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  • At the time of its release, ZABRISKE POINT caused great division in film-going circles. A "wannabe classic but artless piece of empty canvas" was the view of the establishment, most critics included. To the alternative movement...a "revelation of everything that is wrong in the world today (1970)" Not too much has changed judging by the comments here, although an overall user-rating of an almost respectable 6.2 suggests an increase in the appreciation factor.

    Poor old Mark Frechette and Daria Halpin as the star crossed lovers - definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time (weren't they EVERY wronged and downtrodden teenager of the period???) copped most of the flack, totally unreasonably. They were SUPPOSED to be Mr and Miss typical troubled youth, not Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara on a bender! This was an image-driven film and many flag waving americans were incensed that Italy's outre director Antonioni was given free rein to portray the angst of American youth.

    Cinematically, the film was awesome. In London at the time, I saw it on its release and thought that from an objective viewpoint it was quite brilliant (admittedly, I was only 24 myself). Many have commented on its alleged self-indulgence. Yeah, well it WAS Antonioni's film - surely he was free to express his art-form in whatever way he saw fit at the time? The desert scenes have not been topped by any film since.

    ZABRISKIE POINT may be shy of "masterpiece" status (mind you, who amongst is solely qualified to make THAT call?) but it is probably now, THE defining film of 70's culture. A time when acid trips, communal living, even just plain old fashioned "love" were not that easy a choice to live with!
  • I was told it was one of those "either you love it or you hate it" movies. Well, I loved it. Obvious hippie-era, dated and easy symbolism and all. So, I probably have no taste at all when it comes to Antonioni, but this and La Notte (made exactly a decade earlier) are my favourites among his movies so far. Made two years before I was born, Zabriskie Point was supposed to have been Michelangelo's great American epic. But apparently, it turned out to be a flop. I really can't see why. Before watching it I'd read that it was rather boring, so I braced myself for a very slow movie - though I love me a slow movie. For my taste, Zabriskie didn't have a tedious minute in it. While watching it, I made a mental note of how European it was on the director's part to make such frequent use of advertisement billboards in almost every urban scene, enormous billboards dwarfing any human form in sight. This recurrent visual element is obviously there to underline the way that consumerism crushes the individual in American society. But then I watched L'Eclisse straight afterwards, which is set in Rome in the early 60s, and noticed that Antonioni often included billboards in it as well. After all, the masterful use of landscapes, architecture and inanimate objects in each frame with or without human beings is an Antonioni trademark – this is precisely the way that he evokes his characters' psychological states, with more or less understated power and great visual impact. He is virtually unsurpassed in this skill.

    Zabriskie Point starred two very appealing leads that should have become big stars of the 70s, but never did. Mark Frechette, whom I'd already seen in Francesco Rosi's fine WWI-set movie Uomini Contro, had a very tragic life and died aged just 27. According to his biography page, he donated his $60,000 earnings from Zabriskie to a commune. Mark's co-star Daria Halprin, apparently also Dennis Hopper's wife later on, has the stunning, natural beauty and appeal of a young Ornella Muti – one of those luminous beauties that don't need a shred of make-up to turn heads. Like Frechette, she has only graced a couple of obscure movies and has never become a star, but at least she didn't die tragically. Most notably, Zabriskie Point contains one of the most original sex scenes ever filmed - one that brings home a sense of youthful playfulness like few I've seen - as well as a powerfully cathartic ending. It may be the most banal sequence ever filmed as far as its symbolism goes, but I can't see how anyone can deny its beauty and wonderful sense of emotional release. Never has an explosion looked so good, and so poetic. It seems to be an explosion that restores order rather than bringing chaos.
  • Antonioni really showed some 'cojones' when he had this movie made. He went to America working under a contract from the most lavish studio (MGM) and he made the most damning portrait of American society i've ever seen. Having seen LA first hand this is the most accurate portrayal of the crowded, overheated and impersonal city. If only Antonioni had met Bill Hicks...

    The subsequent burial by the studio is understandable, after such a whopping investment and dismal return. It is sad that people don't get to see this film any more as i believe Antonioni has been proved right. Here he predicts the end of the hippie/civil rights movement in the politics of America. Everyone is much more interested in what goes into their pockets and the relentless expansion of living space into the inhospitable (yet beautiful) desert and beyond. How i would love to see interest in this film re-kindled and a lavish DVD release.

    I beseech people to watch Zabriskie Point with an open mind and an open heart. We have a genuinely unique film commenting on a turning point in the history of the most powerful nation on the planet, and we have forgotten about it.

    An unexpected gem.
  • harry-7619 August 2000
    About two hundred members of a Cleveland, Ohio USA film society, named Cinematheque, gathered on August 19, 2000 to view a pristine Cinemascope print of Michelangelo Antonioni's 1970 film, "Zabriskie Point." Cinematheque Director John Ewing, who does a superlative job of obtaining the finest prints for his series, shared with the audience beforehand that this print was specially flown over from Italy for this one showing only.

