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Zabriskie Point (1970)

R | | Drama | March 1970 (Argentina)
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.

Writers:

Michelangelo Antonioni (story), Michelangelo Antonioni (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Mark Frechette ... Mark
Daria Halprin ... Daria
Paul Fix ... Cafe Owner
G.D. Spradlin ... Lee's Associate
Bill Garaway Bill Garaway ... Morty
Kathleen Cleaver ... Kathleen
Rod Taylor ... Lee Allen
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Storyline

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 <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's where a boy and a girl come together and blow their minds. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

March 1970 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Dolina smrti See more »

Filming Locations:

Zzyzx, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$891,918, 31 December 1971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (alternate)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Antonioni met with Jim Morrison during early production to ask for a musical contribution to the soundtrack. Morrison and the Doors provided "L'America" which Antonioni then rejected. See more »

Goofs

When the plane is buzzing the car, power lines are to Daria's left except in one overhead shot when the lines are to her right. See more »

Quotes

Male Black Radical Student #1: [first spoken lines] That's the same old jive that's been runnin' now for the past 300 years. If you all so wise and heavy, why didn't you join the strike in the beginning? Nah, you just go back and tell 'em, "Sorry, this motherfucker is *closed* down! On strike, Jack. "
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the original version, the song that's playing when Daria drives away at the very end is a Roy Orbison song, but in the video version it's a continuation of the Pink Floyd song. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Godard in America (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

Dance of Death
Written and performed by John Fahey
Courtesy Takoma Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Italian in California: a technical masterpiece with sub-par substance
19 September 2004 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

There aren't too many times when I see a film and go, "huh, what?", but this was one of them. Maybe after seeing Zabriskie Point I felt much the same way Woody Allen felt after seeing 2001- he only liked the film after seeing it three times over a two year period, realizing the filmmaker was ahead of him in what was going on. Michelangelo Antonioni, in one of his few tries at making films inside of the US (after Red Desert, he did Blow-Up, this film, China, and The Passenger, all filmed outside his native Italy), I could sense he almost tried to learn about the ways of the country through his own mastery of the medium. The results show that he doesn't lack the means to present images, feelings, tones, colors, sounds, and a visual representation of this era. "A director's job is to see", Antonioni once stated. Whatever that means, he doesn't disappoint for the admirer of his post-fifties work (I say post-fifties since I've yet to see any of his films from before L'Avventura).

What he does lack is a point, at least the kind of point that he could bring in Blow-Up and The Eclipse. You get the feeling of what is around these characters, what the themes are bringing forth to their consciousness, however in this case the characters and the actors don't bring much conviction or purpose. Antonioni, coming from the school of hard-knocks, neo-realistic film-making, does do what he can with his mostly non-professional cast (those who look most like real actors are subjugated to the roles of the corporate characters), but the two stars Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin seem as if Antonioni's under-directing them. Perhaps that was the point. The story's split into three acts, thankfully not too confusing, as Mark escapes his existence around the boiling, dangerous campus life going on in the circa late 60's LA area, and Daria is sent out from LA to drive to Phoenix for some business meeting. They meet by chance as Mark's plane (how does he know how to drive, maybe a little background info there?) and Daria's car meet up, and they spend some time together in an existential kind of groove out in the desert. Aside from a stylistically mesmerizing if bizarre sex scene, much of this act isn't terribly interesting.

The two leads are fair enough to look at, but what exactly draws them to each other outside of curiosity? The ideas that come forth (in part from a screenplay co-written by Sam Shepard) aren't too revealing, except for one brief instant where drugs vs. reality is brought up. Then the film heads towards the third act, as Mark decides to do the right thing, under disastrous circumstances, and Daria arrives at her boss' place, only to be in full disillusionment (not taking into account the infamous last five minutes or so of the film). Although the film took its time telling its story, I didn't have as much of a problem with that as I did that the story only engages a certain kind of viewer. I understand and empathize with the feelings and doubts and fears as well as the self-confidence of the "anti-establishment", but maybe Antonioni isn't entirely fully aware of it himself. In some scenes he as director and editor (and the often astounding cinematography by Alfio Contini) find the scenery and backgrounds more enlightening and fixating than the people in the foreground. Not to say the technical side of Zabriskie Point isn't involving to a degree (this may make some feel drowsy, as Antonioni is probably far greater as a documentary filmmaker as he is a theatrical director like say Francis Ford Coppola is).

The deserts, skies, city, and even the faces in close-ups are filmed with the eye of a filmmaker in love with the art of getting things in the frame, bringing us in. The soundtrack is equally compelling, with a master stroke including a sweet Rolling Stones song at one point, and then a crushing, surreal Pink Floyd song (re-titled from 'Careful with that Axe Eugene, one of their best pre-Dark Side) in the explosion sequence. If only the performances weren't so one-sided I might find this to be on par with Blow-Up or The Eclipse. It's an unconventional stroke of genius on one hand, and on the other a boring take on what was the hippie/radical movement of the late 60's. But hey, what may be boring for an American such as myself born in the eighties may not be to others outside the US, such as say, Italy. And it does ask to not be discarded right away after one viewing.


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