Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni • 1964 • Italy
Starring Monica Vitti, Richard Harris
Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960s panoramas of contemporary alienation were decade-defining artistic events, and RED DESERT, his first color film, is perhaps his most epochal. This provocative look at the spiritual desolation of the technological age—about a disaffected woman, brilliantly portrayed by Antonioni muse Monica Vitti, wandering through a bleak industrial landscape beset by power plants and environmental toxins, and tentatively flirting with her husband’s coworker, played by Richard Harris—continues to keep viewers spellbound. With one startling, painterly composition after another—of abandoned fishing cottages, electrical towers, looming docked ships—RED DESERT creates a nearly apocalyptic image of its time, and confirms Antonioni as cinema’s preeminent poet of the modern age.