    The audience was held spellbound as the film unfolded its artisty on the huge panoramic screen. Watching this superb print, shown the way Antonioni intended, made one aware that this is indeed a modern art work. It was all the more fitting that the series is housed in the Cleveland Insititue of Art in University Circle.

    Antonioni's compositions are created for the Cinemascope landscape. His beautiful balancing of images, striking use of colors, sweeping choreographic movements, all are the work of a genuine artist, using the screen as his canvas.

    At last the audience could understand "Zabriskie Point." As its narrative unfolded, it became obvious that this work is not about story per se, but rather an artist's impressionistic rendering of fleeting images of his subject. The setting of some of the more turbulent activities of the sixties provides only a dramatic motor for the artist's sweeping collage.

    Antonioni is not bound by conventional narrative standards, and can pause at any point to creatively embroider an event with grandiose embellishments. The audience willingly went with the flow of his remarkable imagination, as his huge images on the massive canvas held one in rapt attention. While the audience may have been only tangentially involved in character relationships, it realized the theme here is human aleination, the director's recurring theme.

    It was also realized that no print any smaller or of lesser quality than this original one in Cinemascope can do justice to this particular rendering. The audience was therefore all the more appreciative of viewing "Zabriskie Point" in its original, breathtaking format, and broke into thunderous applause at the end.
  • This is the film in Antonioni's middle period that most critics dismiss quickly, as a 'flawed' look at 60s American youth culture/politics. For what it's worth, I found it more touching and memorable than his more acclaimed films like L'AVVENTURA, perhaps because he shows more emotion & empathy here than anywhere else. The story is simple, but it is used as a frame for Antonioni's brilliant observations of, and critique on American consumerist culture, student life, the counter-culture, and the whole anti-establishment, anti-war backlash that was so prominent then.

    Even from a purely technical point of view, it is a remarkably crafted film; from the opening credits sequence to the bizarre desert 'love-in', to the use of billboards, and right down to that jaw-dropping, cathartic finale that used 17 camera set-ups (in it's own way, as powerful as the climax of The Wild Bunch). Also, Antonioni chose one hell of a leading lady with Daria Halperin, one of the most beautiful ever to grace the screen. There isn't much 'acting' involved, as this feels more like a docu-drama, and so the use of non- professionals as the lead couple works quite effectively within that context. And the soundtrack is not only filled with marvelous music, its use is impressive as well (I can't forget the start of the film, mostly due to the selection of music - by Pink Floyd - that grooms the visuals so well).

    Contrary to popular opinion, this is quite an achievement in cinema, and one I would enthusiastically recommend to anyone with a taste or tolerance for the off- beat. Well worth seeking out, and one of those key films of the 60s that demands a DVD restoration/release.
  • zetes11 November 2001
    I know that this is an unpopular position concerning Zabriskie Point, but I LOVED this film. I know, I know - I can legitimately be called an Antonioni fanatic. I love L'Avventura, I love La Notte, I love L'Eclisse, I love Red Desert, I love Blowup, and I love Professione: Reporter (aka The Passenger). The only Antonioni film that I don't love, the only one I've ever given less than an 8/10 (and one of only three that I have given less than a 10/10, La Notte and L'Eclisse being the other two, though I fully acknowledge that I have to see both of them again), is Beyond the Clouds, which can fairly be called an awful film. However, there is not better awful film, if you catch my drift. So if you're NOT an Antonioni fan, you should only logically ignore me. If you are even a casual fan, though, and you are wondering whether this particular film, whose name, when spoken, is often followed by

    a spit, which is generally despised by even Antonioni's admirers, is at all worth seeing, the answer is YES.

    Okay, the reason that people tend to hate it is because 99% of film watchers care ONLY for the narrative of a film. Well, that's not exactly true. If a film is amazing in a particular aspect, say acting or cinematography or direction, and just decent in its narrative, film watchers might very well love it. But a film can be the most amazing visual masterpiece and have a lame or illogical story - that's another thing that has ruined the cinema over the years: logic - then they absolutely hate the film. I will actually agree with that in some ways. As much as I may dislike it and want to change my view, it really is difficult to love a film whose narrative I perceive as poor. However, other people tend to get annoyed at a loose narrative. This is certainly what must drive viewers away from Zabriskie Point. I could relate the story to you, but you probably would just think it was nonsensical. It is, actually, but, to me, that just made the whole endeavor more fantastic and beautiful. I'd actually compare it favorably to 2001, which is my favorite film. However, 2001 is perfectly coherent compared to the rambling narrative of this film.

