15 December 2004 | fredriho
An under-appreciated masterpiece
When this film was made, the hippie thing had gone mainstream. The ideas of the counter culture was well established, that is why such a big film could be made. Yet it has something to say, and it is said really beautifully. Apart from those who're only waiting for the wanking material, this film is given credit for its beautiful scenes(which in itself is more than enough reason to see the film) by the most. The soundtrack to this film, which actually became more popular than the film itself, is another plus. Pink Floyd's "Careful with that axe Eugene" suits really well with the explosions, the absence of music in other scenes gives the film a nice quiet mood. But. It seems as though the messages in this film have been overlooked by the most. If you didn't understand it, which seems to be the case for the most, I'll give you some hints: The man(tough guy, what ever his name is-Mark?) is a part of a "reality group". He leaves this group saying something like "I'm willing to die. But not of boredom" He later go for a joyride with a stolen plane, probably to seek some action. As he is in the air, Grateful Dead's Dark Star(from the Live/Dead album) is played(i think). This song contains the phrase "Shall we go you and I while we can", this is though not heard in the film.(Perhaps stretching it a bit too far meaning that quote is essential?) In the plane, he checks up a girl(Daria), who is driving in her car to a conference(about giving typical suburban families the opportunity to live in a super-relaxing place in the desert, where everything is so simple and nice. For the whole family!), by diving down, almost hitting the car. He lands the plane, and joins the girl on her way to Detroit. They stop at Zabriskie point, where they enjoy each other as living creatures and the nature. Later a family with a big car(of the type which you sleep in) and a speed boat is showed visiting Zabriskie Point, the father saying something like "what a waste driving all the way up here", and the kid sitting inside the car, grinning. I sensed a "this wasn't much better than on the telly"-attitude. Daria takes Mark back to the plane which now is painted in a psychedelic style, with the identity number changed to "no war" on one side and "no words" on the other. "Bucks Sucks" is also written on the plane. Mark takes the plane back to where he stole it from, saying to Daria before he leaves "I don't risk anything" or something, one of several hints about he not caring too much about his destiny. (This because he has the feeling that the environment that surrounds don't give him anything- "I wonder what happens in the real world") On the airport he is met by police officers who shoots him even though he just has returned the plane. Daria hears this on the radio, but decides to go to the conference in the fancy mansion. Here she feels alien after the adventures with her just killed friend. She enjoys fresh water running down a rock, more than the swimming pool. Inside the house the viewer is once again given a hint about anti-materialism -She looks out through a glass wall, holding her hands on the glass like she was trapped. The business men is seen arguing, the one side eager to make a big deal, the other afraid of losing money. Daria leaves the house and looks back at it, visualizing it blowing up. After the house, several other things blow up, for example a television. She smiles, happy she has inside herself destroyed what she after the meeting with Mark look upon as something negative.
To summarize: Mark obviously experience the "reality group" as not very useful as they just sit and talk, taking no action. He clearly has bad feelings about things being as they are, and it seems like he feels that it's no use fighting against it. He wants to leave. He helps Daria, who is "in mind but not in action" seeing his point of view. Where his feeling of being misfitted turns out leading to his death, one can hope Daria uses the ideas in a way that will turn out more constructive. In the film you see how a town (LA) is being polluted by commercial (too bad you have to show the commercial to make the point), you see business men deciding what is the future, et cetera, and you see people being unhappy with these and other situations which is parts of the modern world.
I have only seen the film once, so I have not caught all points, but I certainly got a feeling of what this film has to say, and I find it strange that this film can be called meaningless. If you say the points are being too obvious, I can see why, this film probably intended to appeal to the post-hippie radicals "digging" the thoughts of anti-establishment. Even though, it has a lot to say, and its message is still needed today, things pretty much evolving in the same direction as it did before the sixties. Zabriskie Point is a really great film, telling a story about quite normal young people (not far out hippies tripping around tip toe on acid, digging everything) seeking what they percept as real, dissatisfied with the conventional. And it is done in a truly beautiful way.