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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Blow-Up director Antonioni dies
Michelangelo Antonioni
Antonioni will be buried in his home town on Thursday
Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni, renowned for his 1966 release Blow-Up, has died aged 94.

He gained two Oscar nominations for the iconic release, and was awarded an honorary Academy Award for his life's work in 1995.

He was also nominated for the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d'Or, five times between 1960 and 1982.

The director died peacefully at home on Monday night, his wife, actress Enrica Fico, told La Repubblica newspaper.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano paid tribute, saying the country had "lost one of cinema's greatest protagonists and one of the greatest explorers of expression in the 20th Century".

He was a rogue and a tyrant and a brilliant man
Sarah Miles
Blow-Up actress
Another great Italian director, Mario Monicelli, said Antonioni was "one of the masters of Italian and international cinema".

"He found out how to tell things, emotions, that before him nobody think could ever be told through this mean of expression which is cinema," he said.

Actress Sarah Miles, who appeared in Blow Up, told the BBC World Service's Europe Today that Antonioni was "a rogue and a tyrant and a brilliant man".

"He was all things, as everybody is who has got any great talent. He had his dark side and his light side," she said.

It's the last link with the great days of European art cinema
Geoffrey Nowell-Smith
Antonioni author
Richard Mowe, a film writer and co-director of the Italian Film Festival UK, said Antonioni made productions "that were out of the conventional modes of expression".

"He invented his own language of cinema - that's what made him very, very inventive," he said. "He didn't owe anything to anybody else. He was a total original."

Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, the author of a book on Antonioni's film L'Avventura (The Adventure), described his works as being productions that "invite you to concentrate on them, like great music".

Michelangelo Antonioni with his wife Enrica Fico in 2002
Antonioni was married to Enrica Fico
"It's extraordinary that he should die within a day of Ingmar Bergman - that's two greats in two days," said Mr Nowell-Smith, who also curated a season of his work at London's BFI Southbank.

"It's the last link with the great days of European art cinema."

Fans will be able to pay their respects when Antonioni's body lies in state in the Sala della Protomoteca at Rome's city hall, the Campidoglio, on Wednesday morning.

The funeral will then take place in the director's home town of Ferrara, north-eastern Italy, on Thursday.

Antonioni was born in Ferrara in 1912 and released his debut feature, Story of A Love Affair, at the age of 38.

But he did not achieve international recognition until the mystery L'Avventura 10 years later in 1960.

In 1966, he signed a deal to make a trilogy of films for the English market with legendary Italian film producer Carlo Ponti.

The first was Blow-Up, in which a photographer appears to have uncovered a murder in his photos.

Vanessa Redgrave and David Hemmings in Blow-Up
Blow-Up starred Vanessa Redgrave and David Hemmings
Shot in London, and starring David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave, it was his biggest international hit.

Antonioni captured the "flower power" era in 1970, filming Zabriskie Point in California, while Hollywood actor Jack Nicholson starred as a journalist in 1974 in Professione: Reporter (The Passenger).

In 1985, the director suffered a stroke that left him partially paralysed, but he continued to work behind the camera. "Filming for me is living," he said.

His last cinematic release was 2004's The Dangerous Thread of Things, one part of a trilogy of short films released under the title Eros.

Obituary: Michelangelo Antonioni
31 Jul 07 |  Entertainment
Blow-Up actor David Hemmings dies
04 Dec 03 |  Entertainment


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