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Red Desert

1964 1h 56m Drama List
94% Tomatometer 31 Reviews 85% Audience Score 5,000+ Ratings
Amid the modern wastelands and toxic factories of Italy, wife and mother Giuliana (Monica Vitti) desperately tries to conceal her tenuous grip on reality from those around her, especially her successful yet neglectful husband, Ugo (Carlo Chionetti). Ugo's old pal, Corrado (Richard Harris), shows up in town on a business trip and is more sensitive to Giuliana's anxieties. They begin an affair, but it does little to quell Giuliana's existential fears, and her mental state rapidly deteriorates. Read More Read Less
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Critics Consensus

Michelangelo Antonioni embraces color for the first time in Red Desert, deploying a searing palette and Monica Vitti's exquisite performance to tell a curious tale of unquenchable desire.

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Critics Reviews

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Pauline Kael The New Republic I found the movie deadly: a hazy poetic illustration of emotional chaos -- which was made peculiarly attractive. If I’ve got to be driven up a wall, I'd rather do it at my own pace -- which is considerably faster than Antonioni’s. Sep 19, 2023 Full Review Richard Brody New Yorker Michelangelo Antonioni's first film in color, from 1964, is his most mysterious and awe-inspiring work. Jul 24, 2017 Full Review Derek Malcolm London Evening Standard Antonioni's sense of design and how the environment inevitably influences his characters is masterly. Rated: 4/5 Jul 27, 2012 Full Review Carlos Bonfil La Jornada Monica Vitti renders a stupendous interpretation of a misunderstood and delirious wife lost in a social environment... [Full review in Spanish] Nov 14, 2022 Full Review Dennis Harvey 48 Hills Complex, moody, non-plot-driven views of modern life and its disenchantments... May 23, 2022 Full Review Sean Burns WBUR’s Arts & Culture Despite all the drama (or maybe because of it) 'Red Desert' remains Antonioni and Vitti's most emotionally volatile work together. Mar 1, 2022 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (234) audience reviews
Luca D Very similar to his other films though I would say this one was considerably easier to follow. The meaningless scenes of people walking around are reduced in this film which makes it easier to pay attention to. Would say it's maybe a bit overrated. People love to claim movies they can't understand are "masterpieces" but coincidentally they can't describe why? "And that's what makes it a masterpiece" .. yea ok so you don't know how to feel about it and cant describe why you like it maybe your just hyping the movie up more than it deserves. To each their own I guess. Watch movies you don't understand if that's your bag. This one makes more sense than the others and I can definitely say it is a really good movie. Just maybe not a 95% in my opinion. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/07/24 Full Review Simon T Exasperating and unfathomable, this arthouse clunker features the gorgeous Monica Vitti wandering around an incredibly bleak and ugly industrial landscape and being pursued by a miscast (and dubbed) Richard Harris. Harris gives an uncharacteristically subdued performance and looks miserable throughout. Hard to believe this turkey is from the director of the magnificent The Passenger. Rated 1.5 out of 5 stars 08/11/23 Full Review Dave S After surviving a car accident and a suicide attempt, Giuliana (Monica Vitti) finds herself lost in life, aimlessly wandering an industrial wasteland in search of some sort of meaning, understanding that ‘there's something terrible about reality and I don't know what it is.' Michaelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert is a movie filled with stark but compelling imagery, images framed as only Antonioni could frame them. Despite not having much of a plot, Red Desert is worth watching for the striking cinematography, Vitti's electric performance, some killer dialogue, and, as always with Antonioni, its rich and layered themes. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 05/30/23 Full Review Thomas V ) This is a masterpiece. One of the most artful, beautifully filmed movies I've ever seen. Every shot is a work of art. A thought provoking tale of alienation told on a personal level against a backdrop of an alienating industrial society, this holds up really well despite its age. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/10/23 Full Review William L I'm really not sure if I even like this film, but I do certainly appreciate it for trying something different than many of the other 'flawed romance' plots that seem so prevalent in European film of the '50s and '60s (of which Antonioni's own highly lauded L'Avventura trilogy is a prime example). The director himself described the film less as a simplistic examination of an individual lost in an emerging industrial landscape, but instead as a thinkpiece on change and a failure to adapt; he actually takes care to frame his shots of commercial centers with the intent to highlight some form of beauty rather than their dystopian aspects, though these interpretations haven't aged well with the negative effects of industrialization becoming more acutely felt than they were in the economic heyday of 1964. Still, the deliberately designed sense of waywardness is one of Red Desert's key strengths, where the world changes at such a pace that Vitti's Giuliana can hardly trust her own eyes or provide some meaning to the world around her. Feels like a dramatized Jacques Tati film in places. Just replace the whimsy with dread, and the mild befuddlement with horror. (3.5/5) Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 06/30/21 Full Review Audience Member In his first color film, the great Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni manages to tell the protagonist's alienation from a society devoid of authentic meaning. In fact, the protagonist Giuliana, a dissatisfied bourgeois and wife of a rich industrialist, tries to escape from her routine by finding a lover, Corrado. The story, however, will take an unexpected ending. Antonioni, an excellent director and screenwriter, manages to tell the story perfectly. Finally, the cinematography of Carlo Di Palma and the interpretation of Monica Vitti are remarkable and give further luster to the film. A great masterpiece of Italian and World cinema to see. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 01/12/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Red Desert

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Movie Info

Synopsis Amid the modern wastelands and toxic factories of Italy, wife and mother Giuliana (Monica Vitti) desperately tries to conceal her tenuous grip on reality from those around her, especially her successful yet neglectful husband, Ugo (Carlo Chionetti). Ugo's old pal, Corrado (Richard Harris), shows up in town on a business trip and is more sensitive to Giuliana's anxieties. They begin an affair, but it does little to quell Giuliana's existential fears, and her mental state rapidly deteriorates.
Director
Michelangelo Antonioni
Producer
Tonino Cervi, Angelo Rizzoli
Production Co
Film Duemila, Francoriz Production, Federiz
Genre
Drama
Original Language
Italian
Release Date (Streaming)
Oct 15, 2020
Runtime
1h 56m
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