Although White Lotus is set in the present, season two of the HBO series is giving us all kinds of mid-20th century vibes. If you’re a fan of classic Italian movies, it should come as no surprise. As the setting for the TV series moved from Hawaii to Sicily for the second season, the show’s creator decided to pay homage to Italian movies. In fact, a scene in the third episode of the second season has a shot-for-shot look at a classic Italian movie scene.
As filming for the second season began in Noto, the show’s cinematographer Xavier Grobet realized that they were standing at the exact location where the 1960 Italian movie L’Avventura was filmed. Standing at the steps of the Noto Cathedral with White Lotus director Mike White, Grobert had the idea of recreating a scene from the classic film.
A Stunning Remake Of A Classic
The remake scene shows Aubrey Plaza entering the Italian courtyard just as Monica Vitti did in L’Avventura. The 1960 Italian drama by Michelangelo Antonioni tells the story of a young woman’s disappearance. As the woman’s lover Gabriele Ferzetti and her best friend Vitti search for the missing woman, a romance develops between them.
The similarities between the film and TV series are startling. In both L’Avventura and White Lotus, Vitti and Plaza move around the courtyard, keenly aware that the eyes of many men are on them. From the cinematography and camera angles to the people throughout the courtyard, the only differences appear to be the actors in the scene, as well as the film color.
Discussing the scene in an interview with Variety, White reflected, “As someone who watched it young, I just was like, ‘Is this what it’s like in Italy? Are the guys like this there?’ They’re so blatant and aggressive with her, and there’s this kind of menace in the air.”
White also decided to include the remake because of the sexual undertones in the show. Since this episode of is about “men and women and some of the classic sexual politics dynamics,” according to White, he decided to “lean into the archetypal Italian men coming onto a woman on the street.”
The similarities between the HBO series and Italian movie were apparent to White. “L’Avventura is about the desperate search for the meaning of life as much as the actual disappeared woman,” described the TV director. “Obviously, White Lotus touches on the malaise of wealthy people and that kind of search for meaning when you’re just lounging by an infinity pool.”