IFFC: Red Desert (12A)
Italy/1964/117mins/12a/subs Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni. With Monica Vitti and Richard Harris.
Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960s panoramas of contemporary alienation were decade-defining artistic events, and Red Desert, his first colour film, is perhaps his most epochal. This provocative look at the spiritual desolation of the technological age—about a disaffected woman, brilliantly portrayed by Antonioni muse Monica Vitti, wandering through a bleak industrial landscape beset by power plants and environmental toxins, and tentatively flirting with her husband’s co-worker, played by Richard Harris—continues to keep viewers spellbound. With one startling, painterly composition after another—of abandoned fishing cottages, electrical towers, looming docked ships—Red Desert creates a nearly apocalyptic image of its time, and confirms Antonioni as cinema’s preeminent poet of the modern age.