522 Red Desert

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Matt
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522 Red Desert

#1 Post by Matt » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:03 pm

Red Desert

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Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960s panoramas of contemporary alienation were decade-defining artistic events, and Red Desert, his first color film, is perhaps his most epochal. This provocative look at the spiritual desolation of the technological age—about a disaffected woman, brilliantly portrayed by Antonioni muse Monica Vitti, wandering through a bleak industrial landscape beset by power plants and environmental toxins, and tentatively flirting with her husband’s coworker, played by Richard Harris—continues to keep viewers spellbound. With one startling, painterly composition after another—of abandoned fishing cottages, electrical towers, looming docked ships—Red Desert creates a nearly apocalyptic image of its time, and confirms Antonioni as cinema’s preeminent poet of the modern age.

Disc Features

- New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
- Audio commentary by Italian film scholar David Forgacs
- Archival video interviews with director Michelangelo Antonioni and actress Monica Vitti
- Two short documentaries by Antonioni: Gente del Po, about a barge trip down the Po River, and N.U. about urban street cleaners
- Dailies from the original production
- Theatrical trailer
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film writer Mark Le Fanu, a reprinted interview with Antonioni conducted by Jean-Luc Godard, and writings by Antonioni on Gente del Po and N.U.

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TMDaines
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Re: 522 Red Desert

#2 Post by TMDaines » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:26 pm

Good to see them bettering the other current releases if they're going to release this. I'd probably sell my still sealed BFI disk and get this one but the next B&N sale will likely be before this is released so we'll see.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#3 Post by triodelover » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:41 pm

Bettering the BFI how? The PQ is stunning and the audio is uncompressed PCM. The Forgacs commentary is presumably the same. Booklet essays are different, and the BFI doesn't have the interviews or outtakes, but it has a much better cover ( :wink: ). If one has the BFI, I'm hard-pressed to find a reason to buy the Criterion.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#4 Post by TMDaines » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:44 pm

You answered itself: the interviews and outtakes. It's not like I'm flocking to buy the Criterion. I was just making the observation that they've bettered the BFI releases in terms of extras. I'll probably stick with my BFI myself.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#5 Post by triodelover » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:51 pm

Point taken. But I can't see many who own the BFI dumping it just for the extras, unless you collect director interviews. :|

Also the BFI has English HoH subs on the commentary. Not sure if Criterion does that or not.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#6 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:38 pm

triodelover wrote:... I can't see many who own the BFI dumping it just for the extras, unless you collect director interviews.

Also the BFI has English HoH subs on the commentary. Not sure if Criterion does that or not.

There is also the enticing "More...!" at the bottom of the specs

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#7 Post by ellipsis7 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:13 pm

It's the interviews & 'more!' that interest me... There's already a set of outtakes on the French Carlotta edition, I guess these will be the same...

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#8 Post by dadaistnun » Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:18 pm

Maybe they can get Todd Haynes to film an intro.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#9 Post by anne_zombie » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:58 pm

triodelover wrote:
TMDaines wrote:Good to see them bettering the other current releases if they're going to release this.

Bettering the BFI how? The PQ is stunning and the audio is uncompressed PCM. The Forgacs commentary is presumably the same. Booklet essays are different, and the BFI doesn't have the interviews or outtakes, but it has a much better cover. If one has the BFI, I'm hard-pressed to find a reason to buy the Criterion.

Well, I can only compare the screen caps seen on the DVDBeaver to my memory of BFI's latest projection of its 35mm library print on the large screen at the South Bank. I feel that the BFI's digital transfer's hues are somewhat too cold, blue gets too much emphasis over green. Again according to my memory. Actually I feel the Aussie DVD is closer to what I saw on the screen that night. I am most curious to see what choices Criterion has made(I was taken aback at the lack of 'golden hues' of their transfer of "Days of Heaven," even if the image is clearly more detailed than Paramount's effort.) Proper color timing is the treacherous name of the game!

