522 Red Desert

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Robin Davies
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Re: 522 Red Desert

#126 Post by Robin Davies » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:44 pm

I enjoyed the extras on the Criterion disc, especially the interviews, but I was disappointed that N.U. was blighted by a Luce logo.
Does anyone know why it was there? I would have expected Criterion to insist on its removal.

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HistoryProf
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Re: 522 Red Desert

#127 Post by HistoryProf » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:43 pm

Matango wrote:Is there a prize for the thread most guaranteed to suck all enjoyment out of watching a film?
:lol: boy...I watched this last night, let it simmer, and wanted to come here and get some insight into it all and instead get 5 pages of whining about the transfer. awesome. There are a couple of good posts on page 1, but it saddens me that this place has become so obsessed with the technical side of things that the films themselves have become lost in their own damned threads.

As for my reaction, I don't know what to really think about this. One bit that threw me was the almost sci-fi tenor to the soundtrack, especially at the end. I felt like I was meant to be watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers with the cues the music gave...but I have to wonder if that ethereal nature - other worldly if you will - is intentional in terms of wanting to convey that this is not necessarily the earth as we know it. Or that Vitti's reality has become so unreal that she truly is "Alien." or something. but then that seems too easy and trite, so again I'm left scratching my head. I can't say I loved it...i certainly didn't dislike it...I just don't know beyond thinking that it was, well, interesting...or perhaps curious is a better word. It just felt like a film where the director wasn't completely sure of what he wanted to say, and reading the interview w/ MA and Godard kind of reinforced that impression. The whole "alienation" thing seems to be almost like an antique neurosis from today's perspective - the post-war psychological version of 'the vapors' cloaked in neo-postmodern philosophy - w/ half a century to further acclimate to the modern world. I can imagine things felt extremely foreign in the post war world of Europe...but it's hard to feel that now, even if I can intellectually perceive and understand it - if that makes sense. so I know he's trying to assert some commentary on the plagues of modernity and industrialization on the human soul, but I can't say I fully understand what it exactly is. Looks good though, and Vitti is at her best, w/ the ability to absolutely stun w/ just a look. those eyes...my oh my.

I can say that it looks stupendous on blu ray...top notch all around. there is some flickering at the very beginning, but then it settles into a glorious transfer that is near perfect in grain and temp imo. the bleak industrial landscape was really striking, particularly when the red elements came into play.

Oh, and I have to say that the ubiquitous dubbing contributed to my disassociative feeling while watching it. For whatever reason, it's the one facet of Italian films I have a lot of trouble overcoming...the lack of synchronicity just pulls me right out and can make some films a real chore. In this case, however, that sense of unreality somewhat helped in furthering the ethereal feel to it all...almost Bunuelian in a way. I'm just too literal-minded I guess and therefore can't simply accept Richard Harris w/ an Italian baritone...especially when he's clearly speaking English and the dub is Italian, so nothing matches.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#128 Post by rrenault » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:38 pm

Even if some prefer the BFI coloring, I saw this at MOMA yesterday, and the coloring was identical to the criterion's.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#129 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:42 pm

rrenault wrote:Even if some prefer the BFI coloring, I saw this at MOMA yesterday, and the coloring was identical to the criterion's.
Yes, that's the point, Criterion graded against that MoMA print, while BFI graded against the print they hold, so the debate still remains wide open...

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#130 Post by jsteffe » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:47 pm

rrenault wrote:Even if some prefer the BFI coloring, I saw this at MOMA yesterday, and the coloring was identical to the criterion's.
Yes. MichaelB mentioned earlier that Criterion used MOMA's print as a reference, whereas the BFI used a different reference print--hence the slightly different coloring.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#131 Post by MichaelB » Sun Apr 10, 2011 2:18 pm

Yes, that's correct. Criterion and the BFI both used exactly the same HD telecine (created in Rome under the BFI's supervision), but the colour timing and grading were performed separately, with Criterion using MOMA's print and the BFI using the BFI National Archive one for reference.

