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Revisiting Classical Theories of Screen Acting:
Béla Balázs on Monica Vitti

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Frank P. Tomasulo

The cinema of Michelangelo Antonioni has produced a voluminous scholarly literature. Most of that erudition has focused on the director’s recurring themes (modern alienation, gender relations, fear of nuclear war, the state of the Italian bourgeoisie, Nature vs. Civilization, etc.) and innovative film style (loose narrative structure, long takes, modernist montages, stylized yet realistic mise-en-scene, poetic and painterly use of color, prominence of landscapes, etc.). Few of these director studies address the question of acting in the filmmaker’s oeuvre, a lack that has been common for most academic writings on cinema until fairly recently (and still is to a certain extent). 


For example, in a special issue of the Canadian film journal CineAction devoted to screen performance, Florence Jacobowitz and Richard Lippe write: “Performance remains one of the areas that serious film criticism has yet to explore. This may be attributable to the difficulties of articulating the mechanics of acting styles and the allusiveness of distinguishing a star’s presence and constructed identity from the activity of performing.”[1] Interdisciplinary cinema, theater, and television scholars should therefore play a more prominent role in demystifying the concrete creative work and professional choices made by talented (and even untalented) actors and actresses. Certainly, a few books and articles on screen acting are now available, but most are still devoted to “star studies” and the analysis of performers’ personas and characters, not their actual acting techniques. Although that situation has changed somewhat since Jacobowitz and Lippe wrote those words in 1997, and a developing academic literature on screen acting has evolved in recent years, much more can still be done to describe and analyze the actual artistic decisions made by film (and television) performers—and by their directors.


Needless to say, the representation of human subjectivity has always been one of the primary goals of art, whether narrative or pictorial. And the cinema, especially the silent cinema, inexorably changed the depiction of the inner lives of its depicted characters. Those changes were cataloged early on by the Hungarian film theorist Béla Balázs. (Many of Balázs’s more succinct quotations on screen performance are incorporated in this essay.)


In terms of performance, then, the question is, as Judith Butler put it in a different context, “How does a body figure on its surface the very invisibility of its hidden depth?”[2] In brief, in the classical Hollywood cinema, a woman is her body, whereas in the modernist European cinema, she is her “soul.” Think Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth as opposed to Anna Karina and Liv Ullman. Whereas the Hollywood starlet plays to the camera in an alluring fashion, the actress in an Antonioni film, for example, is often demurely still, the camera moving around her, seeking meaning in her every facial expression and subtlest gesture.

Before addressing the specificity of acting codes and performance tropes in Antonioni’s films, a brief summary of his Red Desert (Il deserto rosso, 1964) may be in order since today’s scholars, students, and cineastes may not be as familiar with the Antonioni canon as they were during the heyday of his international acclaim and academic attention. Such a précis may also serve as a welcome introduction to the complex character of the film’s no-surname protagonist Giuliana (Monica Vitti). 


The film begins in Ravenna, Italy, with Giuliana walking with her young son, Valerio (Valerio Bartoleschi), near a petrochemical plant managed by her husband Ugo (Carlo Chionetti). The noisy and inhuman industrial structures provide a context for many of the cold characters’ lack of affect. Soon we are introduced to Corrado Zeller (Richard Harris), one of Ugo’s technocratic business associates, who is told about Giuliana’s recent auto accident, which had a profound negative psychological effect on her mental state.


When we see Giuliana again, she does seem lonely, isolated, and, indeed, neurotic. Her neuroses come to the fore during a scene in a small riverside shack, where a group of would-be orgiasts freely joke and speak about sexual topics before destroying the red interior of the tiny cabin. When Ugo leaves on a business trip, Giuliana begins to spend more time with Corrado and shares her vague anxieties with him. Eventually, she ends up in his hotel room bed, where they make seemingly unsatisfying love, a state represented by the sight of a lonely, black-clothed figure walking the nighttime streets below. Needless to say, even this “intimacy” does not relieve Giuliana’s sense of solitude.


