IL Grido, 1957
rugged, inexpressive refinery mechanic, Aldo (Steve Cochran), hurries
home after being summoned by his married lover, Irma (Alida Valli).
Irma has been informed of her husband's death in Australia, and
Aldo welcomes the tragic news as a resolution to their seven-year
affair. However, Aldo is stunned by Irma's opposition to marriage,
and her subsequent admission to another affair. Unable to find
compelling words to make her stay, Aldo resorts to physical violence, and irreparably
severs their relationship. In retaliation for Irma's betrayal, Aldo
leaves his home and employment with their daughter, Rosina (Mirna
Girardi), and begins to wander aimlessly. His first impulse is to
visit his ex-fiancé, Elvia (Betsy Blair), a sweet, devoted
woman who still loves him despite his cruel decision to leave her.
Unable to reconcile with his own feelings of abandonment, he turns
away from the nurturing, supportive Elvia. After catching a ride
in a delivery truck, Aldo and his daughter are brought to an isolated
gas station run by a sensual, lonely widow, Virginia (Dorian Gray).
When Virginia leaves the station unattended in order to chase after
an unpaid bill, Aldo steps in to dispense gasoline. Virginia seizes
the opportunity to offer him a job, although her motives are clearly
more personal than professional. However, Aldo's unresolved feelings
for Irma continue to torment him, and Virginia's generosity and
affection prove insufficient as Aldo decides to move on. Eventually,
Aldo comes upon an itinerant fishing village and finds companionship
with a prostitute named Andreina (Lynn Shaw). But there is little
comfort in their meager existence, and as the harsh winter sets,
Aldo decides to return home to confront Irma and reclaim the pieces
of his shattered life.
Michelangelo Antonioni creates a poignant and haunting story of
alienation and psychological torment in Il
Grido. As in Agnes Varda's Vagabond,
the barren landscape, perennially clad in fog, reflects the isolation
of the soul. Note the pervasive sound of machinery throughout the
film - speed boats, refinery pumps, diesel engines, construction
equipment - providing an artificial distraction to the silence.
In essence, the cold, bleak, industrial setting further creates
a sense of dehumanization, as Aldo is reduced to vagrancy and inconsolable
loneliness. Inevitably, it is Aldo's silence - his inability to
articulate his pain - that perpetuates his own inevitable tragedy.