In Search of Lost Time: La Notte and the Time-Image
Chuang, Chu-Jiun Alice
Most analyses of Michelangelo Antonioni’s films have emphasized themes of alienation, but these interpretations have ignored postwar attempts to address issues of ethical responsibility. As much as Antonioni’s films are about individuation and isolation, individuation as alterity becomes a way to talk about altruism and compassion. In my paper, I examine the implications of Deleuze’s time-image, which point to a past, diachronic time that never emerges on screen in La Notte. The time-image relies on visual, audio, and tactile details to draw the spectator’s attention to time as an abstract concept, and Antonioni’s time-image cinema allows for a merging of exterior and internal space. I place La Notte both in context with other postwar neorealist films and recent theoretical discussions of Deleuze. At the same time, I argue that Antonioni’s interest in ethical responsibility, which begins with an acknowledgment of the self’s limitations, parallels Levinas’s philosophical formulations about the proximity of the other. In the context of postwar concerns, Levinas radically argues that ethical behavior begins with a recognition of alterity between individuals.