Unfortunately, the only three people who can offer a truly definitive opinion on what was intended are either dead (Antonioni, Carlo di Palma) or blind (the original colour timer), so which of the Criterion or BFI versions is closest to the ideal - if indeed either of them are - is a matter of unresolvable conjecture.

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Peacock
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Re: 522 Red Desert

#132 Post by Peacock » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:09 pm

Not really; just because a colour timer is blind, doesn't mean he can't visualize... The Criterion and BFI are different enough color wise to be described individually to the man; there's certainly a chance he'll remember how it originally looked.

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#133 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:15 pm

Carlo di Carlo could also be asked, he edited the published script of DESERTO ROSSO at the time, and previously in 1964 a 535 page book on MA, most recently in 2002 'Il Cinema di Michelangelo Antonioni'... Colour memory can be strange thing - just looking at those CC BR framegrabs of KES on Beaver, and thinking no way do I remember it looking like that when I saw it in the 1970s on 16mm, but then Loach & Menges, director and cameraman approved this new transfer...

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#134 Post by Noiretirc » Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:50 am

Particle Zoo wrote:There’s this haunting dream like quality that infuses the film with a beautiful melancholy, ships sail by seen through improbable windows. Corrado and Giuliana try to make a meaningful connection but can’t, (I’ve had that dream, both asleep and wide awake). Ugo and his friends are slowly engulfed by a literal and metaphysical fog. Giuliana says: ‘I can’t look at the sea too long or I lose interest in what’s going on on land.’
While I continue to wrap my head around my first experiences with this (and L'eclisse), I do want to say that I share your enthusiasm for Red Desert and I desperately want to see it again soon. (Identification Of A Woman is up next). I think I dreamed about the Island/girl/story sequence last night, complete with the sweeping camera movements and the crystal clear nature, which shocked in comparison to the claustrophobic fog of the main part of the film. (I marvel again at what Antonioni does with rocks.) And wasn't Blow Up such a very different film just 2 years later?

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Re: 522 Red Desert

#135 Post by jegharfangetmigenmyg » Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:03 pm

I just got back from a 35mm screening of Red Desert at the Copenhagen Cinematheque. The copy had Swedish subtitles, and the color scheme was identical to the BFI blu-ray. I noticed that the it shifted from green'ish in some scenes to yellow'ish in others, so it definitely didn't have anything to do with wear. I guess it's up in the air if the somewhat radical scheme changes are what Antonioni intended as opposed to the other, more neutral print that Criterion supposedly used, but judging from this screening I would definitely bet that they were intended as they complement Giuliana's psychological state very much. It didn't look random, for sure. Just my two cents.

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Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

#136 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:41 pm

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Re: Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

#137 Post by Sloper » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:00 am

We’ve been doing the film club for a year now, and although we’ve discussed lots of great films, this is the first one that I really love. Along with Dreyer, Antonioni is my favourite director, and this might be his best film (though it's hard to choose one single highlight from his 60s output).


Some questions, in case anyone wants them:

Antonioni originally planned to call this film Celeste e verde [Blue and Greenceleste is pale/light blue, or sky blue], which are the two colours Giuliana plans to use to decorate her ceramics shop. What would have been the significance of this title?

Why is the film called Il deserto rosso instead? What is the desert, and why is it red? Or, if this is too literal-minded, what is the phrase ‘red desert’ supposed to evoke?

Do particular colours have particular meanings or connotations attached to them in this film (e.g. yellow = poisonous; celeste and verde = neutral, non-disturbing), or can they signify different things at different times?

Why are all the objects in the title sequence out of focus? There are many points throughout the film when images become blurred. I don’t think Antonioni used this effect very often in his previous films, so why is it so prevalent here? Does it have something to do with the fact that he’s working in colour for the first time?

Giuliana’s relationship with her son is foregrounded at the beginning and end of the film. Why is it important? What do you make of Valerio’s feigned illness?

