A perfect setting for wedding dress trashing
A film buff once accused me of caring too much about the plot in movies. “There’s so much more to it!” he argued. “Look at the cinematography, the score, the acting! The story is the least interesting in a film!”
Perhaps he was right. Thinking back at the movies I’ve watched and reviewed the last year, it seems to me as if I have a much harder time to embrace a movie if it’s unclear what it’s really about.
I can appreciate and admire films that are pieces of art that you’re supposed to hold up and contemplate. But when I can’t engage with a film at an emotional level, I have a very hard time to stay awake as I watch it. To keep my interest I need to get something to hold on to and something that stirs a reaction – such as fear, joy, surprise, sadness or fear. Something. Campfire storytellers know how to do it.
But Red Desert – my first encounter with Michelangelo Antonioni – doesn’t offer any story, at least not that I notice. It’s a case of an artifact, which you admire but don’t consume.
Colors and melancholy
For being a film that depictures an industrial landscape that looks like something made up in a five year plan in the former Soviet Union, Red Desert is strangely pretty. There’s something about the way that Antonioni uses the colors that attracts me.
The woman in a green coat looks like a plant. The factory behind her spits out some kind of poisonous yellow smoke in the background. The sense of melancholy and meaninglessness is intense.
I have no idea of what’s going on. The woman appears to be unhappy. Is she mentally ill or just frustrated with her marriage? She starts a relationship with some guy who isn’t her husband, but it doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. I look at the sea. I look at a house with intensely red walls. It probably represents something, but what?
My thoughts start to wander. I think about the new wedding tradition I read about recently where brides look out gritty environments where they have their picture taken while brutally trashing the wedding dresses.
The setting in Red Desert would be perfect for wedding photography. Contrasted with the ugly background, all women look gorgeous.
And that’s all I have to say. Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll have forgotten it completely. Only the green coat and the red wall and the yellow smoke will remain. But to me, that’s not enough. I want more than this from a movie.
Red Desert (Il deserto rosso, Michelangelo Antonioni, IT, 1964) My rating: 2,5/5