    What Zabriskie Point has in spades is mood. The music helps a lot; the score includes a lot of acts of the day, including Pink Floyd. The mood is kind of similar to the moods of Antonioni's other masterpieces, filled with loneliness and desolation. Also the freedom that comes from that. The best sequence in the film is when the lead man and woman (her name is Daria, I know, but I don't remember his name) pull over in their vehicle next to a historic marker on a desert highway. There is, beyond the stone wall that has been erected to keep cars from flying off, an ancient lakebed. It's basically a rocky desert, and the two go to play in it. The setting is enormously beautiful. The woman says: "This is such a beautiful place. What do you think?" The man: "I think it's dead." There's no inclination to whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. This is a lot like sentiments expressed in other Antonioni films - characters are constantly wanting to disappear or become invisible. Instead of David Locke, the protagonist of The Passenger, fed up with journalism, we have the young hippie sick of his friends' politics - he thinks they talk too much and don't act out what they feel is right, or at least he says he does. It seems to me more like he just wanted out of the situation.

    The film is also simply amazing visually. Antonioni's films are all identifiable by just a few frames, but his visual style was always building. I like The Passenger more than I do Zabriskie Point, but Zabriskie Point might be his ultimate accomplishment in that aspect. Well, that might sound odd - L'Avventura and Red Desert are amazing pictorially. I think it's the camera movements that are particularly amazing here. He obviously made a ton of money on Blowup, which was the biggest arthouse hit of its day, the biggest ever at that point. He spends it well here, especially with his aerial shots. One of the film's greatest sequences involves the man, who has stolen a man's private airplane, dive-bombing Daria in her car.

    The one thing that can be fairly criticized is the film's politics. They're certainly facile. Not that hippies were facile, but that Antonioni's vision of hippies - there weren't any in Italy, of course - are bizarre and, well, filtered through a foreigner's eyes. There's a rather childish criticism of advertising, but it's a criticism that still exists today. I say, can't you people just ignore it? What does it hurt? Are you walking around buying things you don't want because of billboards? Or there is also the criticism against capitalism. Daria, a secretary, works for a company that is stealing the land in the desert - the land that she and the man enjoyed to themselves - in order to make cheap, suburban homes for families. Rod Taylor, a very underrated actor whose most famous roles were in The Time Machine and The Birds, plays her boss. The ending, which I won't ruin - you've got to see it - is almost offensively cheap. I can, though, understand the treatment of police officers. Not that I disdain them generally, but they were awful at the time. They can still be awful now. They've always had too much power.

    These trite arguments against the American way of life still don't effect my opinion of the film much. I find this filtered view of America extremely interesting. I really don't think a hippie would have disagreed with Antonioni. 10/10.
  • 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.
  • There aren't too many times when I see a film and go, "huh, what?", but this was one of them. Maybe after seeing Zabriskie Point I felt much the same way Woody Allen felt after seeing 2001- he only liked the film after seeing it three times over a two year period, realizing the filmmaker was ahead of him in what was going on. Michelangelo Antonioni, in one of his few tries at making films inside of the US (after Red Desert, he did Blow-Up, this film, China, and The Passenger, all filmed outside his native Italy), I could sense he almost tried to learn about the ways of the country through his own mastery of the medium. The results show that he doesn't lack the means to present images, feelings, tones, colors, sounds, and a visual representation of this era. "A director's job is to see", Antonioni once stated. Whatever that means, he doesn't disappoint for the admirer of his post-fifties work (I say post-fifties since I've yet to see any of his films from before L'Avventura).

    What he does lack is a point, at least the kind of point that he could bring in Blow-Up and The Eclipse. You get the feeling of what is around these characters, what the themes are bringing forth to their consciousness, however in this case the characters and the actors don't bring much conviction or purpose. Antonioni, coming from the school of hard-knocks, neo-realistic film-making, does do what he can with his mostly non-professional cast (those who look most like real actors are subjugated to the roles of the corporate characters), but the two stars Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin seem as if Antonioni's under-directing them. Perhaps that was the point. The story's split into three acts, thankfully not too confusing, as Mark escapes his existence around the boiling, dangerous campus life going on in the circa late 60's LA area, and Daria is sent out from LA to drive to Phoenix for some business meeting. They meet by chance as Mark's plane (how does he know how to drive, maybe a little background info there?) and Daria's car meet up, and they spend some time together in an existential kind of groove out in the desert. Aside from a stylistically mesmerizing if bizarre sex scene, much of this act isn't terribly interesting.

