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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Il Deserto Rosso (aka Red Desert) (1964)

After a recent auto accident (which may have been intentional), a middle class housewife (Monica Vitti) finds herself increasingly isolated and walking a fine line between normalcy and a complete breakdown. The final entry in Antonioni's quadrilogy on bourgeois alienation (following L'AVVENTURA, LA NOTTE, L'ECLISSE) and his first film in color. Visually, IL DESERTO ROSSO stands out as one of the most ravishingly beautiful films ever made. By beautiful, I don't mean pretty pictures but in its compositions, images, colors and textures. Even the ugliest factories and polluted rivers have a startling beauty. Antonioni's (and his ace cinematographer, Carlo Di Palma) use of color is inspired and thankfully so because as the narrative goes, he's gone to the well once too often. Eventually, the heroine's ennui wears out the audience and as the film nears its end, we're in as much of a stupor as she is! Ironically, it took being dubbed into Italian for Richard Harris, as a visiting businessman, to give the most restrained performance of his career.

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