Why does Giuliana insist on buying the factory worker’s sandwich, rather than getting one of her own from the nearby café? Why does she need to be alone to eat it?

It’s tempting to try and diagnose Giuliana: what is the nature of her disorder (if that’s even the right word for it), what are its causes, and is it curable?

Modernity (in its mid-20th-century phase) seems to be part of the problem here – the ‘sunless, mechanised world...that is the real cause of her neurosis’, as Peter Goldfarb put it in a contemporary review in Film Quarterly. But what is it about this industrialised landscape that affects Giuliana’s mental health?

Both Ugo and Corrado seem to think that the best way to deal with Giuliana’s panic attacks is to try and have sex with her. Why? What is the film saying about sex in the modern world? Why does Corrado’s hotel room turn pink after he and Giuliana have sex? (It seems pretty clear that this is a rape scene, for all that it is shot and edited in an elliptical and ambivalent way. Men trying to have sex with unwilling women are a common sight in Antonioni's films, although usually the men give up and sulk, like Ugo at the start of Red Desert. There's a lot more to say about this issue, but I felt it was important to flag it up here.)

Does Giuliana’s neurosis stem from something more fundamental than ‘modernity’? Towards the end of the film she says, ‘There is something terrible in reality, but I don’t know what it is. Nobody tells me.’ Does the film tell us? And if it does, is it possible to verbalise or rationalise what it tells us – or is this ‘terrible thing’ communicable only through the juxtaposition of moving images (and sounds)?

What do you think of Monica Vitti’s performance? (I think it’s terrific.)

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Re: Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

#138 Post by domino harvey » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:07 am

Sloper wrote:Why does Giuliana insist on buying the factory worker’s sandwich, rather than getting one of her own from the nearby café?
Well, she's sort of pushed into it by the striking workers who accuse her husband of being a poor father and provider (or something to that effect) over the bullhorn. So she scrambles to overcompensate into "providing" for her son via the most immediate method available to her. It's indicative of her poor capacity for parenting and her impulsiveness

As for the meaning of colors, my students and I recognized that "red" appeared every time Vitti was put into a situation in which she felt a heightened sense of alienation (or to signal that such a feeling was forthcoming). The desert is the most solitary of geographical fixtures and the perfect fit for the strange loneliness of alienation

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Re: Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

#139 Post by Sloper » Wed Sep 03, 2014 6:52 pm

domino harvey wrote:Well, she's sort of pushed into it by the striking workers who accuse her husband of being a poor father and provider (or something to that effect) over the bullhorn.
Interesting - so when the Union spokesman says to the strike-breaker, 'You are not a director - you are someone who works to feed his family', this resonates with Giuliana because her husband does belong to senior management. The Union leader means that ordinary workers have to worry about providing for the basic needs of their dependants, whereas wealthy directors do not - but for Giuliana, this triggers the reflection that her hyper-sophisticated lifestyle does not satisfy her most basic human needs. I've never fully understood the relevance of the strike sub-plot, but the line you refer to (and specifically the reference to food, left un-translated in both the Criterion and BFI editions) perhaps does suggest a connection here.
domino harvey wrote:So she scrambles to overcompensate into "providing" for her son via the most immediate method available to her. It's indicative of her poor capacity for parenting and her impulsiveness
Not sure I agree with this. She does offer the sandwich to Valerio, but primarily she seems to want it for herself. I think this is about wanting a connection with another person: sharing someone else's sandwich, and trying to share it with her son, rather than just buying a pre-packaged sandwich from the shop down the road.

