Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1964 masterpiece, Red Desert (Il deserto rosso), was the director’s color film debut, and he chose an evocative setting and subject for the occasion: the coastal city of Ravenna and the industrialists that soiled its landscape with toxic runoff from the giant power plants that popped up near the shore not long after World War II.
Monica Vitta plays Giuliana, the delicate wife of Ugo (Carlo Chionetti), a distant man in charge of a power plant that seems to lay waste to everything around it. We meet Guiliana shortly after her discharge from a hospital, where she was receiving treatment for shock following a car crash. Vulnerable and on edge, she needs more than her cold, indifferent husband can muster, and she tries to get it from Corrado (Richard Harris), her husband’s business partner. But the affair only serves to further fray Guiliana’s raw nerves.