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#10 Post by triodelover » Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:20 pm

Well, for better or worse, I don't have a 35mm print to compare. 8-[ I would have to view it again to determine if I got a sense of a tilt toward blue or green on my display. Given all the variables that go into viewing these films in our HT set-ups, I can't get too worked up about minor variants that don't detract from the viewing experience.

FWIW, one of the most noticeable aspects of the BFI transfer was not only the vibrant colors (even if they are off) but the rendition of matte versus gloss finishes.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#11 Post by Robin Davies » Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:36 pm

Outtakes!?
Blimey, it looks like I might have to buy this a third time.
The BFI was certainly an improvement on the Australian release which had very poor sound.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#12 Post by jsteffe » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:08 pm

anne_zombie wrote:Well, I can only compare the screen caps seen on the Beaver to my memory of BFI's latest projection of its 35mm library print on the large screen at the South Bank. I feel that the BFI's digital transfer's hues are somewhat too cold, blue gets too much emphasis over green. Again according to my memory. Actually I feel the Aussie DVD is closer to what I saw on the screen that night. I am most curious to see what choices Criterion has made(I was taken aback at the lack of 'golden hues' of their transfer of "Days of Heaven," even if the image is clearly more detailed than Paramount's effort.) Proper color timing is the treacherous name of the game!

Actually, you have a point--the BFI transfer does look quite cool in terms of color temperature. It's been years since I saw the film on the big screen, but instinctively I lean more toward the Australian disc. The old Image disc is clearly too warm. The question I have is whether Criterion will use the same transfer as the BFI.

Either way, it's great to see a decent R1/"A" release of this title.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#13 Post by anne_zombie » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:22 pm

triodelover wrote:Well, for better or worse, I don't have a 35mm print to compare. I would have to view it again to determine if I got a sense of a tilt toward blue or green on my display. Given all the variables that go into viewing these films in our HT set-ups, I can't get too worked up about minor variants that don't detract from the viewing experience.

FWIW, one of the most noticeable aspects of the BFI transfer was not only the vibrant colors (even if they are off) but the rendition of matte versus gloss finishes.

This is quite intriguing, but very hard to make a valid opinion thereof: Matte/gloss finishes? How does one determine these variables on even a remotely objective basis? Could you care to elaborate a bit, or better still - provide screen caps as to highlight your points? I'm sure that there are so many people apart from me who needs to be really convinced if it's worth the while to triple-dip regarding this title. Sure, I know the Criterion is not released, but I feel confident you get my basic ideas.

jsteffe wrote:
anne_zombie wrote:Well, I can only compare the screen caps seen on the DVDBeaver to my memory of BFI's latest projection of its 35mm library print on the large screen at the South Bank. I feel that the BFI's digital transfer's hues are somewhat too cold, blue gets too much emphasis over green.

Actually, you have a point--the BFI transfer does look quite cool in terms of color temperature. It's been years since I saw the film on the big screen, but instinctively I lean more toward the Australian disc. The old Image disc is clearly too warm. The question I have is whether Criterion will use the same transfer as the BFI.

Oh, thank you for not making me feel like an idiot! Somewhere out there, there are people who feel the same way I do! Thanks a bunch for voicing that!

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#14 Post by ellipsis7 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:28 pm

Almost certainly the same HD transfer as BFI, insofar as the Forgacs commentary is ported in also, and it would be unusual to allow a second access to the negative in such a short time period...

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#15 Post by anne_zombie » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:38 pm

Oh, sh*t! What's the matter with 20/20 vision these days? And it seems to get worse - color blindness and the likes...

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#16 Post by triodelover » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:53 pm

anne_zombie wrote:This is quite intriguing, but very hard to make a valid opinion thereof: Matte/gloss finishes? How does one determine these variables on even a remotely objective basis?

Exactly the same way one looks at screen caps taken by someone else on a computer monitor and compares them to the memory of a past event. :wink: In all seriousness, though, we are talking something that is textural in nature. It's not difficult to look at two surfaces of a ship's hull, for example, that are presented in the same frame and tell a high gloss paint finish from a flat or matte finish. It's very clear on the BFI. So much so that I found myself freezing the image several times just to observe the effect.

anne_zombie wrote:Could you care to elaborate a bit, or better still - provide screen caps as to highlight your points?

