Modernist Master: Michelangelo Antonioni

Red Desert

Il deserto rosso

Michelangelo AntonioniItaly / France120 minutes1964RColourItalian

Jul 20
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View Red Desert during the Durga Chew-Bose on Red Desert event.

Prescient in its connection of existential and ecological concerns, Red Desert is considered one of the greatest works of European cinema, and must be seen on the big screen for its fullest effect, especially in this 35mm print of a recent restoration. Monica Vitti is the traumatized heroine, who, suffering from an unnamed malaise and in a desperate search for love, has a brief affair with a visiting business associate (Richard Harris) of her factory-manager husband. Working in colour for the first time, Antonioni all but subjugates character to landscape as he transforms Ravenna, glorious site of Dante's tomb and Byzantine murals, into a desert of slagheaps, factories, and sulphurous skies (grass, sand, buildings, even hair and fruit were painted and dyed to accomplish this disturbing effect). "Perhaps the most extraordinary and riveting film of Antonioni's entire career" (Geoff Andrew, Time Out).