    The two leads are fair enough to look at, but what exactly draws them to each other outside of curiosity? The ideas that come forth (in part from a screenplay co-written by Sam Shepard) aren't too revealing, except for one brief instant where drugs vs. reality is brought up. Then the film heads towards the third act, as Mark decides to do the right thing, under disastrous circumstances, and Daria arrives at her boss' place, only to be in full disillusionment (not taking into account the infamous last five minutes or so of the film). Although the film took its time telling its story, I didn't have as much of a problem with that as I did that the story only engages a certain kind of viewer. I understand and empathize with the feelings and doubts and fears as well as the self-confidence of the "anti-establishment", but maybe Antonioni isn't entirely fully aware of it himself. In some scenes he as director and editor (and the often astounding cinematography by Alfio Contini) find the scenery and backgrounds more enlightening and fixating than the people in the foreground. Not to say the technical side of Zabriskie Point isn't involving to a degree (this may make some feel drowsy, as Antonioni is probably far greater as a documentary filmmaker as he is a theatrical director like say Francis Ford Coppola is).

    The deserts, skies, city, and even the faces in close-ups are filmed with the eye of a filmmaker in love with the art of getting things in the frame, bringing us in. The soundtrack is equally compelling, with a master stroke including a sweet Rolling Stones song at one point, and then a crushing, surreal Pink Floyd song (re-titled from 'Careful with that Axe Eugene, one of their best pre-Dark Side) in the explosion sequence. If only the performances weren't so one-sided I might find this to be on par with Blow-Up or The Eclipse. It's an unconventional stroke of genius on one hand, and on the other a boring take on what was the hippie/radical movement of the late 60's. But hey, what may be boring for an American such as myself born in the eighties may not be to others outside the US, such as say, Italy. And it does ask to not be discarded right away after one viewing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film is definitely a product of its times and seen in any other context, it is an incredibly stupid movie. Heck, even seen in its proper context, it's pretty bad!! Mostly, this is due to a silly plot and very self-indulgent direction by the famed Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni. In this case, he tried to meld a very artsy style film with an anti-establishment hippie film and only succeeded in producing a bomb of gargantuan proportions.

    The film begins with a rap session where a lot of "with it" students sit around saying such platitudes as "power to the people" and complaining about "the man". Considering most of these hippies have parents sending them to college, it seemed a bit silly for these privileged kids to be complaining so loudly and shouting revolutionary jargon. A bit later, violence between the students and the "establishment pigs" breaks out and a cop is killed. Our "hero", Mark, may or may not have done it, but he is forced to run to avoid prosecution. Instead of heading to Mexico or Canada, he does what only a total moron would do--steals an airplane and flies it to the Mojave Desert! There, he meets a happen' chick and they then sit around philosophizing for hours. Then, they have sex in one of the weirder sex scenes in cinema history. As they gyrate about in the dust, suddenly other couples appear from no where and there is a huge orgy scene. While you see a bit of skin (warranting an R-rating), it's not as explicit as it could have been. In fact, it lasts so long and seems so choreographed that it just boggles the mind. And of course, when they are finished, the many, many other couples vanish into thin air.

    Oddly, later the couple paint the plane with some help and it looks a lot like a Peter Max creation. Despite improving the look of the plane, the evil cops respond to his returning the plane by shooting the nice revolutionary. When the girl finds out, she goes into a semi-catatonic state and the movie ends with her seemingly imagining the destruction of her own fascist pig parents and all the evil that they stand for (such as hard work and responsibility). Instead of one simple explosion, you see the same enormous house explode about 8 times. Then, inexplicably, you see TVs, refrigerators and other things explode in slow motion. While dumb, it is rather cool to watch--sort of like when David Letterman blows things up or smashes things on his show.

    Aside from a dopey plot, the film suffers from a strong need for a single likable character as well as extensive editing. At least 15 minutes could easily be removed to speed things up a bit--especially since there really isn't all that much plot or dialog. The bottom line is that this is an incredibly dumb film and I was not surprised to see it listed in "The Fifty Worst Films" book by Harry Medved. It's a well deserved addition to this pantheon of crap. For such a famed director to spend so much money to produce such a craptastic film is a crime!

    Two final observations. If you like laughing at silly hippie movies, also try watching THE TRIAL OF BILLY JACK. Also, in a case of art imitating life, the lead, Mark Frechette, acted out his character in real life. He died at age 27 in prison a few years after participating in an act of "revolution" in which he and some friends robbed a bank and killed an innocent person. To quote Eric Cartman, "Dang hippies!!".
  • The movie presents a view of the United States that only a foreigner could have. Sadly, foreigners can't relate to it and persons from the United States cannot believe it. The movie is, therefore, caught in limbo without an audience. Reviews of the film tend to reflect this.

    I have lived away from the US for 30 years and can now pretend to be able to understand what Antonioni was wanting to achieve. My view is that he has excelled. The film is a stunning indictment of the United States and, tragically, I see no remediation in the 29 years since it was first released.
  • This film has a powerful philosophical ending. But that ending has meaning only if you watch the movie from the beginning.

