Thursday, July 1, 2010

Red Desert (1964) - Il deserto rosso - Antonioni directed

Plot Summary - Italian language film, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. Cold, industrialized cityscape with gritty, gray, lonely streets, rusted window frames, large, rundown factories spewing pollution, fishing ports with ghost-like ships that pass quietly by through the fog, large and looming, rusty and mysterious - and an attractive, deeply disturbed young woman (Monica Vitti) - a wife and mother - who faces mental illness after some sort of road accident a few years before. She seems unable to cope with the world around her, and sometimes views things in one color, the scene literally painted gray - or pink. She meets a friend (Richard Harris) of her husband at the factory where he works, then seems to keep meeting up with this new man, his almost lovestruck eye, a wee bit lustful, always there to observe her strange behavior.

Review - A very unusual film, weirdly visual, with striking imagery - the background music is often futuristic, sci-fi, machine-ish in nature. Is there some hidden meaning behind all this - or is the director trying too hard to be artsy and cool?! Ah, that's the rub. And what's behind the tiny fishing hut, the group of horny people, the quail eggs, and the almost orgy followed by odd, nearby ship quarantine? I found the film interesting, in any case - real weird, but oddly satisfying too. One of my favorite scenes was when the woman tells a story to her young son, the story visualized on the screen, with lovely isolated island, pink beach, a lone girl, and mysterious sailing ship - the prettiest scenery in the film is really, nothing but a story. The widescreen print of this film looked very nice, on Criterion Blu-ray. Rating - 9/10 stars

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