L'Avventura

— this could have soothed my soul

l'avventura A 1960 movie more relevant than movies made today.

In L’Avventura a group of rich friends get on a boat and explore an island. A lady disappears and her boyfriend and best friend go to find her. As the two spend time together, they ‘fall in love’.

“Too shallow to be truly lonely, they are people trying to escape their boredom by reaching out to one another and finding only boredom once again.” - Pauline Kael

It’s common to use romance to pass time. It wasn’t clear to me in the past but a disproportionate amount of my twenties was used up dreaming about guys, getting excited that they talked to me and finding schemes to talk to them again. It’s not clear if I hypnotized myself to like them in the first place.

There are better things to do with one’s life, but the most basic way to pass time is to look for a romantic partner. If I wanted to learn a skill, like knitting, I’d have to look up some youtube videos and spend time practicing before picking up rewards. There’s thinking involved.

As humans, we have the desire to look for a mate and I found myself looking automatically without much consideration. It’s an activity you just find yourself plunged in, not an activity where there’s space to acknowledge you’re getting into it beforehand. During my early twenties, I was least excited with life and the most lost. I was looking for someone to bring ME meaning and excitement.

It’s strange how nature pushes us towards a mate. It’s so much easier to worry about a upcoming date than to worry about a skill you want to learn, or even, learning to understand yourself.

Back in the day, I wasn’t capable of exchanging ‘love’ without getting anything back. TV shows all made a huge fuss when someone says ‘I love you’ and there’s no ‘I love you’ back. My understanding of ‘love’ was based conditions. A person didn’t deserve my ‘love’ if they didn’t love me. So I wasn’t capable of love in the first place. I could have deduced this but never took the time.

Part of me wishes I had seen this movie earlier and understood my pursuit for love was done out of boredom. It would have been nice to know that much of humanity has already dealt with such issues–I wouldn’t have felt so alone. But even with that info, it would take a lot more to get me to change. There’s no way I would have understood or known how to behave any differently.

“It is impossible to be happy simply because one is ceaselessly entertained.”

La Dolce Vita, also from 1960, discusses a similar theme. The topic back then was about the despair from endless pursuit of entertainment (romance, drinking, partying). Today’s movies highlight a different set of themes, more about civil equality. Perhaps the themes of each period offer medicine for the soul in different ways. But I wish the themes addressed in this movie were available to me when I needed them the most. From what my peers have gone through, they could have used the help too.

“Why don’t we have movies like ‘L’Avventura’ anymore? Because we don’t ask the same kinds of questions anymore. We have replaced the ‘purpose of life’ with the ‘choice of lifestyle.’ - Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert wrote this in 1997. Why is no one talking about this today?

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