Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Red Desert" )

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/antonioni.htm
Italy / France 1964

 

Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960s panoramas of contemporary alienation were decade-defining artistic events, and Red Desert, his first color film, is perhaps his most epochal. This provocative look at the spiritual desolation of the technological age—about a disaffected woman, brilliantly portrayed by Antonioni muse Monica Vitti, wandering through a bleak industrial landscape beset by power plants and environmental toxins, and tentatively flirting with her husband’s coworker, played by Richard Harris—continues to keep viewers spellbound. With one startling, painterly composition after another—of abandoned fishing cottages, electrical towers, looming docked ships—Red Desert creates a nearly apocalyptic image of its time, and confirms Antonioni as cinema’s preeminent poet of the modern age.

***

Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1964 Red Desert has invited an array of critical reactions, such as its classification as an exhibition in the boring and the bleak, as well as its estimation as a thoughtful mood piece, and also its recognition on the level of masterpiece. As a rich, multi-layered work, the film readily accommodates a wide categorical continuum. Upon objective examination of Red Desert on an operational level—the story and the film technique that conveys it—the formal cues for addressing the functional level become apparent. In fact, meta-narrative cues will be found to emerge from inside the narrative as well, as Giuliana discusses the effects of color and sound.

The sketchy back story of Red Desert involves the protagonist, Giuliana, who has had a stay of unspecified length in some sort of mental hospital for some form of nervous breakdown after suffering shock from an otherwise minor car mishap purported to be an accident. While physically fine, Giuliana has found herself estranged from everyone and everything, particularly her own husband who has not understood and has not been there for her.

Excerpt by review from Fred Patton located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 4th 1964

Reviews       More Reviews        DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC vs. BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs.  Madman - Region 4 - PAL vs. Film Prestige - Region 0 - PAL

 Big thanks to Per-Olof Strandberg Gary Tooze and Gregory Meshman for the SD-DVD Screen Caps!

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) BFI - Region 'B' Blu-ray SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray THIRD

4) Madman - Region 4 - PAL FOURTH 

5) Film Prestige - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

NOTE: ozon.ru still does not ship DVDs outside of Russia

Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

BFI Video

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine # 522

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Madman

Region 4 - PAL

Film Prestige
Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:56:20 1:56:46 1:57:19.073 1:53:04 (4% PAL speedup) 1:52:56 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Blu-ray

Feature: 22.9 Gig, single-layered

Disc Size: 48,089,939,341 bytes

Feature Size: 34,787,149,824 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.21 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC 1080P

1:1.85 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.13 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.31 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Image Entertainment

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion Blu-ray

 

Bitrate:

 

Madman

 

Bitrate:

 

Film Prestige

 

Audio Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono Italian (PCM Mono - 48k/16bit) LPCM Audio Italian 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps /
24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, Russian DUB Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono

Subtitles English, none English, None English, None English, None Russian, Italian, None (NO ENGLISH)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Filmography of Antonioni, Vitti and Harris (text screens)

DVD Release Date: September 21, 1999
Snapper case

Chapters 16
 

Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:  1:1.85

1080P Blu-ray

Feature: 22.9 Gig, single-layered

 

Edition Details:
• New commentary by Italian film-scholar David Forgacs

• Award Ceremony/trailer (3:53) in HD!

•  Teaser trailer 1.33 (In HD)
• Illustrated color booklet containg essays, notes and Antonioni's recollections of making Red Desert

Blu-ray Release Date: October 20th, 2008
Standard Blu-ray
Case

Chapters 22

 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:  1:1.85

Disc Size: 48,089,939,341 bytes

Feature Size: 34,787,149,824 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.21 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC 1080P

 

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Italian film-scholar David Forgacs

• Archival interviews with director Michelangelo Antonioni and actress Monica Vitti
• Two short documentaries by Antonioni: Gente del Po, about a barge trip down the Po River, and N.U. about urban street cleaners
• Dailies from the original production
• Theatrical trailer (3:53)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film writer Mark Le Fanu, a reprinted interview with Antonioni conducted by Jean-Luc Godard, and writings by Antonioni on Gente del Po and N.U.

Blu-ray Release Date: June 22nd, 2010
Transparent Blu-ray
Case

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio: Madman

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1:1.85

Edition Details:
• Michelangelo Antoniuoni: A Portrait (55:37)
• Commentary by Rolando Caputo
• Trailers by Ozu, De Sica, Kiarostami, Visconti etc

DVD Release Date: October 11th, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 13

 

Release Information:
Studio: Film Prestige

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Archive footage in Italian from award ceremony (06.59)
• Archive footage in Italian from award ceremony titled 'Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow' (05.47)
• Biographies and Filmographies (text screens in Russian)
• Info about other titles on Antonioni Collection (text screens in Russian)
 

DVD Release Date:
Slim Digipack

Chapters 22

 

Comments NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION - Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray June 2010: We don't want to make too many definitive statements about the colors except to say that the softer palette Criterion retains more detail than the BFI (see Vitti's coat in the 3rd large capture and her scarf from behind in the last comparison capture). Side by side the BFI looks a shade embellished with boosted black levels - it has moments of looking too green and/or blue - where the Criterion is more red. Personally, I think the Criterion, which actually resembles the Madmen DVD hues, looks more accurate in 1080P. The Criterion transfer is almost double the size of the BFI and hence the bitrate is significantly higher. Both gave me a grand presentation but I felt the Criterion was more film-like - grain being a shade more even and consistent.

