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Zabriskie Point (1970) Poster

Trivia

In real life, Mark Frechette led a counterculture life much like his character's in the film. Three years after the release of this film, he was imprisoned for his part in a bank hold-up in Boston. He died in prison in 1975 during a weightlifting exercise when a barbell fell on his neck.
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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.
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On March 8, 1967, Hail Thomas Hansen, 20, took a private plane from Sky Harbor Airport, Phoenix, for a joy ride, flying to Tucson. When he returned to Sky Harbor early in the morning of March 9, the Phoenix police were waiting for him. Hansen was shot and killed. Antonioni used elements of this story in his screen play. For additional details of Hansen's death, see "Tucson Daily Citizen," March 10, 1967 (page 2) and March 22, 1967 (page 18).
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One hundred people participated in the orgy scene, half of them from Joseph Chaikin 's Open Theatre company, and the other half "made up of assorted hippies."
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Harrison Ford fans know his scenes were cut from this film. However, look closely in the jail scene: he's standing against the back wall near the door.
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Michelangelo Antonioni's original ending was a shot of an airplane sky-writing the phrase "Fuck You, America," which was cut by MGM president Louis F. Polk along with numerous other scenes. Louis F. Polk was eventually replaced by James T. Aubrey, who had most of the cut footage restored, but without this final shot.
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Michelangelo Antonioni's assistant and casting director, Sally Dennison, first spotted Mark Frechette having an argument with a woman at a bus stop in Los Angeles. Frechette was not an actor but a carpenter at the time so when Dennison brought him to Antonioni's attention, she told him "He's twenty and he hates". Antonioni cast him on the spot.
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Mark Frechette earned $60,000 for making the film. He donated his earnings to a commune.
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Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin became romantically involved during the film's protracted shooting schedule with Mark's wife consent.Later they got divorced yet Daria didn't want to live in a commune like Mark so they eventually split.
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17 camera set-ups were employed for the climactic explosion.
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The house in the boulders was an actual house in Carefree, Arizona. The explosion of the house was done by recreating a mock-up of the house on the back lot of Southwestern Studios, also located in Carefree Arizona. The mock-up was exploded.
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Remembering the scoring sessions for this film, members of Pink Floyd later commented that Michelangelo Antonioni was very difficult to please, offering vague comments like (quoting the bandmembers, mimicking Michelangelo Antonioni's accent) "Eets nice, but too slow" or "Eets a leetle bit too soft."
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Michelangelo Antonioni's leftist politics made the film controversial from the start. The production was harassed by groups opposed to the movie's alleged "anti-Americanism." FBI agents tailed cast and crew members. Filming locations were besieged by right-wingers protesting an alleged scene of flag desecration, which never happened. Militant anti-establishment students worried they were being "sold out". The sheriff of Oakland, California, accused Michelangelo Antonioni of provoking the riots he had come to film. Death Valley park rangers initially refused to allow Michelangelo Antonioni to shoot at Zabriskie Point because they thought he planned to stage an orgy at the site; it was conceptualized, but never seriously considered. The U.S. Attorney's office in Sacramento opened grand jury investigations into both the film's alleged "anti-Americanism" and possible violations of the Mann Act, a 1910 law prohibiting the transportation of women across state lines "for immoral conduct, prostitution or debauchery," during the Death Valley filming. The investigation was dropped, reluctantly, when they learned that Zabriskie Point was at least 13 miles west of the California-Nevada border.
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The lead actor Mark Frechette had a different idea about this film than the director Antonioni. Mark wanted it to be a film about the 1968 student revolt against the system while Antonioni insisted on making an art film, so they constantly disagreed.
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"Fingals Cave", a piano piece composed by Richard Wright of Pink Floyd for the 'violent scene' went unused, but was later reworked by the band as "Us and Them" on their album "Dark Side of the Moon". In its original form it has featured on various bootleg albums.
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The second of three English language films that Michelangelo Antonioni made for MGM and producer Carlo Ponti. The first was Blow-Up (1966) with The Passenger (1975) following. Unfortunately both this film and The Passenger (1975) were major box office failures so the deal with MGM was not pursued any further.
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The old car that Daria is driving is a 1952 Buick Special De Luxe.
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The film initially grossed $900,000 on a budget of $7 million, making it one of the year's biggest box office disasters.
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Rod Taylor's dialogue was written specifically for him by Sam Shepard.
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Michelangelo Antonioni was quite appalled by what he perceived as American excess in the making of the film. He was more used to the Italian film industry's more thrifty approach to film-making.
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Both lead characters were named after the actual actors who played them: Mark & Darla. When a cop asked Mark what his name was, Mark's witty answer was 'Karl Marx' but the cop misspelled the first name as 'C-A-R-L'.
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Mark Frechette was cast after he was seen on the street arguing with someone on a balcony above him.
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Some scenes were actually shot at the real Zabriskie Point in Death Valley.
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In a early scene, Mark and his counterculture friend are driving in their vintage pickup truck. One of them gives the finger to two motorcycle cops approaching from the opposite direction. This seems to be a nod to the final scenes of Easy Rider (1969), but instead with the counterculture friends on motorcycles giving the finger to two locals in a pickup.
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Screenwriter Clare Peploe's brother, Mark Peploe, would write the screenplay to Michelangelo Antonioni's next film, The Passenger (1975).
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Actor James Caan considers this to be the worst film he has ever seen
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Preceding M*A*S*H by one month in its release date, Zabriskie Point has the distinction of being the first MPAA-approved motion picture released by a major studio (MGM) to have the phrase "motherf*cker" spoken in the dialogue.
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Harrison Ford's scene was deleted but his voice remains in Rod Taylor's phone-call scene.
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One of the films included in "The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (and how they got that way)" by Harry Medved and Randy Lowell.
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In 2001, A retrospective documentary on Zabriskie Point was made that included interviews with many people involved in the troubled production. Intitled INTO THE BELLY OF THE BEAST - The Making of Antonioni's Zabriskie Point. It has yet to be released to this day.
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