While my computer skills are quite good compared to most 61-year-olds and I've even built a few PCs back when I was on a Windows platform, screen caps are beyond my ken (and my interest), I fear. It seems of late that some rather broad sweeping statements (and I'm not referring to this discussion) have been made based on screen caps with little concern that caps made by different people from different systems (software, video cards, etc) may not be directly comparable. I'd rather not contribute to that burgeoning hysteria, even if I could make the caps. As I've said before, these discussions are beginning to remind me of the nattering of neurotic audiophiles from back in the '70s.

anne_zombie wrote:I'm sure that there are so many people apart from me who needs to be really convinced if it's worth the while to triple-dip regarding this title. Sure, I know the Criterion is not released, but I feel confident you get my basic ideas.

Alas, it's not my job to do the convincing, Even if it were in my job description, there's little to be done until Criterion actually releases their BD. I consider the BFI Il Deserto Rosso to be a demo disk of what Blu-ray can do, much like the BD of Cy Enfield's Zulu. Now it's possible I don't know shit from Shinola or I could be the most perceptive dude you've run across on the Internet. You'll just have to actually view the BFI for yourself and decide.

EDIT: Sorry if I come across as a bit snippy, but I am truly wearying of these discussions. Most - but not all - get started by folks who have not seen the DVD/BD in question. When the discussion centers on what may be minor attributes that could vary quite a bit depending on the viewing environment and associated equipment, I really think it has to get down to seeing the film in motion on your set-up. Screen caps and Internet evaluations are useful at the level of gross problems and errors, but fall apart completely IMO when we get to finer gradations, which is what we have here.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#17 Post by anne_zombie » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:19 pm

I have no trouble in understanding where you are coming from. We all get a wee bit emotional when we are speaking of a special favourite film, don't you think? Martin Scorsese grades this as one of his Top 10 colour movies. It definitely made a lasting impression on me watching it on the big screen. Naturally, I would like to be able to rejoice in a digital presentation of said movie that may approximate my rapturous viewing experience.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#18 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:22 pm

Just to kill off the speculation, I can confirm that this will indeed be sourced from the same HD telecine as the one featured on the BFI disc. Which doesn't mean it'll look identical, of course, as Criterion are free to do whatever digital tweaking they deem necessary - but the similarities will be more marked than the differences.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#19 Post by ellipsis7 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:33 pm

Very fine, Michael, just as I expected... And as you confirm any slight differences will come from 'digital tweaking' of the HD master when printed to the Blu Ray discs, rather than a genuine grading of the original telecine transfer to HD from the negative...

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#20 Post by david hare » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:38 pm

I certainly support triode's comments about the contrast between gloss and matte painted surfaces in the film. In fact I thought I had commented (but I may well not have) on this aspect among others when the BFI Blu first came out.

Perfectly good examples of these are the red and orange and blue gloss finishes on the pipes and structural elements at the factory, and contrasting mattes are the blues and grays and reds of "domestic interiors." The other great achievement of the BFI disc is in the representation of good consistent films grain. Green strikes me as a color that is largely drained from Antonioni's palette, barring the pale green of Vitti's dress. Part of the visual ravaging of nature by industrial elements.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#21 Post by Person » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:46 pm

I love the story of how Harris lost it with Signore Antonioni and punched him in the mouth. His adieu to the maestro was also great, "Well, every thing we have looks good so I'm off," and left for Major Dundee where he had to contend with an uptight Chuck Heston ("he must have been issued from a cubic womb," said Harris) and just-begining-to-go-nuts Sam Peckinpah.
Out of the spaghetti pan and into the campfire.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#22 Post by triodelover » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:53 pm

anne_zombie wrote:I have no trouble in understanding where you are coming from. We all get a wee bit emotional when we are speaking of a special favourite film, don't you think? Martin Scorsese grades this as one of his Top 10 colour movies. It definitely made a lasting impression on me watching it on the big screen. Naturally, I would like to be able to rejoice in a digital presentation of said movie that may approximate my rapturous viewing experience.

