117 minutes, Italy-France, 1964, Subtitled, Colour, D-Cinema

To mark the centenary of the birth of Italian maestro Michelangelo Antonioni, his 1964 landmark film Red Desert is being re-released in a beautifully restored version that does justice to its revolutionary use of colour.

Following Antonioni’s early 1960s trilogy – L’avventura, La notte and L’eclisse – the director’s favourite actress, Monica Vitti, again excels as Giuliana, a young woman who, after a possible suicide attempt, drifts into a tentative affair with her husband’s associate, factory-owner Corrado (Richard Harris). Antonioni uses this encounter both as a means of evoking the anguished sensibility of an individual unable to adapt to a world which fails to live up to her dreams and as an index of the ills facing a society devoted to industrialisation.

With cinematographer Carlo Di Palma and art director Piero Poletto, Antonioni had rooms, furniture, fruit, even whole fields painted to obtain the precise atmosphere he wanted; the landscape around Ravenna, with its echoes of Dante, is transformed into a latter-day inferno, bizarrely beautiful yet malign. (Notes by Geoff Andrew.)




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