    Youth alienation in the late 1960's, from the viewpoint of a young man and a young woman, is the obvious theme of "Zabriskie Point". Neither Mark Frechette nor Daria Halprin had much acting experience, a fact that actually enhances the film's message. Having untrained actors conveys a sense of realism, as both players seem emotionally detached from the turmoil around them.

    This is not a script-driven film. Except for the first ten minutes, it is mostly visual, with stunning cinematography. The beautiful naturalistic images seem other-worldly, and perfectly in sync with the emotional detachment of Mark and Daria.

    I would have replaced the thematically weak Pink Floyd music with the more cogent music of The Doors. Many scenes cry out for "Riders On The Storm".

    Even so, I like this film. It's different; it's unique; it is artistic and imaginative. And the desert badlands are beautiful.

    As the years go by, "Zabriskie Point" seems more and more attractive. It conveys the mood of the late 1960's in America. It is amazingly artistic, in a bohemian sort of way. And the film's last eight minutes are philosophically mesmerizing.
  • Antonioni, by making this film, had assumed the role of Papa Smurf to all the little long-haired, American, radical student-Smurfs. He had taken them under the guiding protection of his European communist wings, showing appreciation and support for their confused American ways. (These Smurfs are red and wear blue, not the other way around.) The radical Smurfs were happy to get the guidance of a wise old man with gray hair who regularly preys to the God of all long-haired Smurfs, Lenin the Communist - another wise old man whose beard made the Smurfs take him even more seriously, for it symbolized something wise, though they did not quite know why they regarded the beard to have this kind of deep effect on them. Castro, another wise bearded man, has often profited from this confusion and exuded magical powers with his beard over his naive overseas admirers. (Not to mention Che Guevara: that beard has a certain je-ne-sais-pas-quoi about it, makes one want to immediately embrace Marx and his lovely, pacifistic teachings…) The film starts with a muddled meeting of radically stupid radical students, who engage in dialogues that truly redefine the word "confused". As confused as a blind-folded dog falling of a high-story building into a bottomless pit. Suddenly, the movie's "hero" (well, Antonioni's hero) rises up and says something to his pathetic left-wing peers and then leaves, hoping that this display of "mega-coolness" will improve his James Dean image and vastly increase his chances of getting laid with the best "chicks" in the next mass hippie orgy. Eventually he gets into trouble with cops (i.e. pigs) at a rally, and spends the movie under the blue American capitalist skies, looking for freedom… Or something like that.

    Antonioni's predictable assault on capitalism is not only intellectually hollow, but has (or had) nothing new to offer; it's just the same old trigger-happy one-dimensional cops, businessmen discussing business deals (and what's wrong with that, isn't that how Antonioni's movies get made?), and endless shots of TV commercials and billboards advertising the oh-so morally decadent products for the abhorrent, selfish, and greedy right-wing rabble-population who thinks of no one but themselves, their families, their work, and their children.

    Papa Smurf Antonioni, just like his long-haired Smurfs and Smurfettes of the late 60s, failed to notice the most obvious and vital aspect about their silly movement: they were allowed to have their laughable meetings and express their anti-establishment opinions freely within that very establishment, whereas the students in those countries whose left-wing systems they admired, did not (and still do not). By far the greatest irony about the hippies - and Antonioni, naturally, failed to realize this as well (his judgment being clouded by cocaine-snorting and an excessive intake of LSD) - is that hippies were (are) the garbage-residue of capitalism. This is an incredible irony. Only in a successfully-functioning capitalist system can you find that species called "hippie"; a spoiled, ungrateful, and selfish bunch of middle and upper-middle class losers.

    The film itself seems to go on forever. Antonioni takes his sweet time with getting on with it, while including overlong scenes of pointlessness, with a high dullness factor. His attempts at symbolism are annoying and trite. His statements are highly dubious, at best. This film is Antonioni's way of saying that violent revolution is the solution. And this is what we get from an old, saturated, filthy-rich, fat film-maker who lives in villas and dines in the best French and Italian restaurants.

    I don't remember seeing any major Western movie about the Tiananmen massacre of thousands of students in China. But when one Western student gets shot for waving Che Guevara's face into all our faces, we get ten major films about it at once. I suppose this means that a Chinese life is worth a thousand times less than a Western one – at least to the left-wing hypocrites who infest movies.

    If you're a Marxist neo-hippy and disliked this awful review, please klick "NO" below.
  • Michael Medved had Zabriskie Point down on his list of 100 worst films. But just looking on the critical reaction here there's a lot who feel he was harsh. I'm not one of them however though I've seen much worse.

    The main problem here is that Michelangelo Antonini chose a pair of non actors for his two young leads, symbols as they were of a new generation that was to reform all before it.

