Restored to reveal once more its remarkable use of colour and electronic soundtrack, Antonioni’s study of a woman faltering in a rapidly changing environment was an influential landmark in the development of modern cinema.
Following L’avventura, La notte and L’eclisse, Monica Vitti again excels as Giuliana, a young woman who, after a possibly suicidal ‘accident’, drifts into a tentative affair with her husband’s associate, factory-owner Corrado (Richard Harris). Antonioni uses this encounter both as a means of evoking the anguished sensibility of an individual unable to adapt to a world which fails to live up to her dreams and as an index of the ills facing a society devoted to industralisation. With cinematographer Carlo Di Palma and art director Piero Poletto, Antonioni had rooms, furniture, fruit, even whole fields painted to obtain the precise atmosphere he wanted; the landscape around Ravenna, with its echoes of Dante, is transformed into a latter-day inferno, bizarrely beautiful yet malign. An astonishing achievement, it won the Golden Lion in Venice.