As for 'poor capacity for parenting'...I guess she does leave her son behind while she runs off to eat the sandwich. Other than that, I don't see much evidence that the film judges her in the way you suggest here. Indeed, what makes the 'feigned illness' sequence so painful is that for a little while it gives Giuliana a space in which to care for and be needed by her son; but then it turns out that he was putting on an act, for reasons of his own that he refuses to share with her. The real problem in this relationship seems to be that Valerio has nothing to learn from his mother. He already has a far healthier and more mature relationship with modernity and technology than she does, and seems to bond easily with his father. Giuliana is left out in the cold in this family, and this is obvious from the first scene. After Valerio refuses the sandwich, he appears to make a conscious decision not to follow his mother. As he watches her walk away, you could interpret his expression as one of concern, pity or contempt - but ultimately, I think the face he pulls is suggestive of indifference. There's no sense that he wants or needs anything from her that she is failing to provide. She simply isn't that important to him.
domino harvey wrote:As for the meaning of colors, my students and I recognized that "red" appeared every time Vitti was put into a situation in which she felt a heightened sense of alienation (or to signal that such a feeling was forthcoming). The desert is the most solitary of geographical fixtures and the perfect fit for the strange loneliness of alienation
I think you're right that red sometimes signifies this: there's the red piece of fabric placed alongside Giuliana when she discusses her time in the clinic in Mario's apartment; the bright red of the radio telescope pylons in Medicina, memorably used as the backdrop to Giuliana's disingenuous claim to be 'very well' when Mario enquires about her health; red is very prominent in the bed-frame in Corrado's room at the end, especially in that chilling shot where Giuliana tries to escape his amorous clutches and the camera does a rapid pan along the metal bar she's clinging to; and it's the dominant colour at the start of the scene where she talks to the Turkish sailor.

But then there are quite a few scenes where a 'heightened sense of alienation' is not accompanied or signalled by this colour. For instance, near the start of the film when Giuliana wakes up in bed and takes her temperature, then writhes about on the landing, the most prominent colour here is a dark blue; and the sequence in the fog, when she almost drives into the water, follows on from the intensity of the 'red room' sequence, but I don't think the alienation here is associated with the colour red as such.

I would probably attach this colour to a sense of 'heightening', but not to 'alienation' in all circumstances. Just as celeste and verde are identified by Giuliana as 'cold' colours that won't disturb the objects in her shop, so rosso is in the opposite category. Antonioni talks about this in an interview (possibly the one with Godard in the Criterion booklet), where he observes that the workers in a factory whose interior had been painted red were at each other's throats within a few weeks, whereas when it was re-painted a pale green they were much calmer and happier. Red is a hot, exciting colour, which is why Max, the creepy lothario, has chosen it for the walls of his orgy chamber. Insofar as it has erotic connotations, there is definitely a link here with the film's larger discussion of alienation, but like all the colours in the film I think its significance is very fluid.

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Re: Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

#140 Post by Drucker » Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:15 pm

Just popping my head in to say I'll have this on netflix over the weekend and will be jumping in. Surely there are more with things to add!

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Re: Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

#141 Post by Drucker » Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:07 pm

Sloper wrote:We’ve been doing the film club for a year now, and although we’ve discussed lots of great films, this is the first one that I really love. Along with Dreyer, Antonioni is my favourite director, and this might be his best film (though it's hard to choose one single highlight from his 60s output).


Some questions, in case anyone wants them:

Antonioni originally planned to call this film Celeste e verde [Blue and Greenceleste is pale/light blue, or sky blue], which are the two colours Giuliana plans to use to decorate her ceramics shop. What would have been the significance of this title?

Why is the film called Il deserto rosso instead? What is the desert, and why is it red? Or, if this is too literal-minded, what is the phrase ‘red desert’ supposed to evoke?

