Architecture on Film: La Cupola [UK Premiere] + Red Desert + Introduction by Alice Rawsthorn

A double bill exploring director Michelangelo Antonioni’s complex love affair with industrial architecture and aesthetics. Introduced by Alice Rawsthorn.


07:00pm, Wednesday, 9 November 2016


10:30pm, Wednesday, 9 November 2016


Cinema 2
Barbican, Beech Street, London EC2Y 8AE



AF Members:
£7.50 (Please contact AF for promotional discount code)


Young Barbican:

Tel (9am-8pm):
+44 (0)20 7638 8891

This is a past event

A double bill exploring Antonioni’s complex love affair with industrial architecture and aesthetics, both on screen and in built reality.

Introduced by Alice Rawsthorn (design critic, International New York Times; author, Hello World: Where Design Meets Life).

Red Desert [Il Deserto Rosso]

Antonioni’s mid-century masterpiece Red Desert, starring Monica Vitti, sensually explores humanity’s psychological struggle at living in a technological landscape of its own making. The film, Antonioni’s first in colour, presents the ominous beauty of a landscape scarred by factories, smokestacks, concrete and cargo ships – a place where nature and people are equally subject to the destructive impacts of desire, industry and illness.

“There’s something terrible about the present, and I don’t know what it is.”
- Giuliana (Monica Vitti), Red Desert

Whilst the synthetic sounds of analogue synthesisers bubble underneath, Antonioni presents a sci-fi of the present, where modernity provokes malaise and the world, turned into a machine, finds itself out of joint. The emotional and psychological distress of Vitti’s character sits alongside a cast afflicted with ennui, struggling to adjust to the possibilities of living in a modern world in which Antonioni himself finds beauty.

“It’s too simplistic to say – as many people have done – that I am condemning the inhuman industrial world that oppresses individuals and leads them to neurosis. My intention… was to translate the poetry of that world, in which even factories can be beautiful. The lines and curves of factories and their chimneys can be more beautiful than the outline of trees.”
- Michelangelo Antonioni, in Entretien avec Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean-Luc Godard, Cahiers du cinéma n°160, Novembre 1964

The film will be shown from a 35mm print.

(Italy, 1964, Michelangelo Antonioni, 117 mins)

La Cupola [UK Premiere]

In 1971, Antonioni built a coastal escape for himself and his partner and muse Monica Vitti - star of Red Desert. The reinforced concrete Binidome, perched on a rugged and remote piece of Sardinian coastline, put his admiration of ‘the lines and curves of factories’ into practice, translating the director’s fabled cinematic exploration of industrial aesthetics into a physical form.

Volker Sattel’s La Cupola offers a portrait of the house, quietly interacting with the history and present of Antonioni’s now abandoned refuge – a home where the director wrote Zabriski Point and The Passenger; a costal escape which offers a kind of utopian mirror to the seaside hut of Red Desert. The dome’s former housekeeper recalls its construction and life, as the film lingers upon and activates the structure, which sits in the cliffs with an air of desolate painterly beauty akin to the physical and psychological landscapes of Antonioni’s own cinema.

(Germany, 2016, Volker Sattel, 40 mins)

Read Alice Rawsthorn's essay on Antonioni's Dome here, at Maharam Stories.