Daily Archives: March 26, 2014

Zabriskie Point (1970)

zabriskie point 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Blow up the house.

Two young adults, a product of the turbulent sixties and from opposite ends of the social spectrum, meet and fall-in-love. Daria (Daria Halpern) is an anthropology student while Mark (Mark Frechette) is a dropout who’s wanted by the police. Together they try to endure the hypocrisies and materialism of a capitalistic society.

Writer/Director Michelangelo Antonioni’s camerawork is one-of-a-kind and if you see this film for one reason then see it for this. Everything gets captured in intricate, focused detail and the shots of the desert landscape are breathtaking. The scenes where Mark flirts with Daria while piloting his airplane while she is still on the ground is genuinely cool.

The sprawling, modernistic mansion in the middle of the barren landscape is visually imaginative. Seeing it get blown up is a bit depressing, but when it gets done 10 different times from 10 different angles then it becomes a unique cinematic experience. The exploding refrigerator and flying food, which is done in slow motion, as well as the ten or so different couples who make love on the desert floor at the same time is equally arresting.

Having the two leads played by amateurs with little or no acting experience ends up working well. There is a very natural and honest quality to their delivery that most professional actors in their quest to put on a ‘performance’ wouldn’t be able to convey. Rod Taylor on the other hand is wasted in a small and uninteresting role as is character actor Paul Fix.

This film was unfairly overlooked and criticized upon its initial release, but now deserves a fresh look. Having a scathing take on American society done by a foreigner isn’t quite fair, but his comments on capitalism are good nonetheless. The story itself is quite thin, but when it is as visually intoxicating and emotionally kinetic as this then who cares.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: February 9, 1970

Runtime: 1Hour 50Minutes

Rated R

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni

Studio: MGM

Available: VHS, DVD