Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
II Grtdo, which is immediately pre-L'Aventttra in the Antonioni canon, has the same classical purity and simplicity as the later film and the same Antonioni qualities — complexity of character within a skeletal plot, landscapes charged with loneliness, the strong yet subtle technique of a director who yet remains un-obsessed by technique.
The story is very simple. Aldo has lived with Irma for seven years , they have a daughter, but Irma leaves him for another man. Trying to find a new meaning and centre to his life he takes to the roads with his young daughter. There are a few stumbling encounters with other women, but Aldo is haunted by his memories of Irma and is drawn back, irrevocably, to the town in which they lived.
The elaboration of this story through the insecurity of the characters each of them disorientated in some way or another, is powerfully handled, and aided by the grainy, grey-toned photography and by the music scored mainly for piano which strongly reinforces the images. There is a breadth and magnitude which makes one feel that it was a necessary step before the director could go on to L'Avventura. Never before had Antonioni expressed his themes with such a depth of feeling. The desolate autumnal wastes of the Po Valley through which Aldo aimlessly wanders, with the doors of its houses open onto infinity, are the perfect expression of his state of soul. The film is largely composed of two shots but his characters are hardly ever looking at each other even though they are interdependent the failure of communication between them is continually emphasised. Every shot is full of lines which never cross; every character has his own problems and is incapable of helping any of the others.