The next day, Giuliana wanders over to a dockside ship where she meets a foreign sailor and tries to communicate her feelings to him, but he cannot understand her words. She says, “We are all separate.” At that point, Giuliana seems to be completely alone and at her lowest state. Sometime later, Giuliana is again walking with her son near the chemical plant. Valerio notices a smokestack emitting poisonous yellow smoke and asks if birds die in the toxic gases. Giuliana tells him that birds have learned not to fly near those deadly emissions


The movie’s narrative events, character actions, and (minimalist) dialogue have been dissected by international critics and scholars for decades; yet few have analyzed how acting is used in the service of Antonioni’s themes and characterizations. In the case of Red Desert, the question becomes how actress Monica Vitti’s external performance tropes, as molded by her director, convey the internal pathology of her character’s psyche. How does the actress portray the symptoms, the tangible indices, not only of her individual neurosis but of the malattia dei sentimenti (the “sick Eros”) of an entire class and an entire gender?

One way Vitti accomplishes this is by portraying the minutiae of quotidian existence, the sheer phenomenological facticity of human being in class society, especially in facial close-ups. As Balázs explained, “Behind the external, conventional characteristics, the close-up revealed the hidden, impersonal class traits in individual faces. These class characteristics . . . all show human beings, human types.”[3] Thus, without using traditional depth psychology (the basis of much Method acting); the melodramatic “mugging” and stentorian performance style of the stage; the declamatory, “hammy” pantomimes of the silent cinema; or the “psychological realism” inherent in the verisimilar and naturalistic performance codes of Hollywood, Vitti’s subtle performance is attentive to “geography” and to Antonioni’s cinematic means by which character can be articulated. In a sense, then, ontology and cinematography become psychology.

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Mise-en-scène and understated gestures reveal character (image capture provided by author)

Certainly, all film directors shape the performances of their actors and actresses by utilizing wardrobe, hairstyle, and props. What sets Antonioni apart is that he relies equally on mise-en-scène, découpage, camera angles, color, lighting, set design, soundtrack articulations, music, and pared-down performances to construct his singular cinematic language of characterization. On the one hand, his characters may be viewed as abstractions—Contemporary Woman or Bourgeois Man—without individual identities. This is what Balázs called “the ‘typing’ of class faces and facial expressions.[4] On the other hand, in Red Desert the characters can be judged, albeit without the mitigating emotional baggage of empathy and identification. In this sort of Brechtian cinematic universe, the filmmaker’s actors tend to represent embodied themes rather than flesh-and-blood people. In such a universe, in which screen acting is only one part of a directorial language system, characters can be both external and internal, real and symbolic, actantes and personnages (to use Roland Barthes’s distinction). This “mixed use” is especially relevant to a discussion of film performance, given both the resolute externality of the motion picture apparatus and the filmmaker’s and performers’ assumed need to express the private emotional lives of their characters.


A basic tenet of Stanislavskian/Method acting is that the actor is the auteur,[5] or, as Tony Barr has said, “The actor’s primary function is to communicate ideas and emotion to an audience.”[6] However, in the work of Antonioni, the communication of ideas and emotion is the job of the filmmaker, not the performer. Antonioni has stated this directly: “Actors feel somewhat uncomfortable with me; they have the feeling that they’ve been excluded from my work. And, as a matter of fact, they have been.”[7] This may be because the director also believes that his actors are only one part of a larger plastic composition: “I regard [the performer] as I regard a tree, a wall, or a cloud, that is, as just one element in the overall scene.”[8] This may be why Antonioni has explained his work methods on the set as follows: “The film actor ought not to understand, he ought to be . . . The director owes the actor no explanations except general ones about the character and the film. It is dangerous to go into details.”[9]

Thus, this essay will focus on the anti-”Methodist” (Cassavetes) modernist means by which Antonioni uses actors and performance to convey meaning and character in Monica Vitti’s performance as Giuliana in Red Desert. This zero-degree acting style is defined as modernist in part because it fits the pattern in modern art that was so succinctly characterized by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as “less is more.” In fact, in Antonioni’s cinema, all the conventional techniques of the performer’s “instrument” are pared down and minimized: facial expression, gesture, body language and movement, costume, and, especially, dialogue. Nonetheless, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith is correct to say that “Antonioni’s films can be described as texts written on the body of the actor.”[10] This “silent treatment” can best be explored in a four-minute sexual sequence in her lover Corrado’s bedroom.

