USA Today - 12/01/1989
"...One of the most justifiably famous color films ever..."
Empire - 12/01/2008 4 stars out of 5 -- "Antonioni makes brilliant use of design, deep-focus and zoom photography to convey Vitti's gnawing neuroses."
A.V. Club - 06/30/2010
"The director's first film in color captures a land utterly transformed. But it never passes explicit judgment, finding an eerie beauty in the new world of metal and smoke." -- Grade: A
Total Film - 09/01/2012 3 stars out of 5 -- "Fans of Antonioni will appreciate his radical use of colour, his long contemplative takes and his relentless gaze at urban alienation."
RED DESERT (IL DESERTO ROSSO), a postindustrialist masterpiece from director Michelangelo Antonioni, his first film in color, stars Monica Vitti as Giuliana, the disturbed wife of a factory owner, Ugo (Carlo Chionetti). Antonioni creates a bleak environment of the Italian countryside, where the natural landscape surrounding Ugo's factory is clouded in fog and covered in black pollution. The low scratching and churning sound of the factory machines is a constant throughout the film, set off by the electronic beeps and strange female singing that Giuliana--who is losing her mind--hears in her head. Supposedly recovering from shock after a minor car accident, Giuliana's dementia isn't getting any better; new developments in technology, production, and industry, which fascinate Ugo and his business associate, Corrado (Richard Harris), are foreign and threatening to Giuliana. However, Ugo is gentle and loving to Giuliana, giving her the freedom to wander wherever her fragile psyche leads her. Corrado is inexplicably drawn to Giuliana, and he develops a desperate, awkward friendship with her that eventually leads to a small affair. In the end, the dank monotony of the port where they live only alienates Giuliana further, sending her deeper into her delirium. A cold and haunting film with grating sound effects and odd visuals that illustrate Giuliana's psychosis, RED DESERT is an Antonioni standout that stays in the viewer's mind long after the movie ends.
Michelangelo Antonioni's RED DESERT is a somber tale about Giuliana (Monica Vitti), a young wife and mother struggling to understand her crumbling psyche, as she slowly loses her mind in the midst of a deteriorating environment. Set in a stark gray, heavily industrialized area of rural Italy where Giuliana's husband, Ugo (Carlo Chionetti) works at a factory, and receives an extended visit from a business partner, Corrado (Richard Harris) with whom Giuliana has a strange affair. A cold and haunting film, with complex, unorthodox sound effects and unusual visuals that illustrate Giuliana's psyche, RED DESERT is an Antonioni masterpiece that will linger powerfully in the viewer's mind well after the film has ended.