“In 2001, you know, the best things in the film are the machines, which are much more splendid than the idiotic humans. In Red Desert, I also confronted this technology and these machines with human beings who are morally and psychologically retarded and thus utterly unable to cope with modern life.” —Interview with Michelangelo Antonioni in Rome, July 29, 1969
“In 1964, Antonioni made his first color film, elegantly controlling his palate in Red Desert, and when Blow-Up came two years later, he became notorious for color perfectionism in deciding the grass wasn’t green enough; he had it painted, and also a road, and a building. ‘Antonioni paints the grass!’ he told me in a 1969 interview. ‘To some degree, all directors paint and arrange or change things on a location, and it amused me that so much was made of it in my case.’” —Michelangelo Antonioni: In Memory by Roger Ebert
Here’s a stunning press kit for Red Desert, Antonioni’s first venture into the world of color, courtesy of CineFiles. Included is a rather dense essay by Antonioni written exclusively for the press kit. You can purchase the original at Royal Books.
Gente del Po — which is available as a supplement on Criterion Collection special edition of Antonioni’s Red Desert — is a hushed, evocative, eleven-minute sketch of the daily toils of fishermen on the River Po. Even in this minor-key debut, with its plangent, gorgeous compositions, you can see the seeds of Antonioni’s style. “Everything that I made afterwards, either good or bad, starts from there, from this film on the River Po,” the director once said. Watch the entire film below.
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