Michelangelo Antonioni’s very first feature film in colour has had a new print released to celebrate the centenary of the Italian directors birth. Red Desert (1964) certainly has an expressive use of colour that ranges from yellow industrial fog through slate grey landscapes with splashes of glowing red pipework to the bright green coat of our leading lady all applied with such vivid brush strokes. The movie is set in Ravenna within the industrialised areas of the Pialassa Valley using a background of pollution and social decay that at times makes the film fit a science-fiction genre, this along with some very imaginative editing would not shame the genius of Andrei Tarkovsky.
The beautiful Monica Vitti, best known for her roles in Antonioni’s movies, stars as Giuliana a neurotic married women with a ailing young son whose attempting to keep her metal state from her husband while at the same time becoming attracted to one of his industrialist friends from whom she attempt's ‘to gain love and add meaning to her life’. She’s constantly struggling to maintain her sanity after a car accident that could have been an attempted suicide!
Awarded the Golden Lion at the 25th Venice Film Festival in 1964 the film also stars the British actor Richard Harris as Giuliana lover Corrado Zeller, a role that followed his award winning portrayal of Frank Machin in a film that still ranks as one of the finest British movies ever made: Lindsay Andersons This Sporting Life (1963). Although Antonioni’s movie is a little over indulgent, something one or two of the European directors of the 1960’s suffered from, it’s still a very creative piece of filmmaking. Ok yes it is a movie that will infuriate as much as it will fascinate and yes some will find it dull and depressing but seriously aren’t all the best films?
|Giuliana and her young son.|