Tuesday, April 12, 2011

423. Il deserto rosso/The Red Desert (1964)

Running Time: 120 minutes
Directed By: Michelangelo Antonioni
Written By: Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra
Main Cast: Monica Vitti, Richard Harris, Carlo Chionetti, Xenia Valderi, Rita Renoir


Moving right along with "Antonioni Week", we come to Michelangelo's first color feature and one that didn't make me cringe as much as its predecessors. While I wasn't able to fully comprehend the meaning of "Red Desert", I was still just as intrigued.

Relaying the plot of "Red Desert" is going to be hard for me, because to me there really wasn't much of a plot here and what I took away from the film was more of an emotional experience than anything else. Giuliana (Vitti) has recently been released from the hospital following an attempt to commit suicide. The film opens with images of factories and smoke stacks and as the film progresses, we gather that there must be some sort of factory strike going on. Giuliana lives with her husband, Ugo (Chionetti) and their son. Ugo is a factory director and when his colleague Mr. Zeller (Harris) comes to town to negotiate a deal, he and Giuliana form a connection, although as far as I can tell the connection is never validated and takes the form of friendship and sexual as the film progresses. Giuliana still isn't 100% stable and still seems to be in a deep state of depression as she ponders things like the meaning of life and worries about seemingly nonsensical things.


I haven't done any research on this film, as I write this, so I'm writing to you as someone who has only seen the film and been given an hour to toss different ideas and theories around his head. It's rare that a film perplexes me so much, that I can't decide whether I like it or dislike it. I guess if I even have to ask, then it must have been intriguing enough to be considered a positive experience. I don't mean any offense to Antonioni fans, but to me his films are very pointless and its almost as though he's making films to satisfy fantasies or ideas that he himself had and that he is the only one who truly understands every aspect of his own films. I just have a really hard time wrapping my head around his films, comprehending them, figuring out his metaphors or figuring out the motives of his characters. It's almost as if these films are being birthed in some fantasy world, where logical thinking isn't a must. While I didn't hate "Red Desert" I'd still classify it as pretty as a pretty pointless film. There were so many things that were happening, scenes that were playing out that I just couldn't make heads or tails of and didn't know why they were happening or what they meant.

However, the film really pulled me in and I was definitely intrigued. Why I was intrigued, I have no idea. There's not really something that I can put my finger on and say, "I liked this film or was intrigued by this film, because...". It just had an element about it that made me want to know what the outcome for Giuliana was going to be. I kept waiting for the ending to come and waiting for Giuliana to succeed in her attempt to kill herself. I was drawn to the character, but can't tell you why. I felt so sorry for the character when she goes to Zeller for help and he takes advantage of her, basically raping her, in her moment of severe distress.

I'm going to wrap it up there, because I have a feeling a lot of my thoughts aren't coming together very clearly and that I'm not making a whole lot of sense. Suffice it to say that I was deeply intrigued by the film, but still had a hard time understanding it. That's not a bad thing, in my book.

RATING: 6/10 I give it definite points for at least keeping me wrapped in it for the duration, unlike Antonioni's other films that just seemed to lose me at certain points and never regain my interest. Next up: "Blow-Up".


April 12, 2011 6:33pm

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