Do particular colours have particular meanings or connotations attached to them in this film (e.g. yellow = poisonous; celeste and verde = neutral, non-disturbing), or can they signify different things at different times?
There's a scene early on, when she's first setting up her will-be shop, that Corrado asks her about the colors, and she mentions that they cannot clash. Red's complimentary color is green (which according to my artist/art-teacher wife means they do indeed "clash" which I didn't realize). To me, why is there a desert of red? While biologically I may be incorrect, I think it's fair to view desert's as dead and vacant. Green is the color of the earth and of life. So if the green is destroyed and overcome by industrialization and modernization, that leaves red with no compliment. Red, the color of fire and burning and scorched heat, is free to roam without being kept in check by the green. This has important implications for Giuliana, as the story she tells her son nears the end illustrates her association of earth, less disturbed by humans and certainly undisturbed by industrialization, is something (presumably) she misses. (The presumption being the link between the girl in the story and her).
Why are all the objects in the title sequence out of focus? There are many points throughout the film when images become blurred. I don’t think Antonioni used this effect very often in his previous films, so why is it so prevalent here? Does it have something to do with the fact that he’s working in colour for the first time?

Giuliana’s relationship with her son is foregrounded at the beginning and end of the film. Why is it important? What do you make of Valerio’s feigned illness?
To me these both have to do with the foundation of her world crumbling against her power. There is an uneasy dizziness to many of the scenes of the film. Point of views shift, and a scene which clearly features three characters comes to feature two. There are many with Giuliana, Corrado, and Ugo which do this. The scene in the house on the water seems to do this, too. Giuliana dizzingly moves between two men. Other women do it, too. Other men do it. Who is one loyal to in this situation? The overall issue is the instability of the world, exemplified by Corrado who continues to move around. Like the other Anotnioni films, there is certainly a resolution at the end of the film, but does it fix the fundamental issues that bring up the conflict? It seems that Giuliana is doing more of the same: moving around and adding things to her plate. More items. More work to do. More people to interact with. That seems to be her means of dealing with her issues she feels when alone. Unfortunately, there is no going back to the peace she felt before the machines and the streets and the industry came.
It’s tempting to try and diagnose Giuliana: what is the nature of her disorder (if that’s even the right word for it), what are its causes, and is it curable?

Modernity (in its mid-20th-century phase) seems to be part of the problem here – the ‘sunless, mechanised world...that is the real cause of her neurosis’, as Peter Goldfarb put it in a contemporary review in Film Quarterly. But what is it about this industrialised landscape that affects Giuliana’s mental health?

Both Ugo and Corrado seem to think that the best way to deal with Giuliana’s panic attacks is to try and have sex with her. Why? What is the film saying about sex in the modern world? Why does Corrado’s hotel room turn pink after he and Giuliana have sex? (It seems pretty clear that this is a rape scene, for all that it is shot and edited in an elliptical and ambivalent way. Men trying to have sex with unwilling women are a common sight in Antonioni's films, although usually the men give up and sulk, like Ugo at the start of Red Desert. There's a lot more to say about this issue, but I felt it was important to flag it up here.)

Does Giuliana’s neurosis stem from something more fundamental than ‘modernity’? Towards the end of the film she says, ‘There is something terrible in reality, but I don’t know what it is. Nobody tells me.’ Does the film tell us? And if it does, is it possible to verbalise or rationalise what it tells us – or is this ‘terrible thing’ communicable only through the juxtaposition of moving images (and sounds)?

What do you think of Monica Vitti’s performance? (I think it’s terrific.)
The film benefits a great deal from what is a pretty direct (and certainly prophetic) backdrop. Certainly the "alienation" theme that is always present inspired and foretold a great deal of conflict in the late 1960s across Western countries, but for him to use a slightly more specific device like industrialization and machines and pollution helped me understand this film in a way I haven't with other films.

I hate to sound like I'm minimizing the impact of this film on its fans, but if I could over-simplify it: Giuliana is the young girl in the story towards the end, that is told to her son. It represents the time in her life where modernity and industrialization began to trample the calm of nature. What was causing the "singing" she heard? "Everything. All the sounds." What does she constantly say she wants to bring with her if she runs away? "Everything." What causes her the most pain? Being alone.

