagonist, Giuliana, is going through a deep personal crisis due to her inability to adapt,” he said, in remarks read by his wife Enrica.

Monica Vitti in 2000
Monica Vitti in 2000 (Marco Ravagli/AP)

After Vitti’s relationship with Antonioni ended, they did not work together again until 1980.

At that time she radically changed direction and started making comedies, working with the best directors and some of the main Italian actors, including Alberto Sordi, in films whose characters often personified the strengths and weaknesses. Italians.

Although many of the films did not receive international distribution or acclaim, her performances were acclaimed in her home country.

In 1970 Vitti starred with Marcello Mastroianni in Ettore Scola’s romantic comedy Dramma Della Gelosia. In 1974, she won the equivalent of an Italian Oscar, a David di Donatello award, for best actress in Sordi’s Polvere Di Stelle, one of five such awards in her career.

She starred in Luis Bunuel’s The Phantom of Liberty in 1974, a surreal treatment of middle-class hypocrisies, considered his last great film.

Her versatility set her apart from other actresses of her day.

In a memorable scene from Amore Mio Aiutami, she and Sordi are rolling in the sand exchanging slaps and punches.

Monica Vitti and Alberto Sordi show their Golden Lions career awards at the Venice Film Festival in 1995
Monica Vitti and Alberto Sordi show their Golden Lions career awards at the Venice Film Festival in 1995 (Luigi Costantini/AP)

In one of her only two English-language films, she found herself in a spy parody with Terence Stamp and Dirk Bogarde in 1966’s Modesty Blaise.

Vitti was born as Maria Luisa Ceciarelli in Rome in 1931.

As a teenager, she appeared in amateur stage productions, then studied as an actress at the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome.

Her first film role was in Scola’s Ridere Ridere Ridere in 1954. Her last was Scandalo Segreto in 1989, which she wrote, directed and starred in.

In 1995, the Venice Film Festival awarded him a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi remembers Vitti as “an actress of great irony and extraordinary talent, who won over generations of Italians with her wit, bravery and beauty. She brought prestige to Italian cinema all over the world”.

Comments are closed.