«Tout chante» ou l’entrelacement des sensations dans Le Désert rouge de Michelangelo Antonioni

Véronique BUYER


I analyze Michelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert through the main character’s way of perceiving the world. Giuliana is depressed and this particular state changes her relations to the world: her senses are overdeveloped and she has trouble understanding the complex information they are permanently sending her. The colours are the first clue of Giuliana’s specific relation with the world. Antonioni creates a new reality by painting each element of the set which echoes with Giuliana’s interiority. The film appeals to the spectators to develop an attentive kind of perception in order to connect with the main character and to share, for a time, her vision of the world. The sight is a central issue in Red Desert. Giuliana compensates her difficulty to understand the changing world by remarkable strength and power in her act of seeing. I analyze her specific relation with the objects she sees with the help of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s work about synesthesia and Gilles Deleuze’s time-image. The sight is not the only sense Giuliana develops trying to reconnect with the reality. She has a hypersensitivity which creates immediate desires she cannot control. She really feels every detail. Even the words become a reality she can touch. Her hypersensitivity leads her to hallucinate in the film. The spectator shares with her a hallucination which melts sounds and colours in a synesthesic moment. Finally, I consider the famous scene of the little girl on the pink beach. This scene comes from the story Giuliana tells her sick son and represents her way of understanding the world. Colours circulate in a dreamlike landscape where a mysterious singing voice emerges.

Keywords: Michelangelo Antonioni, Red Desert, colours, painting, senses, synesthesia, Paul Cézanne, attentive perception, hypersensitivity, hallucinations