IFFC: Red Desert (12A)

Thursday 23 November


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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. 


"Antonioni’s bold, modernist angles and thrillingly innovative use of colour (he painted trees and grass to tone with the industrial landscape) make every frame a work of art: an achievement made all the more extraordinary considering this was his first colour film. Almost half a century on, Red Desert remains a film of rare beauty and brooding erotic intensity. "

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