When you find yourself thinking about a film days after seeing it, what you thought about the film while watching it becomes irrelevant. The lasting impact of the story is surely the true measure of how effective the film was. The point being is that I have in fact developed a small obsession perhaps even a girl crush (unavoidable I guess) on Antonia Pozzi. I need to stop thinking about her. May be these notes will help me let her lie.
I was lucky enough to have seen Antonia alone, in a dimmed and quiet home, fire blazing, my own sleep closing in. I woke in the morning and wondered how much I had dreamed and how much I had actually seen. I remember not wanting to wake up and ruin a perfectly strange dream. I felt like Antonia. The wild and bright young Italian poet who lived well before her time.
I rewound a small amount to see if I had missed some in my last nights hazy and dreamlike state. My 7 year old daughter watched with me and asked why Italy had not been painted yet. I really wanted to show her the scene where Antonia wakes in the morning, hot with life and energy and gets up to dance with wild abandon but we had to get ready for school. Abandoning for us was disappointing.
Like a child Antonia’s imagination and passion was a force like gravity. She was fearless and restless. The fearlessness we feel in our twenties, remember? She needed more time. She was intense but dreamy and like me she over thinks things. I suppress the melodramatic in me (most of the time). The ever so honest Antonia doesn’t.
The difference too is that she is a poet. A beautiful poet. Her words are strikingly pure, they are earnest and pared down. They become more and more woeful and peaceful up until her death. I urge you to look up Antonia Pozzi. Her poetry is lonely yet sharp and transcendent. I would love to read what she would have to write today. I am not a poet but I did have to tell myself to take a breath while reading her poetry. Cringe but I guess that really is breathtaking. It’s true, her verses made me tingle like all great poetry does. I can only imagine how beautiful her words must sound in Italian. If only to speak Italian.
One thing I know about myself is that I have an eye for beautiful things. I am 36 now and I have decided this is simply non-debatable. The film Antonia is visually deeply beautiful. The set and costume design, as well as the overall feel to the film is natural and stunning. I sit in my living room and feel pleased with our choice in linen coloured off white paint colours, I spy some soft smoky green but I wonder which part of it should I paint pretty muddy pastel blue. I have spent half a day chasing the goose which is the preferable shade of oatmeal homespun knitwear. It turns out this is because Fendi designed the costumes. Of course. Oh and I spotified a Pierro Ciampi song. A cool Italian rock song. Yip, this very stylish film has been quite a source of discovery.
It may look like a moving fashion shoot and it would be nice to understand Antonia’s Italian scribbles in the journal’s that we see her jotting away in (this is possible of course with some more research) but I liked it this way. It was meditative, a little bit hypnotising. Take it how it is, at face value if you must. Relax and enjoy the scenery not to mention her nude and sensual form. She wanted to love. She needed love. And you know the plot always thickens with a little more interrogation…
I can only think what a fair ground of symbolism there must be. If your looking for it. Symbolism is another long conversation but I think that most of the time it’s boring when the artist is dead. A few cryptic or surreal film tricks for fun. Why not. Symbolism can mean whatever one wants it to mean. So bloody airy fairy. We could go around in circles and follow tangents forever with no one to say we are wrong right? Take Art history if you want good results.
I’m impressed (easily impressionable I was thinking) and then I realise that Antonia was directed by Luca Guadagnino(that guy!). He directed a favourite film of mine from last year ‘A Bigger Splash’. Luca has an eye for beauty too. I spent a wee sum on palm trees after that film. It has been the inspiration of our garden (to be) I intend on planting olive trees and scrub (Kanuka maybe). A large pergola is always close to the forefront of my mind and I’ll be needing a pool too.
Thank you Rotondo’s for bringing us the Italian film festival and showing me Antonia. We all love escapism in it’s many forms. Antonia dreamt of another life, a free life. One that wasn’t steered by sexism or convention. Nor a domineering and over protective father. No matter how privileged and educated she was, a repressed life could never have lasted long in such spirit as Antonia. My time spent with Antonia and soaking up the 1930’s Milan was the perfect escape for me.
Tragically there was only one escape left for Antonia. The tender young and sensitive age of 26. RIP Antonia. You deserve your heaven among the stars. It’s been sweet getting to know you a bit. Looking out on this grey wintry day in Hawke's Bay I think of the unpainted Milan and the freezing cold old day you decided to do the unthinkable. Instead I am re-directing my mind to your poetry. ‘The Scent of Green’ your lost childhood. So much promise and potential. 2017 would have suited you better.
I am guilty of wanting to sway my children into thinking like me. I sometimes use manipulative techniques but they are just children in search of good guidance. We have in our home 2 wild, stubborn, strong willed and intelligent girls, 1 brilliant boy, whom for some reason rarely feels the need to be stubborn. As they grow and form their own opinions I hope they will not be afraid to speak as many words as they need to get their point across. I hope their wings grow as big as they wish and god willing, society giving, fly free here on earth. We all know that I especially mean our girls right. Let us all be feminists. Please. Can you believe that that is still even a thing.
Time is up. Back to reality. I am trying to ignore my 3 year old who is sternly telling me she needs a biscuit (code for attention) for dinner. Listen to me mummy! She says. Despite the abundance of warm nutritious food on the dinner table. I’m feeling like handing over the biscuit. It is Friday. Off I go now to wrap my Fish-Tail palm tree in a blanket. There’s going to be a frost tonight.