In an industrial area, unstable Giuliana attempts to cope with life by starting an affair with a co-worker at the plant her husband manages.In an industrial area, unstable Giuliana attempts to cope with life by starting an affair with a co-worker at the plant her husband manages.In an industrial area, unstable Giuliana attempts to cope with life by starting an affair with a co-worker at the plant her husband manages.
But it's not just Guiliana's life she has to adapt to, it's her surroundings, beautifully brought to screen in what was, quite surprisingly, Antonioni's first foray into colour. With a telephoto lens to flatten the perspective, framing scenes purposefully out of focus and the use of disarming long-cut shots, Antonioni paints a bleached and chemical picture of post-war Italy, an Italy that expanded into an industrial super-power at an alarming rate. Antonioni was so adamant about how this world should be presented that he insisted on painting trees, barrels, walls and even whole fields to ensure the results he envisioned. An extreme measure, certainly, but a welcome one as the stark, sterile greys of this industrial Italy, juxtaposed here and there with flourishes of artificial, man-made colour, are often brought to the forefront of the viewer's mind when at times the pacing and ambiguity of the narrative create a lull in interest. Those man-made colours provide another allegorical point, alluding to how the society of this industrial community has adapted to the bleak repetitiveness of the environment by injecting splashes of primary colour into their surroundings. One criticism that's easy to level at 'Red Desert' is that it's an entirely singular film - Guiliana is undoubtedly the protagonist of this piece, but everyone else, even the ambiguous love interest Zeller, appears on screen barely defined. This might be a problem for anyone expecting a traditional narrative, but that's not what 'Red Desert' is about. There's no real progression of story here, only the progression of Guiliana's mental state, everything else is quite incidental and as such, is not admitted entry into Antonioni's vision. It's this bold vision that provides the films defining hallmark; the wonderful cinematography that surrounds Monica Vitti's accomplished, if somewhat overwrought, performance.
- Jan 11, 2011