MICHAELANGELO ANTONIONI
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Red Desert
a k a Il Deserto Rosso
1964-France/Italy-Psychological Drama/Feminist Film

PLOT DESCRIPTION
Red Desert (Il Deserto Rosso) once more combines the considerable talents of
director Michelangelo Antonioni and star Monica Vitti. Cast as Giuliana, an unhappy
wife, Vitti suffers from an unnamed form of depression and malaise. Her quicksilver
emotional shifts disturb everyone around her, but they, like she, pretend that
nothing is truly wrong. British engineer Corrado Zeller (Richard Harris) seems to
understand what Giuliana is really after in life, and he acts upon it by entering into
an affair with the troubled woman. Giuliana eventually comes to terms with her
physical and mental pain, but this hardly means that she's "cured" in the
conventional sense. Monica Vitti's sense of isolation is heightened by Antonioni's
(and cinematographer Carlo DiPalma's) choice of colors, and especially by Carlo
Savina's bizarre electronic musical score. This is a landmark movie in Antonioni's
effort to portray alienated individuals in contemporary life; he places people against
towering forms of technology to emphasize their smallness and lostness in the
modern world of technological change. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Review Quotation from:
The Village Voice: Seeing and Nothingness
A must-see retrospective celebrates the work of a modernist master
by J. Hoberman
June 6th, 2006

A card-carrying intellectual, a critic with a strong theoretical bias before he turned to
filmmaking, Antonioni flirted with superficiality. On a visit to Mark Rothko's studio,
he coolly opined that they both made "work about nothing . . . but with precision."
Antonioni's most substantial movies feature, as the embodiment of spiritual
anguish, the stunning (and at times, stunningly inexpressive) '60s girl Monica Vitti.
His modernism was provocatively mod. Perhaps we should call him a now-ist.
Antonioni made industrial pollution ravishingly beautiful in Red Desert (1964). He
did as much as anyone to elevate the fashion photographer to artist with Blow-Up,
the 1966 art-house blockbuster which opens the BAM retro with a weeklong run.