    The problem is that for long periods of this film Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin are on screen together. Put it simply, they couldn't act. I've seen better from high school plays.

    Zabriskie Point is a waste of time for people like Rod Taylor, G.D. Spradlin, and Paul Fix they've all been far better. Zabriskie Point should be seen as a reminder that even big budget films can have a dearth of acting.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In "Blow Up" (1966), Antonioni had his hero question truth against a backdrop of British youth protesters. By setting such questions against a fabric of hippie youth movements, Antonioni questioned, intentionally or not, the effectiveness of these organisations. How can one fight for a cause when what one holds as true might be a lie? On the flip side, the film said that we must always actively test what we see, precisely because we live in an image bank of deceit at worst, uncertainty at best. Though the "hippie aspects" were the most tacky parts of "Blow Up", they created a nice texture and gave the film more ambiguity - a sort of widespread ontological uncertainty - than it might otherwise have had.

    With "Zabriskie Point", however, Antonioni throws away all the ambiguities and subtleties of "Blow Up" and instead goes full blown hippie. The result is a film awash with clunky metaphors and heavy handed storytelling - disappointing from a director renowned for restraint - but which is nevertheless consistently interesting.

    The film opens with a beautiful series of sliding close ups (which stress blurred faces and anonymity), as we watch a group of radicals discussing "revolution", specifically, as one woman states, "what does it take to get white people to fight for revolution?" What the film is concerned with, however, is the opposite: what stops whites from revolting.

    Suddenly one man, Mark, gets up and leaves the discussion. Though revolutionaries fight for freedom, Mark is impatient, wants quick fixes and views binding oneself to such a militant cause as being akin to giving his one's own freedom away. And so like Jack Nicholson in Antonioni's "Passenger", Mark flies away. The other radicals promptly chastise Mark for this "bourgeois individualism", and his blatant intolerance of groups.

    As such, Mark buys a gun and goes solo. Later Mark runs away when police raid a university campus, worried that he may be mistook for an "actual radical" who fired a shot. He then flees to a nearby airfield, steals a private plane and flies out into the desert. Antonioni treats the desert as a peaceful utopia, devoid of capitalism's encroachments, and contrasts it with America's cities, with their billboards, plastic people, mannequins, dreary lives, bad food and modern appliances. His desert is Edenic, Paradise before The Fall, but also Zabriskie Point, the lowest point of the United States, and so a regressive fantasy.

    Flying above the desert Mark then spies Daria. He lands and meets her, his lusts bringing him promptly back down to earth. Antonioni then gives us a silly sex scene in which hundreds of hippies copulate in the sand. Free from the constraints of modern life, radicals celebrate their individualism, their primordialism, by humping in the sun. Here revolution collapses into hedonism, vague notions of revolt giving way to lust, personal fulfilment and "free love".

    The film ends with Mark dying after returning a plane. He believes in sharing rather than possessions, Antonioni stresses, and is punished for this. Meanwhile Daria fantasizes about blowing up the mansions, commodities and stately homes of the "rich capitalists" who inadvertently killed Mark. Less a challenge to its audience - "Pick up the guns and pickets! Tear the walls down before they cage you in!" - this ultraist sequence is one of profound disappointment: the one dimensionality and impossibility of the radical fantasy, and the foretold reign of techno capitalism. Daria walks away, the world intact.

    The film is touted as being "anti establishment", but Mark is the enemy and doesn't know it. He refuses to work with others, wants instant gratification quick fixes, flees because he doesn't want to be "mistook for a radical" and his notions of justice all revolve around his own whims, wants and desires.

    6/10 - In hindsight, "Zabriskie Point's" flaw isn't that it's a "radical film" directed by a quiet, contemplative man (it's a film about what prevents whites from being radicals- sex, selfishness, bourgeois individualism, fear etc), but that its actors can't bring the level of metaphysical intensity to their dialogue that Antonioni is known for. The film is beautifully shot, if we ignore some clunky metaphors, but simply lacks the haunting, intense and even sexy quality of good Antonioni.

    Incidentally, there are many films in which audiences are encouraged to "rebel", but they all fall into one of four categories. In the first category (eg "Network", "Cool Hand Luke", "Cuckoo's Nest", "Loneliness of the Long distance Runner", "If", "Spartacus") we watch as the lives of freedom fighters end in failure, though in each case the "spirit of revolution" survives. In the deaths or failures of our heroes, the optimistic notion of change then lives on through martyrdom.

    Then you have films like "Fight Club" and "Falling Down", which simply encourage you to explode. Tear it all down. Go out guns blazing! These films are borne out of angry, reactionary feelings, rather than any sort of common sense.

