Infidelity -- Italy -- Drama, Mentally ill -- Italy -- Drama, Pollution -- Italy -- Revenna -- Drama

Red Desert

(Il deserto rosso)


Monica Vitti, Richard Harris, Carlo Chionetti, Xenia Valderi,

Red Desert was shot in the industrialized North of Italy, where Monica Vitti, as the wife of an electronics engineer, suffers what would be called a nervous breakdown at any other time, in any other place. In 1964, Red Desert is post–postwar promise. In his first color film, here is Antonioni, the painter on screen, the abstract expressionist. But the film’s very beauty is hewn from an environmental apocalypse that is at once metaphor and reality: factories, pipes, yellow smoke trailing to the sky; figures lost in a poisoned fog, staring into a poisoned bog. Vitti distills the ambivalence of her earlier performances in L’avventura and L’eclisse into the figure of a woman so anxiety-ridden she is no longer sensual, rather, overly sensitive and barely sensate. The textures of her world have become alien to her. Red Desert asks the question the earlier films were not ready to ask: “What is human nature when there is no more Nature?”

Judy Bloch
  • Michelangelo Antonioni
  • Tonino Guerra
  • Carlo Di Palma
  • Italian
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • Color
  • 35mm
  • 117 mins
  • Janus Films

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Michelangelo Antonioni: interiores burgueses con figura (program), Institut Valencià de l'Audiovisual i de Cinematografia Ricardo Muñoz Suay, Domènec Font, 2010

Landscapes of deliquescence in Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert (article), Institute of British Geographers, Matthew Gandy, 2003

The red desert (program note), Harvard Film Archive, James Quandt, 2000

Michelangelo Antonioni: modernist master (press release), San Francisco Film Society, 1999

Modernist master: Michelangelo Antonioni (program note), Cinematheque Ontario/a division of Toronto International Film Festival Group, James Quandt, 1993

Il deserto rosso (program note), Film Society of Lincoln Center, 1992

'Dear Antonioni...' : the complete works of Michelangelo Antonioni (program note), Film Society of Lincoln Center, Kathleen Murphy, 1992

Red desert (program note), Art Institute of Chicago. Film Center, Barbara Scharres, 1990

The red desert (press kit), San Francisco International Film Festival, 1990

Antonioni's Desert blooms (review), Boston Phoenix, Jeffrey Gantz, 1986

Displaying 10 of 24 publicly available documents.

View all Red Desert documentation on CineFiles.