Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Monica Vitti - art-house comedienne (2) - Deserto Rosso

I have blogged about Monica and Claudia a few times before, but before I get on to reviewing Monica AND Claudia in a 1975 Italian domestic comedy BLONDE IN BLACK LEATHER, here are a few more comments on each of them, particularly Monica in the Antonioni 1964 DESERTO ROSSO - THE RED DESERT which is a unique film in Antonioni's career, as well as a high point of experimentation in modern cinema, coming as it does after that early '60s trilogy of L'AVVENTURA, LA NOTTE and L'ECLISSE and then followed by that trio for MGM. It was also Antonioni's first film in colour and it remains one of the most remarkable colour films ever made - grass, trees, a street and the fruit on a street-seller's barrow are all painted to change their natural appearance, just as in the following BLOW-UP, also shot by Carlo De Palma (who directs BLONDE IN BLACK LEATHER...)
RED DESERT is of course set in that industrial landscape of oil refineries and chemical plants around Ravenna which are affecting Giuliana's state of mind leading to her anxiety disorder. We have shots taken taken out of focus to create abstract blotches of colour, or through a telefoto lens to flatten figures onto coloured backgrounds, as Giuliana and Corrado (a very uncomfortable blank Richard Harris) conduct their affair, as Giuliana copes with her unfeeling husband and young child. Harris is the big flaw in the film, it seems he did not get on with Antonioni and left the picture before the end. Vitti looks striking with red hair and its a terrific performance. After finally seeing IL GRIDO recently (as per review) I am now looking forward to seeing LE AMICHE again, it must have been back in the '60s I saw it!

Its a fascinating film to see again now, since I saw it first at that old Academy Cinema in Oxford Street London in 1964 when I was 18. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1964. Antonioni would not film again in Italy until 1980 after his ventures in London (BLOW-UP), America (ZABRISKIE POINT) and all over Europe (THE PASSENGER) and in China too. A decade later photographer Carlo De Palma turned to directing with Vitti and Cardinale together having fun. That's coming up next ....

and, why not?, another excuse to show a still from L'ECLISSE:

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