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image captures provided by author

As the director once said, “Often, an actor viewed against a wall or a landscape, seen through a window, is much more eloquent than the line you’ve given him.”[11] Giuliana is often viewed against a wall or a landscape in Red Desert, whether it be in a cramped apartment, shack, or shop, or in more expansive sites such as an industrial park or factory floor; as such, she is frequently surrounded (and entrapped) by her environment. That environment “speaks” her distress even more than her words, gestures, and facial expressions. For example, in the seaside shack, Giuliana’s face is framed so that the red walls and the ceiling impinge on her brain, trapping her alone and alienated in the pseudo-orgy scene. Her blank expression and tentative hand gesture reveal a woman confined in an unloving and unfulfilling marriage and within the larger social predicament of Italian patriarchy. In the protagonist’s subtle expression, one can almost see Erik Erikson’s famous dictum “the patient of today suffers most under the problem of what he should believe in and who he should—or, indeed, might—be or become; while the patient of early psychoanalysis suffered most under inhibitions which prevented him from being what and who he thought he knew he was.”[12] Even the flat “pancake” lighting on her face and hand conveys a staleness and dreariness that she can hardly admit to herself.

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Flat lighting on Giuliana’s face and hand conveys an inner flatness (image capture provided by author)

And although the poet W. B. Yeats wrote that “the marriage bed is the symbol of the solved antimony,” in Antonioni’s erotic universe that sexual sublation, far from reconciling opposites, usually produces more problems and conflicts. Early on, Freud theorized about female sexuality and emphatically wrote that “the great majority of severe neuroses in women have their origins in the marriage bed.”[13] In the same sequence, the character’s gestures reveal similar uncertain feelings. Her hand to her mouth reveals a puzzlement, a hesitancy about both her immediate situation in the shack and her entire life. That same exact gesture is seen again in her own apartment, suggesting that her condition is ongoing, whether her backdrop is hot red or cool blue-gray.

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image captures provided by author

Likewise, when both hands are positioned cocoon-style around her head, they provide an aesthetic frame for her visage but also display her acute aural vulnerability in the sexually charged cabin. By covering her ears, she almost appears to want to block out the flirtatious verbal innuendoes and suggestive talk about aphrodisiacs among the would-be revelers.

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image capture provided by author

Another instance would be the telling image below: an out-of-focus mechanical background that imprisons her face visually (and pyramidally), adding depth and meaning to Giuliana’s otherwise ambiguous countenance. She is hardly aware of what causes her distress and neurosis, but the attentive viewer will make the connections among the foreground, background, and mise-en-scène and discern her predicament. As Murray Pomerance summarized it: “She is, in fact, the world that happens to her.”

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image capture provided by author

Instances like this abound, in which shot composition, color, and other cinematic techniques reveal character more than any overt dialogue. As a result, the performances can be toned down considerably and still convey necessary, albeit ambiguous, information about Giuliana’s inner state of mind. Images of entrapment dot Antonioni’s oeuvre at every turn. Red Desert contains more than its fair share of such subtle compositions in which the mise-en-scène provides architectural barriers and walls, doors, windows, and ceilings that delimit the space of the protagonist. These “objective correlatives” are the equivalent of such things that appear in classical and modern literature.

The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an “objective correlative”; in other words, a set of objects,
a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which
must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.

                                                                                                                                                                        —T. S. Eliot, “Hamlet and his Problems”


It has been frequently reported that T. S. Eliot’s concept of the “objective correlative” pertained to those emotions of the author that were represented by various objects and events in the fictional world. In point of fact, Eliot’s original citation of the term explicitly delineated its use in the depiction of the inner mental lives of characters (and, consequently, of the recipients of the fiction—readers, auditors, or spectators). He specifically noted the sensory impressions that convey Macbeth’s grief, Lady Macbeth’s somnambulism, and Hamlet’s madness. Although Eliot focused on classical characters, his formulation of the objective correlative as a critical stance came out of a distinctly modernist sensibility.