Audio-wise there is more parity with the BFI both sporting lossless linear PCM tracks. I noted no flaws with sound being clean and dialogue audible. Criterion expectantly offer English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified this disc as being a region 'A'-locked.

Criterion, naturally, advance in regards to supplements but they have the same excellent commentary by Italian film-scholar David Forgacs. We also get a 12-minute interview with director Michelangelo Antonioni about Red Desert as conducted by the French television series Les ecrans de la ville - first broadcast November 12th, 1964. In a 9-minute interview with actress Monica Vitti, from the French television series Cinemas, cinemas, she discusses her relationship with Michelangelo Antonioni and her approach to acting. This interview was first broadcast March 10th, 1990. Kinda cool is almost 30 minutes of 'Dailies' (without audio in b/w and color). It shows us the director's precision with framing and composition. Two short documentaries by Antonioni are thrown in: Gente del Po running 11-minutes, about a barge trip down the Po River, and N.U. about the lives of urban street cleaners - lasting 12-minutes. Lastly, on the digital front, is an original Italian trailer for the film for almost 4-minutes. Criterion provide a booklet featuring an essay by film writer Mark Le Fanu, a reprinted interview with Antonioni conducted by Jean-Luc Godard, and writings by Antonioni on Gente del Po and N.U.

I love this film more every time I re-visit it. I could watch it every couple of months if I had the time. I really appreciated those extra Criterion supplements - especially the two interviews and short films. I imagine the region coding will force people to choose whichever disc applicable - but for those zealous enough to have a region free Blu-ray player I think a double dip for the Criterion is justifiable. We, obviously give an enthusiastic endorsement and I am salivating for more Antonioni in 1080P. 

****

 

ADDITION: BFI Blu-ray - October 08': Well, it's here! Antonioni, my favorite director, on Blu-ray!

This is a screener from BFI and I can't do a complete review at present but can pass on some information and details. Firstly, I can confirm that this is definitely region B - hence the only way I can view it is through HTPC (BenQ on its last legs) but I am having some difficulty with the audio - not a fault of the Blu-ray, but with my set-up as this is not my preferred method of viewing. I've, admittedly, let it go to pot.

Image-wise the colors are different than all the SD-DVD releases. The image is somewhat darker and expectantly shows more detail. I'm certain I'll be getting emails about the color hues from experts who are more knowledgeable on the original palette than I am. To me it looks magnificent and has far more depth than I have ever seen before. Antonioni's imagery is even more mesmerizing on this new Blu-ray - I could have taken screen captures all day. There is some heavy grain - at times the visuals come forth like they are being shown on a thick plush carpet. Magnificent! I noted a few dirt marks and speckles but overall the image is fabulous - I felt like I was watching it for the first time sitting on the floor of my basement hypnotized by the camera movement, pauses and Monica Vitti's face (even though I have seen Red Desert at least a half-dozen times). I probably only watched about 40 minutes this way and then ran it on my computer monitor to match the captures... with a similar reaction. I noted no DNR or edge-enhancement in this single-layered 1080P transfer. I don't think it is perfect but by far the best it has ever looked on digital.

Audio has a new commentary by Italian film-scholar David Forgacs which I will hope to indulge in soon but I may need to take it to a friends to accomplish this. I was able to view the trailer supplements (both a teaser and one starting with an award ceremony) - both are in HD.

I apologize for the limitations in this review but hope we can complete it soon. Stay tuned!

 - Gary Tooze

****

 

ON THE SD-DVDs:

ADDITION: Madman - Region 4 - PAL - October 06': NOTE: Thanks to Thomas for providing these comments originally posted on the Criterion message board.

