Thursday, January 22, 2015

Il deserto rosso (Red Desert) (1964)


Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Writers:  Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra
Cast:       Monica Vitti, Richard Harris, Carlo Chionetti
Language: Italian


The film is about a woman trying to survive in the modern industrial world of cultural neurosis and existential doubt. It is another one of those films which deal with alienation, the overarching thematic link that connects all Antonioni films.

Giuliana (Vitti) is married to Ugo (Chionetti) with a kid in an industrial town Ravenna. According to her husband, she is suffering from PTSD after a car accident. Ugo's boss Corrado (Richard Harris) become fascinated with her as he sees things that her husband has not realized yet going on in her life. We later on learn that her accident was a suicide attempt. Unlike other Antonioni films, I didn't find the film that interesting despite the exquisite visuals and inventive soundtrack involving industrial sounds and ship horns. This is Antonioni's first film in color and it is a seamless transition for him. The thermal power plant is not used to paint a bleak atmosphere but an attractive one despite the pollution and the wastes that it leaves behind. The level of enjoyment that you get out of the film will depend on how convinced you are about Vitti's portrayal of her role. I didn't find the unsubtle way of her acting in it to be too convincing. 

It is the fourth and last one of Antonioni's collaborations with Monica Vitti, the other three being what is now known as his Alienation trilogy-L'Avventura, La Notte, L'Eclisse. To be, fair all of his films can be described as one which deals with alienation, un-satisfaction and general unhappiness. I don't know how Richard Harris, Dumbledore from the initial Harry Potter films, ended up in this but he was fired before the completion of the film for punching Antonioni in face. He was not satisfied with Antonioni's response of:'You don't ask me why, you're an actor. You just do it', when asked why he needs to walk diagonally in one of the scene. Tough shit.

Rating: 3/5