Monica Vitti (born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli; November 3, 1931 – February 2, 2022) was an Italian actress.
In the early 1960s she became a companion and a muse for Michelangelo Antonioni. She played main characters in L'Avventura (1960), L'eclisse (1962) and Il deserto rosso (1964). Also Vitti played an important secondary character in La notte (1961). Consequently she became an icon of the cinematic alienation.
After 1964 she stopped appearing in Antonioni's films and reached a huge mainstream success as a comedy star featuring in numerous films and winning one of the highest amounts of various prizes among Italian actresses. She also worked for Luis Buñuel in Le fantôme de la liberté. However her attempt to reach out to the international mainstream audience with Modesty Blaise had mixed success. She and Antonioni reunited for the TV production Il mistero di Oberwald.
She passed away at age 90 on February 2, 2022.
- L'Avventura (The Adventure, 1960), this film became a Breakthrough Hit for her.
- La notte (The Night, 1961)
- L'eclisse (The Eclipse, 1962)
- Il deserto rosso (Red Desert, 1964)
- Modesty Blaise (1966)
- The Girl with the Pistol (1968)
- Le fantôme de la liberté (1974)
- Blonde in Black Leather (1975)
- Il mistero di Oberwald (1981)
Tropes associated with her works:
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Monica Vitti played a blonde in L'avventura, a brunette in La notte, a blonde once more in L'eclisse and finally a redhead in Il deserto rosso. While similar changes of hair color or a wig are nothing unusual, she performed those transformations within an implied film series by one director.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Often her characters are mild versions of this.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: That's how her 1960-64 films should look from the perspective of the Italian mainstream viewers who mostly enjoyed her roles in her commedie all'italiana.
- Leslie Nielsen Syndrome: Vitti, who became acclaimed as the star of the existentialist cinema of alienation after 1964, turned to comedy (commedia all'italiana) because she was unsatisfied with being only known by Antonioni's tetralogy. She was trained as a comedy actress and in her formative years was actually very keen on comedy. Moreover, she used comedic means also in some of her films with Antonioni. Less so with Il deserto rosso, much more with L'eclisse.
- The Muse: To Michelangelo Antonioni in 1957-67.
- Older Than They Look: In 1981's Il mistero di Oberwald, she doesn't look her 50.
- Reunion Show: Her film Il mistero di Oberwald can be considered as such because she and Antonioni reunited to work on that film 17 years after their last work together. Further justified as it was made for TV.
- The '60s: The decade when she became a star of arthouse cinema. She went on being famous in the '70s too.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: She always played the inherently idealistic characters who try desperately not to succumb to the cynicism of the world around them.
- Stage Names: She was born Maria Louisa Ceciarelli.
- Typecasting: What she was afraid of, so she quit playing alienated women in the films of Antonioni.