Zabriskie Point (1970)
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Written by Michelangelo Antonioni, Franco Rossetti, Sam Shepard, Tonino Guerra, Clare Peploe
Starring: Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin, Paul Fix
Daria is an anthropology student and disenchanted part of the corporate world. Mark is a college dropout looking for meaning in the turbulence of the times. Soon the two of them come together over a series of bizarre and dangerous circumstances. Their connection leads them into strange situations in the desert of Southern California. Together they start finding ways to express the feelings they have about the establishment.
Michelangelo Antonioni (L’Avventura) made three English-language films during his career as a filmmaker. This is the second, following his 1966 film, The Blowup. He wrote this story alongside a team of people including Franco Rossetti (Django), Sam Shepard (Safe House), Tonino Guerra (Amarcord), and Clare Peploe (Rough Magic). The movie features an interesting cast of actors including the unknown Mark Frechette. Frechette made only three films in his career before being sent to prison for robbing a bank. The cast also features Daria Halprin, an unknown actress who later married Dennis Hopper. Veteran actor Paul Fix (To Kill a Mockingbird) might be the only recognizable face in this one.
It’s hard to call this a story since it seems to operate in a series of episodes that only relate to one another through the appearance of certain characters. Throughout the movie the push to demonstrate the chasm between the establishment and the opposition of youth becomes overdone. The dialogue is weak and generally seems to fit into stereotypes for disaffected youth. Overall, there isn’t much to take away from this film as far as plot is concerned. Even the resolutions of the conflicts throughout the plot feel like an afterthought.
The cinematography and direction work within this movie are a different story altogether. While the story fails at every turn, the visuals seem to push the boundaries of what a camera can do. The movie takes advantage of color, depth of field, and composition in ways that are worth watching. While the film was a box office failure, the movie has survived due to the visual successes.
The use of music in this movie is also nicely done. It’s strange that the film can be so beautiful to see and nice on the ears without being a better movie overall. This one uses a number of popular songs by artists like Roy Orbison, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, and Patti Page. Along with a number of other talented musicians, this soundtrack has a lot to offer.
This might not be worth watching for any casual movie lover. Despite the technical successes within the film, it just doesn’t have a lot to offer otherwise. The acting is weak, probably because of the story. Overall, this exists mainly for the devoted cinema fans and students of the art of movie making. Despite the educational value, I need to rate this as honestly as I can. I give this one 1.8 out of 5 stars.