Don't condescend to old folks. We bite, you know. :-"

I'm not protecting a "favorite film". I'm not even sure it's my favorite Antonioni (and Antonioni is not my favorite director - at least on Monday - at least this Monday). While I would love every transfer to be "perfect", the fact is not one of them will be. What I'm reacting to - and I believe it's on the increase with the advent of the HD formats - is what appears to be that some folks seem to be on a dedicated mission to find fault (see the rending of garments that took place on the heels of the Criterion/Studio Canal OOP announcement) that oft times comes from those who haven't even seen the disc(s) in question. Again, it's one thing to call out egregious errors, but a lot of what I've read lately might charitably described as nitpicking, again without having seen the actual BD/DVD. I wonder what high resolution set-ups some of these folks are going to be viewing on that will make some of these so-called mistakes so disturbing? I'd rather revel in the fact that I can enjoy something so filmlike in the comfort of my home attired in my pj's and slippers with an ice cold very dry martini in hand and absent the dulcet (ring)tones and crying infants so common in today's movie theater experience. But I'm an irascible old fart who remembers being fascinated that Jack Benny's ghost could play violin as good as Jack himself and in perfect unison, too. :lol: I apologize if it seems I'm taking it out on you. You just got in the way of a rant that's been building for awhile.
david hare wrote:I certainly support triode's comments about the contrast between gloss and matte painted surfaces in the film. In fact I thought I had commented (but I may well not have) on this aspect among others when the BFI Blu first came out ...

Yeah, but these kids ain't gonna believe you either. You're as old as I am. =D>

But thank you for remembering more detailed examples than I could off the top of my head. Whether intended by Antonioni or simple a minor flaw of the transfer, green is not suggested by the film emotionally.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#23 Post by Tribe » Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:19 pm

triodelover wrote: While I would love every transfer to be "perfect", the fact is not one of them will be. What I'm reacting to - and I believe it's on the increase with the advent of the HD formats - is what appears to be that some folks seem to be on a dedicated mission to find fault (see the rending of garments that took place on the heels of the Criterion/Studio Canal OOP announcement) that oft times comes from those who haven't even seen the disc(s) in question. Again, it's one thing to call out egregious errors, but a lot of what I've read lately might charitably described as nitpicking, again without having seen the actual BD/DVD. I wonder what high resolution set-ups some of these folks are going to be viewing on that will make some of these so-called mistakes so disturbing?

Well, well said, my friend...from one old fart to another. This nitpicking has been going on for as long as I've been a member of it and at least a few of its predecessors. It was tiresome then and it is now. The difference being that like lots of things one learns to tune out the sense of outrage that some feign and pay attention to only the credible posters.

triodelover wrote:I'd rather revel in the fact that I can enjoy something so filmlike in the comfort of my home attired in my pj's and slippers with an ice cold very dry martini in hand and absent the dulcet (ring)tones and crying infants so common in today's movie theater experience. But I'm an irascible old fart who remembers being fascinated that Jack Benny's ghost could play violin as good as Jack himself and in perfect unison, too. :lol:

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#24 Post by NilbogSavant » Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:18 pm

Antonioni's use of color in this one works for me because the industrial surroundings emphasize boldness but lack vibrancy. The BFI Blu retains that very well. The reds are hypnotic but they don't pop off the screen like in a Minnelli film. I'm not very versed in color usage but the best way I can explain it is that the colors pull you in instead of come at you.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#25 Post by anne_zombie » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:51 am

triodelover wrote:I apologize if it seems I'm taking it out on you. You just got in the way of a rant that's been building for awhile.

No, you're not. You are sweet-hearted and somewhat "old"(as am I). And your choice of words is something to be admired. You have a subtle, slightly glassy way with them that comes off well in print. Thank you for your enlightening response. No irony of mine herecometh!

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