Many authors have recognized the limitations, even the outright inadequacy, of speech and language to transmit emotion and other inner events in the modern era. They therefore turned to the use of physical correlatives to express their characters’ thought processes or mental states in an attempt to externalize the internal, to objectify the subjective. This procedure also provided a more indirect and realistic means than overt authorial comment by which to establish consciousness or mood. Flaubert is often cited as a prime practitioner of this technique; Madame Bovary’s wedding bouquet, Charles’s hat, and Binet’s lathe are oft-invoked examples of the objective correlative.


The Italian author Alberto Moravia once noted the contemporary connection between human emotions and inanimate objects as follows, “The expression of anguish does not require men, but it does need things—or, to phrase it differently, men reduced to the condition of things.”[14] Antonioni rarely seeks an authentic collaboration with his performers or encourages them to improvise on the set. Giuliana’s “repetition compulsion” is evident in several scenes through a repeated gesture—hugging herself in a protective manner, etc.


In classic Hollywood movies, characters often emerge not only from their physical actions but from their bodies in the form of Searlean speech acts. Often, these speech acts can be interpreted through the Barthesian “grain of the voice,” those individual and recognizable characteristics of a performer’s persona manifested in his or her speech patterns (e.g., Greta Garbo’s accent, Marlon Brando’s “mumbling,” Marilyn Monroe’s breathiness, Wallace Beery’s raspy drawl). Yet Antonioni’s methods of working with actors are such that “they appear to recite their lines with the monotonous detachment of non-performers who have no involvement with what they are saying.”[15] Therefore, in the parlance of the acting profession, these are often characters without any subtext.


As Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “Words are also deeds.”[16] This idea has important implications for the cinema. Especially in classical Hollywood cinema, words are often deeds, in that wall-to-wall scripted dialogue is often the predominant device by which dramatic action, narrative significance, and characters’ emotions are conveyed. However, Wittgenstein’s dictum has a corollary: silence is also a deed. In contrast to, say, talkathon Hollywood movies, Antonioni’s cinema is replete with silence, often becoming the principal agency of communication in a scene. Indeed, the lack of verbal articulation in his films subverts the traditional codes of theatrical and cinematic melodrama, in which characters’ feelings and ideas are expressed (ad nauseam?) through speech and “on-the-nose” dialogue.


The near-muteness of Antonioni’s characters “speaks” to a “failure t’ communicate” between alienated monads. In blocking his two-shots so that characters are frequently positioned on opposite sides of the screen or facing away from each other, often without speaking to each other, the director enables the audience to see both performers’ facial expressions while also suggesting that there is a physical and emotional gulf between them, that they fail to “see eye to eye.” It can also be said that the characters’ silences bespeak a vacuity, an inner emptiness, in the filmmaker’s “hollow men” (and semi-hollow women). In short, many of Antonioni’s people are characters without character.


Writing of the last years of the silent cinema, Balázs wrote of viewing “not only masterpieces of silent monologue but of mute dialogue as well. We saw conversations between the facial expressions of two human beings who understood the movements of each other’s faces better than each other’s words and could perceive shades of meaning too subtle to be conveyed in words.”[17] This verbal reticence precisely illustrates Vitti’s approach to Giuliana’s neurosis throughout much of the film. Even when dialogue is present, as Antonioni explained, “A speech which the actor makes in profile gives a different weight from one spoken full-face.”[18]

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Characters who do not face each other convey “alienation” (image capture provided by author)

On another level, this characterological “silent treatment” suggests that any belief in a shared language system that enables human beings to interact is an illusion. Serlean speech acts may be fine, Antonioni may be trying to tell us, but nonspeech is also an act in a world of ambiguous language relations and debased public discourse. Furthermore, as a film artist, the director appears to give greater emphasis to the mise-en-scène, sound effects, understated gestural codes (what Brecht would call gestes), and music--leaving the gaps to be filled in by the spectator.


Thus, in Antonioni’s universe, the voicelessness of the characters signals that words spoken from the screen are no longer the only way to create a character. Spectators used to the conventions of the Hollywood cinema therefore go through a process of defamiliarization as they attempt to understand characters who hardly communicate in verbal language. The director’s near-aphasic people become tabulae rasae whose quietude requires a viewer who is highly attentive and projective, one who is willing to read the visual and sonic fields for clues to character.


Having labeled the director’s minimalist audio field as modernist and equated it with a “less-is-more” aesthetic, there may be a counterfactual, equally valid argument: Antonioni’s “sounds of silence” can be construed as a realistic technique. After all, real-life human beings do not generally converse as much as fictional characters in the movies. The characters’ muteness could therefore be explained as an essentially realist project of verbal representation. In this sense, Antonioni’s use of mime is mimetic.


Antonioni’s silences are not dramaturgical pregnant pauses, those emotionally coded (and emotionally loaded) moments that interrupt the free flow of chatter so common to Western theatrical traditions; indeed, speech in Antonioni acts as the interruption of the free flow of quiet. If his people are not completely silent, they nonetheless exist in a state that psychoanalysis characterizes as parole vide (empty speech), whose function is to express the relation that its lack of significance elides--that is, to contribute to an aural vacuum, a void that must be filled by gesture, music, and sound effects, as well as the spectator’s own perusal of the images and scenes.


Thus, the solitude of Antonioni’s characters, rather than their interactions, is foregrounded. A case in point is the relatively wordless sequence on the dock in Red Desert. Here, the evanescent fog and the general immobility of the characters (especially Giuliana) convey their interior states of mind, along with the aforementioned lack of conversation among the principals. As Balázs averred, “The act of keeping silent is often an intentional, dramatically expressive act, and always an indication of some quite definite state of mind . . . Speaking much or little is a difference in characterization.”[19] For example, the fog sequence, with almost no dialogue, suggests Giuliana’s neurosis and the lack of communication among the three principal characters. 

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image capture provided by author

Although a somewhat clichéd element in Antonioni criticism, these images (and the minimalist performances that accompany them) convey both the filmmaker’s recurring thematic emphasis on “alienation” and the neurotic anxiety that Andrew Sarris dubbed “Antoniennui.” The fog sequence is thus emblematic of Antonioni’s redirection of traditional acting paradigms. As described in both classical writing manuals and “Methodist” performance primers, actors need to have enough information to establish a “backstory,” a life history, of their characters that they can use in developing the delivery of their lines. This is not found in Red Desert; instead, the character stands before the world (and her friends and lovers) as sui generis­.


This is silent acting at its most sophisticated, exemplifying what Béla Balázs called “the silent soliloquy”: “In the [silent] film, the mute soliloquy of the face speaks even when the hero is not alone, and herein lies a new great opportunity for depicting man. The poetic significance of the soliloquy is that it is a manifestation of mental, not physical, loneliness.”[20] Similarly, Angela Dalle Vacche has called this common performance trope in the cinema of Antonioni “visual ventriloquism,” whereby the director “speaks through the actor’s body.”[21] If, as actor Alan Bates suggests, “Thought does register on camera,”[22] then we should be able to discern what Giuliana, or Claudia (L’avventura [1960]), Lidia (La Notte, 1961]), Vittoria (L’eclisse [1962]), or Thomas (Blow-Up [1964]) is thinking—sans dialogue or overt facial expression. Indeed, Antonioni’s predilection for “NO WORDS,” the slogan painted on the stolen airplane in Zabriskie Point, is part of his post-linguistic cinematic language and nonverbal aesthetic.

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“NO WORDS” suggests Antonioni’s post-linguistic aesthetic (image capture provided by author)

Performance figures into this equation through the de-emphasis on speech and theatrical gesture throughout Red Desert, as well as other Antonioni films. In contrast to, say, Federico Fellini, whose histrionic characters use broad, stereotypical Italianate gestures and wear their hearts on their sleeves, Antonioni uses a more limited “palette.” They are part of an overall visual and color design, not mere “talking heads.” The last word is Antonioni’s: “Films are always in prose. Why? One could tell a story by images alone, without words, as pure as poetry.”[23]


[1] Richard Lippe and Florence Jacobowitz, “Introduction,” Special Issue on Performance, Cineaction 44 (July 1997): n.p.


[2] Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (London: Routledge, 1990), 171.


[3] Béla Balázs, Theory of the Film: Character and Growth of a New Art, translated by Edith Bone  (New York: Dover, 1970), 82.


[4] Balázs, Theory of the Film, 82.


[5] Sharon Marie Carnicke, “Lee Strasberg’s Paradox of the Actor,” in Screen Acting, edited by Alan Lovell and Peter Krämer, 75-87 (London: Routledge, 1999), 80.


[6] Tony Barr, Acting for the Camera (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), 3.


[7] Michelangelo Antonioni, Blow-Up (New York: Lorrimer, 1971), 8.


[8] Michelangelo Antonioni, “A Talk with Michelangelo Antonioni on His Work,” in The Architecture of Vision: Writings and Interviews on Cinema, edited by Carlo di Carlo and Giorgio Tinazzi, 21-47 (New York: Marsilio, 1996), 36.


[9] Pierre Leprohon, The Italian Cinema, translated by Roger Greaves and Oliver Stallybrass (New York: Praeger, 1963) 101-103.


[10] Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, L’Avventura (London: British Film Institute, 1997), 43.


[11] Antonioni, “A Talk with Michelangelo Antonioni,”162.

[12]  Erik H. Erikson, Childhood and Society, 2nd ed. (New York: Norton, 1963), 279.

[13] Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud, Studies on Hysteria, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 2., translated and edited by James Strachey (London: Hogarth, 1953-66), 246.


[14] Alberto Moravia, Man as an End: A Defense of Humanism, translated by Bernard Wall (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1966).

[15] Michael Alan Scott, “Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger: A Film Analysis,” Ed.D. dissertation, Columbia University Teachers College, 1979, 88.


[16] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, translated by D. F. Pears and B. F. McGuinnes (London: Routledge, 1961), 53.

[17] Balázs, Theory of the Film, 73, emphasis added. 

[18] Antonioni, “A Talk with Michelangelo Antonioni,” 28.

[19] Balázs, Theory of the Film, 226.

[20]  Balázs, Theory of the Film, 63.

[21] Angela Della Vacche, Cinema and Painting: How Art Is Used in Film (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996), 48.

[22] Barr, Acting for the Camera, 42.

[23] Frances Wyndham, “Antonioni’s London,” London Sunday Times, March 12, 1967, 13.



Antonioni, Michelangelo. Blow-Up. New York: Lorrimer, 1971.

_____. “A Talk with Michelangelo Antonioni on His Work.” In The Architecture of Vision: Writings and Interviews on Cinema. Edited by Carlo di Carlo and Giorgio Tinazzi, 21-47. New York: Marsilio, 1996.

Barr, Tony. Acting for the Camera. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

Balázs, Béla. Theory of the Film: Character and Growth of a New Art. Translated by Edith Bone. New York: Dover, 1970. (Originally published in 1950.)

Breuer, Josef and Sigmund Freud. Studies on Hysteria, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 2. Translated and edited by James Strachey. London: Hogarth, 1953-66.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge, 1990.

Carnicke, Sharon Marie. “Lee Strasberg’s Paradox of the Actor.” In Screen Acting. Edited by Lovell, Alan and Peter Krämer, 75-87. London: Routledge, 1999.

Della Vacche, Angela. Cinema and Painting: How Art Is Used in Film. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996.

Erikson, Erik H. Childhood and Society, 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1963.

Leprohon, Pierre. The Italian Cinema. Translated by Roger Greaves and Oliver Stallybrass. New York: Praeger, 1963.

Lippe, Richard and Florence Jacobowitz. “Introduction.” Special Issue on Performance, Cineaction 44 (July 1997): n.p.

Moravia. Alberto. Man as an End: A Defense of Humanism. Translated by Bernard Wall. New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1966.

Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey. L’Avventura. London: British Film Institute, 1997.

Scott, Michael Alan. “Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger: A Film Analysis.” Ed.D. dissertation, Columbia University Teachers College, 1979.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Translated by D. F. Pears and B. F. McGuinness. London: Routledge, 1961.

Wyndham, Frances. “Antonioni’s London.” London Sunday Times, March 12, 1967, 13-15.

Suggested Sources for Further Reading

Affron, Mirella Jona. “Bresson and Pascal: Rhetorical Affinities.” Quarterly Review of Film Studies 10, no. 2 (Spring 1985): 118-34.

Albera, Giovanni and Nicolas Monti. “Deserto Rosso.” Cahiers du cinéma, no. 159 (1964): 14.

_____. Il deserto rosso. 2nd edition. Edited by Carlo Di Carlo. Bologna: Capelli, 1978.


Arrowsmith, William. “Antonioni’s : Myth and Fantasy.” In The Binding of Proteus. Edited by Margorie W. McCune, Tucker Orbison, and Philip M. Withim, , 312-337.. Lewisburg, PA.: Bucknell University Press, 1980.

_____. Antonioni: The Poet of Images. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Austin, J. L. “Performative Utterances.” In Philosophical Papers, 233-52. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1970.

Baron, Cynthia, Diane Carson, and Frank P. Tomasulo, eds. “Introduction.” In More than a Method: Trends and Traditions in Contemporary Film Performance, 1-19. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2004.

Bislinghoff, Gretchen. “On Acting: A Working Bibliography.” Cinema Journal vol. 20, no. 1 (Fall 1980): 79-85.

Brecht, Bertolt. Brecht on Theatre. Translated by John Willett. New York: Hill and Wang, 1964.

Bresson, Robert. Notes sur le cinématographe. Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1975.

Brooks, Peter. The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama, and the Mode of Excess. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984.

Brunette, Peter. The Films of Michelangelo Antonioni. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Bruno, Edoardo. “Deserto rosso.” Filmcritica, no. 146 (1964): 350-360.

Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” New York: Routledge, 1993.

Caine, Michael. Acting in Film. New York: Applause Theater Books, 1993.

Cameron, Ian and Robin Wood. Antonioni. New York: Praeger, 1969.

Cardullo, Bert, et al., eds. Playing to the Camera: Film Actors Discuss Their Craft. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.

Della Vacche, Angela. “Antonioni's Red Desert.” In Post-War Cinema and Modernity: A Film Reader. Edited by John Orr and Olga Taxidou, 318-332. New York: New York University Press, 2001.

Doane, Mary Ann. “The Voice in the Cinema: The Articulation of Body and Space.” Yale French Review 60 (1980): 33-50.

Dyer, Richard. Stars. 2nd ed. London: British Film Institute, 1997.

Elder, Bruce. “Antonioni’s Tragic Vision: Style, Form, and Idea in the Films of Michelangelo Antonioni, with Especial Emphasis on His Masterpiece, Il deserto rosso.” Canadian Journal of Film Studies 1, no. 2 (1991): 1-34.

Elsaesser, Thomas. “Reflection and Reality: Narrative Cinema in the Concave Mirror.” Monogram 2 (Summer 1972): 2-9.

Esslin, Martin. Brecht: The Man and His Work. Rev. ed. New York: Norton Library, 1974.

Gandy, Matthew. “Landscapes of Deliquescence in Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 28, no. 2 (June 2003): 218-237.

Gessner, Robert. The Moving Image: A Guide to Cinematic Literacy. New York: Dutton, 1971.

Giannetti, Louis. Understanding Movies. 14th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2018.

Henderson, Christine. “The Trials of Individuation in Late Modernity: Exploring Subject Formation in Antonioni’s Red Desert.” Film-Philosophy 15, no. 1 (2011): 161-178.

Hines, Kay. “The Landscape of the Desert.” Sight & Sound 34 (Spring 1965): 80-81, 103.

Jameson, Fredric. Signatures of the Visible. London: Routledge, 1992.

Kauffmann, Stanley. “Red Desert.” The New Republic, 20 February 1965, 30-34.

Kirkham, Victoria. “The Off-Screen Landscape: Dante's Ravenna and Antonioni's Red Desert.” In Dante, Cinema, and Television. Edited by Amilcare A. Iannucci, 106-28. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

Kuleshov, Lev. Kuleshov on Film. Edited by Ron Levaco. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

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