chapter  4
20 Pages

Narrative Tension in Antonioni

WithPeter Wuss

The terms cinematic tension and suspense have been developed in connection with the development of popular genres like the detective, crime, and horror film or thriller, which would probably have lost their right to exist in the cinemas without the corresponding effects. However, the terms do appear to be rather out of place when one considers the work of Michelangelo Antonioni. A statement by the director-that he had aimed for a kind of “ inner suspense” (Antonioni, 1964, p. 89) in UAvventura-however, reveals that, even in a dramaturgy that seems diametrically opposed to the suspense film, tension can play a role-al­ though evidently changing its character a good deal. Theory is challenged not just to aim solely at finding tension in the narrowly defined understanding of the suspense genre, but to contemplate how the concept could be extended or modified so as to be applicable for those phenomena that at first glance, would appear to be miles apart.