    Then you have the third category ("The Lives of Others", "Bound For Glory", "A Clockwork Orange" etc) which treat artists as a force of change. In these Dystopian worlds, it's the unbridled creativity and freedom of will of the artist/criminal which create waves.

    Then you have the "flight rather than fight" category ("Passenger", "THX1138", "The Devil Probably", "Logan's Run", "Red Desert", "Warriors", "Easy Rider", and "Badlands" etc), which typically show men running from worlds they do not like and forging islands or peaceful havens for themselves. A fifth, Utopian category of films doesn't exist, because everyone from Marx to modern thinkers have been unable to cook up a workable, pro-active way out of techno-capitalism. The notion of "revolution" is also complicated by the fact that, historically, social change is often instigated accidentally by either humble inventors, spurred ahead by minor technological advancements, or non-violent protesters who humbly refuse to get off buses. I mean, what liberated women more than contraceptives?
  • bmeister18 March 2010
    I admit, having come of age in the hippie-dippy age, I am a sucker for these kind of movies. I can enjoy some of the schlock of the hippie genre far more than most "normal" people. However, this movie is simply awful in every conceivable way.

    Every trite perception of the hippie silliness is presented as gospel, cops kill a young long hair when he peacefully lands a plane. This movie is so horrible that it is not even funny to watch as a goof on the excesses of the hippie drone. It is like a left wing version of Dragnet, except without professional actors. The only reason I gave it two stars was because there are some obscurities of interest on the soundtrack, besides, I couldn't find a selection for negative stars.

    No actors, almost no plot, sheeze, barely even a got it, an "art" movie....All this done at root canal drilling slowness, dragging out each meaningless scene just to fill up time.

    In a bizarre twist of life imitating art, the star "nonactor" of the movie joined a commune in real life and robbed a bank in Boston, one of his co-robbers was killed and he was sent to jail where he was killed in a suspicious weightlifting "accident".....and just think, he got to leave this behind as a legacy....Oy vey.
  • This has to be one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen. The plot seemed random at best, with gaping holes and many contrived scenarios. The anti-police/anti-establishment propaganda was laid on so thick and one-sidedly that nobody could really have ended up taking this seriously. The more fascist the cops were portrayed, the more I rooted for the cops, just to avoid the deliberate manipulation. (And I hate fascist authority, which seems so prevalent today, even in the supposed free world, with a passion.)

    I guess this movie was made simply made for the money, ironically. The idea was to exploit the growing number of naive flower-power morons around at the time and other types who would relate to the "heroes" of the story: the plane-stealing idiot and the vacant girl.

  • bandw3 September 2013
    Before having seen this I had seen six other Antonioni movies ("The Passenger" being my favorite). Each of the six had some merit, so I was unprepared for this unfortunate effort.

    The movie starts off well enough with a fictionalized account of a student protest. I was a young man at the time of the student protests against "the establishment" in the late 1960s, and I think the specific account presented here is not far from some actual events at the time. From a distance of forty years hence, it might seem that the group discussion that opens the film among young activists arguing about tactics, and what makes one a true revolutionary, is far-fetched, but such meetings were not uncommon. I remember people I knew at the time would talk about "when the revolution comes," rather than "if the revolution comes," without any consideration of the fact that there wasn't going to be a revolution, at least not one in the style that they perceived.

    Once the main character, Mark, gets fed up with what he is seeing and hearing and takes off on a personal odyssey the movie leaves the realm of reality. There are too many plot holes to enumerate. Could Mark sneak onto an airport in broad daylight, appropriate a single engine plane (with the keys in it no less) and take off on his journey? And he tuns out to be a stunt pilot too? I think it can be stipulated that the movie is not concerned about appealing to the logically inclined, which does not necessarily make it a bad movie, but there is little to appeal to any frame of mind I think. The two lead actors are embarrassingly bad, even for non-professionals, and Rod Taylor gives his usual wooden performance. Maybe director Antonioni chose the unknown Mark Frechette to play the role of Mark since he has some physical and personality traits similar to Peter Fonda and Antonioni envisioned himself making his own "Easy Rider."

    I suppose the audience is being encouraged to identify with the free spirited and spontaneous Mark as opposed to the crass, materialistic, oppressive society that is presented, but the two extremes are drawn in such a heavy-handed manner that I felt bludgeoned by the message. Then there is the dialog that is so flat that I can't remember a single line. Apparently Sam Shepard shares some of the blame for that.

    There are some nude sex scenes which I guess are tossed in as a sop to the free love movement that was advanced by the counterculture of the 1960s. The scenes of young people rolling around in the desert having sex just felt odd to me. I think maybe Antonioni realized he was making a dog of a movie and some soft core porn might help at the box office. Or maybe in late middle-age this is how Antonioni contrived to be around some naked youngsters.

