Criterion Collection Pick of the Week: Red Desert

Red Desert (1964)

Director:  Michaelangelo Anolioni

Country: Italy

Running Time: 1 hr. 57 min.

Let’s face it: the past two weeks were a whirlwind.  Fall Formal.  Rescheduled Rocky Horror.  Family Weekend.  Homecoming.  All in the Timing.  There was so much going on in so little time.  When we try and remember it all, we start of go on a mental journey. That’s why this complex film makes perfect sense during the time of the semester where so much is happening with so little time to finish it all.

The first time I saw this film was last year.  I was taking a film history lecture, and it was shown as an example of subjective art cinema.  I was suffering from over-intoxication of caffeine from trying to drink all four cups that my coffee maker produced each morning.  Each day passed by with nothing wrong until mid-afternoon when I would start suffering from severe headaches, dizziness, and being over-tired.  Once learning about the depth of the film’s protagonist, Giuliana, I started thinking that I was like her.  In my mind, I was going, “Everything is not okay!  How am I going to get through this?”   I find this film so appropriate when I’m in my least stable moments.

As I said, Giuliana is having mental issues.  After surviving a car wreck, she constantly gives blank stares, walks aimlessly around the spaces she’s in, and can’t focus on one thing at a time.  She becomes more distant from her husband, and flings herself into the arms of his co-worker (who happens to be Richard Harris in an odd casting choice).  Throughout the film, her condition gets worse and worse, and at its end, you can’t tell if she’s cured or not.  Much if it can be seen as related to the polluted town she lives in, full of factories and tainted air and water.

It’s a bleak and strange film.  There is not much dialogue and lots of creepy sound effects and music.  The scenery lacks much color. We only see this world as if we all have Giuliana’s eyes, which makes its so powerful for those who can’t remember what happened the day before.

Those who are fully awake enough will enjoy its psychological aspect.  Those who have little patience will watch it, question why are you even watching it, learn about its inner meaning, and then appreciate it.  Either way, it’s better to connect to Giuliana to fully appreciate this film.  And that’s what we are doing when we try to leave a lecture in Heimbold and run to a party in the Blue Room. We can’t always remember what happened, so we might as well enjoy living in the moment.


Image Credit: Google Images

Screenwriter. Humanities scholar. Cinephile. Samantha hails from Richmond, Virginia. She hates Hollywood synergy and people that get on her nerves. When she's not busy writing her next masterpiece or watching movies on Netflix and Hulu Plus, she serves on Student Senate, Student Life, SSSF, and SLAC where she tries to make "home" a better place for other students. Samantha would also like for people to understand that she loves Jean-Luc Godard films, even though he's anti-semitic and she's a Jew.

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