There is a serious flaw in the disc which has not been addressed in your review. Given the fine-toothed attention usually paid to picture quality on your site, I believe the sound quality deserves the same level of attention:

"One thing I have not yet seen commented on is the sound. The sound, unfortunately, is atrocious. Thinking back, for a moment, to the Image R1 DVD, the sound on that disc is very old and worn, with a heavy layer of hiss and a high-pitched whine, not dissimilar to an old 78 record. However, one does at least get used to this constant noise after a few minutes. For the Madman DVD, it seems they have not restored the original audio stems (one must assume these to be lost) but, rather, have applied crude, sledgehammer digital noise reduction to the entire soundtrack, getting rid of the surface noise entirely, but leaving all sounds below a certain decibel level - including all the atmospheres - floating in a wash of digital murk... The sad thing is, with half an ear and a bit of care, the Image track could have been cleaned up a fair way, without such ruinous results - it is all a question of balance... I'm not sure if Madman themselves are responsible for this particular travesty, or if it is a feature of the restoration itself. It should be noted that the R1 No Shame DVD of Story of a Love Affair suffers from the same problem, so I'm inclined to believe that the problem lies with the Italians... the problem is present throughout, but, for an easy comparison, listen to the scene where the little girl is on the beach. listen to the sound of the waves. on the Image disc you will hear a natural wave atmos. on the clavis disc, the waves sound bubbly and artificial, as if listening through a tube. this is what can result if someone carelessly applies a noise-reduction filter, such as Waves.X-Noise."

n.b. with regards to the picture, from the look of your screen-caps, the compression on the Madman disc is inferior to the Russian edition (I do not have this, so cannot comment on the sound).

Kirk says: "I caught a screening of "Red Desert" at Cinematheque Ontario at the end of this summer and it exhibited the exact sound problems described on DVDBeaver's comparison. This was a print I was watching, which looked pretty good at that, but definitely had something "off" about it in terms of the soundtrack. The Cinematheque programme indicates that "Red Desert" was "Copy printed from materials restored by Mediaset - Cinema Forever."

***


 

Pepsi says:
The Madman DVD is in every way a big step ahead the old Image transfer.

The Madman is generally excellent, but with these faults: It seems that the film negative has shrunk in some parts, making a left to right movement. These parts the digital media can't follow, making heavy aliasing when the picture is in rapid motion. The other occasional problem is that there's some fault's in the color timing: The colors change one frame to early, making the last picture before the cut almost 50% brighter than the picture before. These make the cut "jump" or "blink", as there were some faults in the continuity. It makes some picture changes more clumpy as intended. But these are minor faults, with the overall decent picture.

The sound compared to the image DVD is much more dynamic, and without "hiss". Some minor "pops" from the optical sound can be heard.

The subtitles are in yellow and in my opinion ugly (capture posted soon). Overall recommended!

NOTE: We will comment on the extras and commentary soon!

NOTE: The documentary on the R4 Red Desert is the same as from the Criterion L'ECLISSE disc, called The Eye That Changed Cinema.

***

The Image Entertainment disc has long been one of the most sought after DVDs consistently fetching outrageous prices on EBay and Amazon's Marketplace. Why? Firstly, like many Image Entertainment DVDs, it has had its run and is now out-of-print... and it also appears to be the only commercially digital version with English subtitles in any region at present. Perhaps this comparison can take some of the luster on this coveted, and perhaps frivolous, auctioned purchase.

Firstly, the Image Entertainment disc is cropped on all 4 sides - heavily on both side edges. The image disc has also had some manipulations showing pronounced edge enhancement thus destroying the color scheme - blues have become browns/ grays turned to yellows, skin tones are orange etc etc.. Even the subtitle font is a failure next to the Russian DVD, which by the way, also has better extra features. Of course, the big problem is that the Russian DVD does NOT have English subtitles. Our advice is to wait for a new release hopefully with the acceptable image of the Film Prestige (a port of the Italian disc?) and including optional English subtitles as well as some valued extra features.

 - Gary Tooze

 

Criterion Blu-ray
 

 

BFI Blu-ray
 

 

DVD Menus

 

Madman - Region 4 - PAL

 



(Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Film Prestige - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' Blu-ray SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray THIRD

4) Madman - Region 4 - PAL FOURTH 

5) Film Prestige - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 Subtitle Sample - not exact frame - cannot obtain Blu-ray captures with subtitle yet...

 

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' Blu-ray SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray THIRD

4) Madman - Region 4 - PAL FOURTH 

5) Film Prestige - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' Blu-ray SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray THIRD

4) Madman - Region 4 - PAL FOURTH 

5) Film Prestige - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' Blu-ray SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray THIRD

4) Madman - Region 4 - PAL FOURTH 

5) Film Prestige - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' Blu-ray SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray THIRD

4) Madman - Region 4 - PAL FOURTH 

5) Film Prestige - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 


1) BFI - Region 'B' Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 'B' Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Michelangelo Antonioni films on DVD (NTSC) - CLICK COVERS or REVIEW BUTTON for more information

 


Recommended Books for Michelangelo Antonioni reading (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

DVD Box Covers

NOTE: ozon.ru still does not ship DVDs outside of Russia

Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

BFI Video

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine # 522

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Madman

Region 4 - PAL

Film Prestige
Region 0 - PAL

Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Criterion Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-rays

Extras: Criterion Blu-ray

 




 

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!