Red Desert

Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964, 120 mins

by Catherine Bresner

Movie still from Red Desert. A man and a woman stand on a sidewalk, with roses blurred in the foreground.

Monica Vitti is in technicolor.

She is walking slowly through the gray fog in her nude pumps.

Now she is touching a teapot. Now she is touching a metallic spoon. Now she is pressing the spoon against her bottom lip. Outside it is raining.

There are no more boats coming in. There are foghorns over the waves. Inside all the barefoot ladies are lounging in the red room.

Starboard is right. Port is left. Monica Vitti is certifiably lonesome. There are some brown gulls in the sky. They cut the sexual tension.

It takes a long time to be touched. When the touching starts you can tell it hurts. The shade of white on the waves is actually an off-white.

The fog in the air is elegiac. Yellow smoke leeches from the chemical factory. Something in the air is cooling and condensing.

Something is being lifted and put down in the exact same spot.


Catherine Bresner is a poet who takes pictures.