Monday, February 24, 2014

Zabriskie Point (1970)

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Writers:  Michelangelo Antonioni, Fred Gardner, Sam Shepard, Tonino Guerra, Clare Peploe
Cast:       Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin, Paul Fix

The film is set in late 60s' America's counterculture movement and is the second in Antonioni's group of films that were part of his three English films contract with Carlo Ponti. It begins with documentary style footage of a revolutionary student gathering followed by scenes of a student protest in which a cop is killed. The protagonist Mark  is suspected for the shooting and even as he casually strolls round Los Angeles, he ends up stealing a private plane from an airport and makes his way to the desert. In the desert he meets Daria, an anthropology student, who is helping a property developer build a housing project in the desert where you can get away from the crowded city life and enjoy a rugged but comfortable lifestyle. They together gets on her car and drives to the Zabriskie Point, Death Valley. There they fool around talking and ultimately have sex in the sand. They then go back to the plane, repaint it Hippy psychedelic style and Mark decides to take it back to the city. He is shot dead when he lands and Daria gets to her Boss's lavish desert home where he is in discussion about the property development. In her grief she decides to turn back even as she imagines the home to be blown up from various angles. The scene is similar to the earlier sex scene in the sand where various other imaginary people are shown to be having fun in the sand.

The film is an indictment of American way of life and development with no sense of humor. Mark represents the carefree youth of the counterculture movement while Daria is someone who got over it by being pragmatic and at the same time being conflicted about it. The film was a huge commercial and critical failure but is now considered as a cult favorite. I just wish it was a bit more subtle in its treatment. 

Rating: 3.5/5