Red Desert / Il deserto rosso (1964)

4.0 out of 5

Monica Vitti, drowning in depression and lost amongst the alienating industrial spoilage and decay, ponders escape, both within her mind and upon the ships that connect her world with that beyond the ocean.

Richard Harris, an itinerant engineer represents escape but at the same time, in his way, is also lost.

Visually stunning Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert is an existentialist take on the subject of the lost souls who, like Romero's zombies in Dawn of the Dead, inhabit a twilight place of the living dead in which the escape of dreams and the dreams of escape offer temporary respite from the overpowering noise pollution and the cloying detail of engineering symmetry that contribute to this take on the banality of the advanced late industrial world. The viewer cannot but be overwhelmed by it all and far from marveling at the ingenuity of late capitalism it becomes easier to be immersed and ultimately consumed by the pervasive mist and thus being allowed a window into the mind of a lost alienated woman as she slides into depression and despair.

A tragedy indeed but an aesthetically engaging and poetic one nevertheless.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics