At Zabriskie Point, United States' lowest point, two perfect strangers meet; an undergraduate dreamer and a young hippie student who start off an unrestrained romance, making love on the dusty terrain.
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An epic portrait of late Sixties America, as seen through the portrayal of two of its children: anthropology student Daria (who's helping a property developer build a village in the Los Angeles desert) and dropout Mark (who's wanted by the authorities for allegedly killing a policeman during a student riot)...Written by
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Mark is buzzing Daria with the airplane, she at one point scrawls out some writing in the sand by the side of the road. Judging by the light and long shadows, it appears to be in late afternoon. Then we see Mark drop Daria something from the plane, which she runs to pick up. But now the light - and much shorter shadows - indicate that it is much earlier than the late afternoon of the previous shot. See more »
Would you like to go with me?
Wherever I'm going.
Are you *really* asking?
Is that your *real* answer?
See more »
MGM president Louis F. Polk was so worried about the controversy surrounding the film, particularly the threat of an X rating, that he invoked the studio's right to the final cut and ordered Antonioni to eliminate anything that might be potentially controversial. Thus, the riots, the love-ins, and numerous other scenes and fragments of scenes were removed, leaving only seventy minutes. The film was deemed unreleasable and written off as a loss but was saved when Polk was replaced by James T. Aubrey, who thought highly of the film and restored (nearly) all of the cut scenes. See more »
I know that this is an unpopular position concerning Zabriskie Point, but I LOVED this film. I know, I know - I can legitimately be called an Antonioni fanatic. I love L'Avventura, I love La Notte, I love L'Eclisse, I love Red Desert, I love Blowup, and I love Professione: Reporter (aka The Passenger). The only Antonioni film that I don't love, the only one I've ever given less than an 8/10 (and one of only three that I have given less than a 10/10, La Notte and L'Eclisse being the other two, though I fully acknowledge that I have to see both of them again), is Beyond the Clouds, which can fairly be called an awful film. However, there is not better awful film, if you catch my drift. So if you're NOT an Antonioni fan, you should only logically ignore me. If you are even a casual fan, though, and you are wondering whether this particular film, whose name, when spoken, is often followed by
a spit, which is generally despised by even Antonioni's admirers, is at all worth seeing, the answer is YES.
Okay, the reason that people tend to hate it is because 99% of film watchers care ONLY for the narrative of a film. Well, that's not exactly true. If a film is amazing in a particular aspect, say acting or cinematography or direction, and just decent in its narrative, film watchers might very well love it. But a film can be the most amazing visual masterpiece and have a lame or illogical story - that's another thing that has ruined the cinema over the years: logic - then they absolutely hate the film. I will actually agree with that in some ways. As much as I may dislike it and want to change my view, it really is difficult to love a film whose narrative I perceive as poor. However, other people tend to get annoyed at a loose narrative. This is certainly what must drive viewers away from Zabriskie Point. I could relate the story to you, but you probably would just think it was nonsensical. It is, actually, but, to me, that just made the whole endeavor more fantastic and beautiful. I'd actually compare it favorably to 2001, which is my favorite film. However, 2001 is perfectly coherent compared to the rambling narrative of this film.
What Zabriskie Point has in spades is mood. The music helps a lot; the score includes a lot of acts of the day, including Pink Floyd. The mood is kind of similar to the moods of Antonioni's other masterpieces, filled with loneliness and desolation. Also the freedom that comes from that. The best sequence in the film is when the lead man and woman (her name is Daria, I know, but I don't remember his name) pull over in their vehicle next to a historic marker on a desert highway. There is, beyond the stone wall that has been erected to keep cars from flying off, an ancient lakebed. It's basically a rocky desert, and the two go to play in it. The setting is enormously beautiful. The woman says: "This is such a beautiful place. What do you think?" The man: "I think it's dead." There's no inclination to whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. This is a lot like sentiments expressed in other Antonioni films - characters are constantly wanting to disappear or become invisible. Instead of David Locke, the protagonist of The Passenger, fed up with journalism, we have the young hippie sick of his friends' politics - he thinks they talk too much and don't act out what they feel is right, or at least he says he does. It seems to me more like he just wanted out of the situation.
The film is also simply amazing visually. Antonioni's films are all identifiable by just a few frames, but his visual style was always building. I like The Passenger more than I do Zabriskie Point, but Zabriskie Point might be his ultimate accomplishment in that aspect. Well, that might sound odd - L'Avventura and Red Desert are amazing pictorially. I think it's the camera movements that are particularly amazing here. He obviously made a ton of money on Blowup, which was the biggest arthouse hit of its day, the biggest ever at that point. He spends it well here, especially with his aerial shots. One of the film's greatest sequences involves the man, who has stolen a man's private airplane, dive-bombing Daria in her car.
The one thing that can be fairly criticized is the film's politics. They're certainly facile. Not that hippies were facile, but that Antonioni's vision of hippies - there weren't any in Italy, of course - are bizarre and, well, filtered through a foreigner's eyes. There's a rather childish criticism of advertising, but it's a criticism that still exists today. I say, can't you people just ignore it? What does it hurt? Are you walking around buying things you don't want because of billboards? Or there is also the criticism against capitalism. Daria, a secretary, works for a company that is stealing the land in the desert - the land that she and the man enjoyed to themselves - in order to make cheap, suburban homes for families. Rod Taylor, a very underrated actor whose most famous roles were in The Time Machine and The Birds, plays her boss. The ending, which I won't ruin - you've got to see it - is almost offensively cheap. I can, though, understand the treatment of police officers. Not that I disdain them generally, but they were awful at the time. They can still be awful now. They've always had too much power.
These trite arguments against the American way of life still don't effect my opinion of the film much. I find this filtered view of America extremely interesting. I really don't think a hippie would have disagreed with Antonioni. 10/10.
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