After enjoying the biggest success of his career with Blow Up (1966), Michelangelo Antonioni spent two years and $7 million of Hollywood’s money making Zabriskie Point, a mind-expanding odyssey of two youths (Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin) on the run from the police after a violent student demonstration.
Their surreal adventures in the California desert climax in slow-motion apocalypse to the strains of Pink Floyd.
After a meeting about student rebellion, college radical Mark is suspected of shooting a cop.
He flees the city by stealing a small plane and flies out to the desert where he meets free-spirited secretary Daria who is on her way to meet with her new boss Lee Allen (Rod Taylor).
The two spend some time making love in the desert with nature (and many other imagined people) before he returns to give himself up and she goes on to join her boss.
But this is not a script-driven film. Except for the first ten minutes, it is mostly visual, with stunning cinematography. But the beautiful images seem random and lack synthesis.
It’s worth seeing, though, just for
the classic slow-motion explosion ending with Pink Floyd‘s Careful with That Axe, Eugene playing and symbols of commercialisation floating through the air.
The film had equally-strange echoes in real life: Mark Frechette later robbed a bank (for political reasons, he claimed) and died mysteriously in prison in 1975, and co-star Daria Halprin was Frechette’s off-screen girlfriend for a short time when they lived together in a Boston commune. Halprin was also briefly married to Dennis Hopper.
Watch out for a very young Harrison Ford.
‘Zabriskie Point’ is a rainbow-coloured spot in Death Valley, where layers of multi-hued sediment in the jagged crests of rock create the impression of a sand picture given three dimensions.
Lee Allen’s associate
G D Spradlin