And that boat. The boat with no people is important. Before that boat, it was regular, little sailboats with people she could identify. This one has nobody. The boat that has sailed across the world in the name of commerce has no face, it has no people, it has no soul. Her initial interaction with this industrial machine is totally faceless and mysterious. It doesn't have an immediate impact on her, but as her life goes on, she reaches a point where she is spending a great deal of time near ports and water, and the colossal ships that surround her disturb her. The sound of the foghorn and boats has replaced the "everything" singing of the shore and rocks and nature. Is the ending her attempt to face that fear? Almost joining one of those dreaded ships? Becoming one with it? A new nature? I'm not sure.

But the boat was the first sign of industrialization. And with a husband that profits off the destruction of the earth, and with her face to face with the pollution, how can she not feel that she is losing her grounding? That she is about to slip away? The earth she could once feel at peace with is now a threat. And of course, beyond a natural threat, the machinery and industrialization is helping to destroy man. To destroy the workers. The machines have come between the workers and a living. At the end, Corrado certainly notices it. The men he's about to send on a year-long trip in the name of extra profit are totally unaware of how alone they will be. They certainly don't give off a strong mental health look at this point. After a year of being denied most of the things they seem to want in their meeting (girls, calls with wives, etc.) what will become of them?

The exaggeration of Corrado and Ugo as oblivious men is surprisingly effective. The way the man in L'Avventura is more subtle, but here, the melodrama of Vitti's performance and her men's obliviousness seems to really help the film. She's having an existential crisis and even confesses a suicide attempt to Corrado, but what is their reaction? Totally blowing her off, asking her to calm down. And Antonioni gets excellent performances out of the characters to perfectly make us feel Guiliana's discomfort.

Red Desert is probably the Antonioni film that was clearest to me. I've seen La Camille..., Passenger, Blow-Up, and L'Avventura. I've seen the latter even on the big screen. I watched some of these films as I was getting into film, not really realizing what to look for in his films (only knew Blow-Up because of Hancock's soundtrack). Lord help me, I just don't seem to be into these films. And the first time I saw L'Avventura it blew me away, but upon re-watching, in a theater no less, I just was left cold. I don't know why. I have ADHD, and I'm sure there are dozens of films I've seen that maybe a little caffeine could help me pay better attention to. With this film, unlike the others, I found the beginning a bit hard to follow but the ending relatively easy. The film made sense to me, I think. (Did I "Get it" above?). Yet I'm cold, and left feeling little. Not unlike the way I feel about Bergman, Bresson, and Tarkovsky. That's okay I suppose. It leaves me with dozens of films to get into in the years to come. Setting the film against a context like industrialization of formerly natural landscapes helped me "get" the film a little better. But my love for Antonioni continues to wait.

(Sloper, you mention Dreyer, though, and he is indeed probably my favorite filmmaker! So it goes.)

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Re: Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

#142 Post by Sloper » Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:34 pm

Well what you say about the film certainly makes sense, so I'm sure you 'get' it, if such a thing is possible. I sometimes feel I'm no closer to being able to articulate what I think about this film, even after ten or more viewings...
Drucker wrote:To me these both have to do with the foundation of her world crumbling against her power. There is an uneasy dizziness to many of the scenes of the film. Point of views shift, and a scene which clearly features three characters comes to feature two. There are many with Giuliana, Corrado, and Ugo which do this. The scene in the house on the water seems to do this, too. Giuliana dizzingly moves between two men. Other women do it, too. Other men do it. Who is one loyal to in this situation? The overall issue is the instability of the world, exemplified by Corrado who continues to move around. Like the other Anotnioni films, there is certainly a resolution at the end of the film, but does it fix the fundamental issues that bring up the conflict? It seems that Giuliana is doing more of the same: moving around and adding things to her plate. More items. More work to do. More people to interact with. That seems to be her means of dealing with her issues she feels when alone. Unfortunately, there is no going back to the peace she felt before the machines and the streets and the industry came.
Yes, instability is a key issue here, and you’ve described very well some of the scenes that foreground the shifting relationships between people. L’avventura is Antonioni’s most overt exploration of this theme, but it pervades nearly all his work: that awe and terror in the face of mutability, especially when it comes to human affections, but also with regard to technology, industry, progress, an individual’s career, or simply (and most fundamentally) existence itself.

