The Times Quotidian reviews Antonioni's The Red Desert.
Antonioni is not interested in symbols, but he is keenly observing a remarkable phase of human endeavor, where the forest is just something that gets in the way of industry, and has no business being there–any more than the difficult and maladaptive Guiliana. This problem of functioning/adapting within a context of the Heideggerian “enframing” becomes even more metaphysical than psychological.
The scene of the giant oil tanker sliding anomalously, monstrously, behind the pathetic stand of pines demonstrates the visceral and unnerving process that enframing engenders; the sea transforming from living waterway to standing reserve–a channel for commercial shipping that is open for exploitation. It follows thematically that Corrado, the reluctant entrepreneur with a surfeit of capital to float, finds a new business potential in the tankers for hauling his freight at low low rates–an inspiration he draws from the anchored ship of contagion outside the orgy hut.
The men who comprise the inner circle of Giuliana’s life are her husband Ugo, her 7-year old son Valerio, and Corrado, her lover. She is as it were, their “standing reserve”; for husband, a duty-bound desirable wife; for son, a serviceable mother even in her madness; and for Corrado, a mysterious challenge and conquest.