Monica Vitti

Monica Vitti
Monica Vitti

Monica Vitti in 2008
Born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli
3 November 1931 (1931-11-03) (age 80)
Rome, Italy
Years active 1954–1991
Spouse Roberto Russo (1995–present)

Monica Vitti (born 3 November 1931) is an Italian actress best known for her starring roles in films directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, her lover at that time, during the early 1960s. After working with Antonioni, Vitti changed focus and began making comedies, working with director Mario Monicelli on many films.

She has appeared with leading men like Marcello Mastroianni, Richard Harris, and Dirk Bogarde. Her last film was Scandalo Segreto.[1]


Earlier life and career

Born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli in Rome, she acted in amateur productions as a teenager, then trained as an actor at Rome's National Academy of Dramatic Arts (graduating in 1953) and at Pittman's College, where she played a teen in a charity performance of Dario Niccodemi's La nemica. She toured Germany with an Italian acting troupe and her first stage appearance in Rome was for a production of Niccolò Machiavelli's La Mandragola.

Vitti in L'avventura (1960)
In Red Desert (1964)

Vitti's first film role was in Ettore Scola's Ridere Ridere Ridere (1954) but her first widely noted performance was at the age of 26 in Mario Amendola's Le dritte (1958). In 1957 she joined Michelangelo Antonioni's Teatro Nuovo di Milano and later played a leading role in his internationally praised and award winning film L'avventura (1960) as a detached and cool protagonist drifting into a relationship with the lover of her missing girlfriend. Giving a screen presence which has been described as "stunning" she is also credited with helping Antonioni raise money for the production and sticking with him through daunting location shooting. L'avventura made Vitti an international star and one of Italy's most famous actresses of the 20th century. Her image later appeared on an Italian postage stamp commemorating the film.

Vitti received critical praise for starring roles in the Antonioni films La Notte (Night, 1961), L'Eclisse (Eclipse, 1962) and Red Desert (Red Desert, 1964), which are often cited with L'avventura as a series. After she and Antonioni's relationship ended, they did not work together again until Il mistero di Oberwald (1980).

Vitti's made only two English language films. The first was Modesty Blaise (1966), a mod James Bond spy spoof with Terence Stamp and Dirk Bogarde which had only mixed success and received harsh critical reviews. The other English film was Michael Ritchie's An Almost Perfect Affair (1979) with Keith Carradine which takes place during the Cannes Film Festival.

Later career

In 1970 Vitti starred with Marcello Mastroianni in Ettore Scola's highly successful romantic comedy Dramma della gelosia (The Pizza Triangle, 1970). In 1974 she won the David di Donatello award for Best Actress in Alberto Sordi's Polvere di stelle (1973). She starred in Luis Buñuel's innovative Le Fantôme de la liberté (1974). This is often considered her last great film.

Throughout the later 1970s and early 1980s Vitti appeared mostly in Italian films which did not gain international distribution. Even though Il mistero di Oberwald is noted for the last collaboration between Vitti and Antonioni, it is not as well known as L'Avventura. After this movie was made, Vitti did not do as much screen work. In 1989 however, Vitti tried writing and directing and created Scandalo Segreto, which she also starred in. The film was not a success and she then retired from cinema.

By 1986 Vitti had returned to the theatre as an actress and teacher. During the 1990s she did television work, acting and directing. In 1993 Vitti was awarded the Festival Tribute at the Créteil International Women's Film Festival in France.

Personal Life

Michelangelo Antonioni and Vitti met in the late 1950s, and their relationship grew stronger after L'Avventura was made, because it had shaped both their careers. However, by the late 1960s, they didn't make any movies together, making the relationship strained until it officially ended. In a later interview, Vitti stated that Antonioni ended their relationship.

In 1995 Vitti married Roberto Russo, with whom she had lived since 1975.



A few roles are uncredited bit parts or voice overs.

  • Ridere! Ridere! Ridere! (1954)
  • Una pelliccia di visone (1954)
  • Adriana Lecouvreur (1955)
  • Le dritte (1958)
  • L'avventura (1960)
  • La Notte (1961)
  • Accattone (1961)
  • Eclipse (1962)
  • Les Quatre vérités (1962)
  • Château en Suède (1963)
  • Follie d'estate (1963)
  • Dragées au poivre (1963)
  • Alta infedeltà (1964)
  • Red Desert (1964)
  • Il disco volante (1964)
  • The Dolls (1965)
  • Le Fate (1966)
  • Modesty Blaise (1966)
  • Ti ho sposato per allegria (1967)
  • Fai in fretta ad uccidermi... ho freddo! (1967)
  • La Ragazza con la pistola (1968)
  • La Femme écarlate (1968)
  • La Cintura di castità (1968)
  • Amore mio aiutami (1969)
  • Ninì Tirabusciò: la donna che inventò la mossa (1970)
  • Dramma della gelosia - tutti i particolari in cronaca (1970)
  • Le Coppie (1970)
  • La Pacifista (1970)
  • La Supertestimone (1971)
  • Noi donne siamo fatte così (1971)
  • Teresa la ladra (1972)
  • Gli ordini sono ordini (1972)
  • La Tosca (1973)
  • Polvere di stelle (1973)
  • Le Fantôme de la liberté (1974)
  • L'Anatra all'arancia (1975)
  • A mezzanotte va la ronda del piacere (1975)
  • Qui comincia l'avventura (1975)
  • Basta che non si sappia in giro! (1976)
  • Mimì Bluette ... fiore del mio giardino (1977)
  • L'altra metà del cielo (1977)
  • Per vivere meglio, divertitevi con noi (1978)
  • La Raison d'état (1978)
  • Letti selvaggi (1979)
  • Amori miei (1979)
  • An Almost Perfect Affair (1979)
  • Il tango della gelosia (1980)
  • Non ti conosco più amore (1980)
  • Camera d'albergo (1981)
  • Il mistero di Oberwald (1981)
  • Io so che tu sai che io so (1982)
  • Scusa se è poco (1982)
  • Flirt (1983)
  • Francesca è mia (1986)
  • Scandalo Segreto (1989)


  • Ma tu mi vuoi bene? (1991 miniseries)


  1. ^ Gene Youngblood, Audio commentary on L'avventura, Criterion Collection DVD
  2. ^ "Berlinale: 1984 Winners". Retrieved 2011-01-04. 

Further reading

  • Antonioni, Michelangelo (1963) Michelangelo Antonioni: an introduction. Trans. by Scott Sullivan. New York: Simon and Schuster
  • Arrowsmith, William & Perry, Ted, eds. (1995) Antonioni: the poet of images. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Brunette, Peter (1998) The Films of Michelangelo Antonioni. New York: Cambridge University Press
  • Chatman, Seymour (1985) Antonioni, or the Surface of the World. Berkeley: University of California Press

External links

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