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Michelangelo Antonioni’s panoramas of contemporary alienation were decade-defining artistic events. Red Desert, his first color film, is perhaps his most epochal.
This provocative look at the spiritual desolation of the technological age continues to keep viewers spellbound. A disaffected woman, brilliantly portrayed by Antonioni muse Monica Vitti, wanders through a bleak industrial landscape beset by power plants and environmental toxins and tentatively flirts with her husband’s coworker, played by Richard Harris. With one startling, painterly composition after another, Red Desert creates a nearly apocalyptic image of its time, and confirms Antonioni as cinema’s preeminent poet of the modern age. (117 mins., 35mm)