You’re absolutely right about Giuliana ‘adding things to her plate’, grasping at any chance of a connection – with any body or any thing – that presents itself to her, in the hope that she might eventually find something that doesn’t shift beneath her. Her abortive impulse to sail away at the end is the final expression of this, an echo of the earlier scene where she looks at the map and wonders whether there is somewhere in the world where she might feel safe and recover from that recurring sensation of drowning in quicksand. Perhaps there is solid ground in another country, another culture. But even then, she seemed aware that this was a fantasy, and that the instability plaguing her was too fundamental to be avoided simply by re-locating. In pragmatic terms, she needs to take the advice of her doctor and settle down: not by seeking and finding that solid ground that doesn’t exist, but by accepting her unstable environment, learning to avoid the pitfalls (the poisonous yellow smoke, whatever that stands for).
Drucker wrote:Giuliana is the young girl in the story towards the end, that is told to her son. It represents the time in her life where modernity and industrialization began to trample the calm of nature. What was causing the "singing" she heard? "Everything. All the sounds." What does she constantly say she wants to bring with her if she runs away? "Everything." What causes her the most pain? Being alone.

And that boat. The boat with no people is important. Before that boat, it was regular, little sailboats with people she could identify. This one has nobody. The boat that has sailed across the world in the name of commerce has no face, it has no people, it has no soul. Her initial interaction with this industrial machine is totally faceless and mysterious. It doesn't have an immediate impact on her, but as her life goes on, she reaches a point where she is spending a great deal of time near ports and water, and the colossal ships that surround her disturb her. The sound of the foghorn and boats has replaced the "everything" singing of the shore and rocks and nature. Is the ending her attempt to face that fear? Almost joining one of those dreaded ships? Becoming one with it? A new nature? I'm not sure.

But the boat was the first sign of industrialization. And with a husband that profits off the destruction of the earth, and with her face to face with the pollution, how can she not feel that she is losing her grounding? That she is about to slip away? The earth she could once feel at peace with is now a threat. And of course, beyond a natural threat, the machinery and industrialization is helping to destroy man. To destroy the workers. The machines have come between the workers and a living. At the end, Corrado certainly notices it. The men he's about to send on a year-long trip in the name of extra profit are totally unaware of how alone they will be. They certainly don't give off a strong mental health look at this point. After a year of being denied most of the things they seem to want in their meeting (girls, calls with wives, etc.) what will become of them?
Some really thought-provoking insights here – I need to do more thinking about the story Giuliana tells Valerio, so I’ll probably respond more fully another time.

One point I might dispute here: I’m not sure the phantom ship represents the first sign of industrialisation. Look at the other ships, the ones the girl is ‘used to’. They are coloured red and blue, exactly the same as the huge cargo ship Giuliana sees outside her window just after the story ends (and it’s a colour combination that occurs several times in the film). That transitional moment, where Giuliana stares hopelessly out at the harbour, supports your very astute reading of her identification with the girl in the story, the sense that she has lost that idyllic paradise, or that it represents an idealised alternative of her real environment. But the white-sailed ship seems to be the catalyst that awakens ‘everything’ and makes it sing; so I’m not sure that fits with the idea that it signifies encroaching modernity.

Three other points of interest in this sequence: it begins and ends with an out-of-focus shot, but otherwise every image (I think) remains in focus; the sand is pink (sabbia rosa), as are the rocks that are said to resemble human figures, in contrast to the deserto rosso of the title; and, staying on the subject of the ‘beautiful colours of nature’ that pervade this environment, notice how the gorgeous light blue (celeste again) of the sea transitions seamlessly into the pink sand on the beach, as the camera pans lovingly from one to the other...and compare this to the deliberate, harsh contrasts between the blocks of artificial colour in Giuliana’s world.

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