    The only positive in this for me was the beautiful cinematography of the Death Valley California landscapes. At least Antonioni's talent for the use of color is in evidence in the landscape scenes, as well as in the final explosion shots. I would have better appreciated Antonioni's making a travelogue than this thing.

    A good part of this movie takes place in Death Valley which contains the lowest point in the United States. This is fitting since I think this movie must also mark the lowest point in Antonioni's career.

    For a good understanding of the major themes of the 1960s in the United States, see the documentary "Berkeley in the Sixties."
  • sth988319 December 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    Though this may not necessarily be a so-called "classic" film by today's standards, it's still worth seeing. The main reason why is because after experiencing this film, you get the feeling that you've also experienced the counter-cultural idealism of the 60's, no matter however good or bad.

    I happened to see this film in an English literature class at SUNY Geneseo, and though at first it appears to be just a meaningless composition of 60's icons, the film is far from being simply "thrown together".

    My point is that if you leave the film feeling unsatisfied and confused, the film has done it's job: it's conveyed a desolate view of the future that leaves you feeling unsure and angry. It was perhaps this same feeling that the film sought to explore in the youth it exemplified.

    As such, "Zabriskie Point" may not tell a very good (or interesting) story, and at the same time its characters may be one-sided and predictable. However, it also conveys so well this sort of clichéd, rebellious desire to get out of the existence which both Mark and Daria must share. Even the anti-establishment students are as inauthentic as the gov't they rebel against.
  • JasparLamarCrabb2 November 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    Michelangelo Antonioni's American film has become a classic study of alienated youth despite the fact that it's not really a very good movie. It's muddled, poorly acted and awkwardly paced. It's challenging to be sure but there are also a lot of in-your-face imagery (endless signs of the consumerism the US embraces, police shooting AT rioting students) that help to form Antonioni's decidedly anti-American slant. Casting non-actors in the leads doesn't help. Combined, Daria Halprin & Mark Frechette have the charisma of a rock. Following two story lines (one involving Frechette and student revolutionaries, the other involving Haplprin and her boss/lover Rod Taylor) that lead to a highly explosive ending, the film is a beautifully photographed bore. It's dull rather than compelling. The rock songs that pepper the film (by the likes of Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and The Grateful Dead) add little. The screenplay was worked by Antonioni and Tonino Guerra along with Fred Gardner, Sam Shepard and Clare Peploe, but there's really very little here. As Frechette says early on in the film, "I'm willing to die...but not from boredom." If you feel that way, stay away from this one.
  • Aside from the great soundtrack, this film has to be the most self-righteous, obnoxious piece of tripe that I've ever had the great misfortune to see. I only watched it because the TV guide called it possibly the worst film ever made and I just couldn't resist that. Lord, they weren't far off!
  • In the late 60's, in Los Angeles, a group of revolutionary students is fighting for changing in the campus of their university. Mark (Mark Frechette), who has been expelled by the dean after many infractions in his academic life, decides to leave the area during a riot and hijacks a small airplane. Meanwhile, the student and temporary secretary Daria (Daria Halprin) is driving through the desert to attend a meeting scheduled by her boss Lee Allen (Rod Taylor) in Phoenix. Mark lands the airplane in Zabriskie Point where he spends the afternoon making love with Daria. When he returns to Los Angeles, he is shot inside the cabin by a police officer.

    This is the first time that I see "Zabriskie Point", a film that was censored in Brazil by the military dictatorship in the 70's. This polemic movie shows empty characters and many billboards and advertisements to disclose the emptiness of a generation and the excessive consumerism of the American society in the late 60's in the view of Antonioni. The cinematography, camera work and soundtrack are spectaculars. The original ending with the airplane writing "Fuck You, America" in the sky was withdrawn by the MGM president. The amateurs Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin became lovers after this film. Mark was sentenced to prison after robbing a bank and he died in prison in 1975 when the weight that he was lifting felt on his throat. Daria Halrpin married Dennis Hopper in 1972 and divorced in 1976. My vote is six.

    Title (Brazil): "Zabriskie Point"
  • I rented this film mainly for the Pink Floyd soundtrack, and it was the only good thing about it. Maybe this film captured the spirit of a generation thirty years ago, but now, the characters are nothing more than cardboard cliches'(like 'Singles' is for the '90s) Plus, that one scene where that pilot kept buzzing over that girls head, that went on for five minutes! God that was annoying! A difficult movie to sit through, and even the music stops helping after a while.
  • I originally saw this movie when it came out in 1970. I recently saw it on TV again, 30 years later.

    If there was a point to this movie - I missed it!

    There is no plot - there is little music, the acting is horrific, (I've seen a better movie from Ed Wood!)

    USUALLY, scene transitions are supposed to do one or both of the following:

    1. Advance the plot (there was no plot line to advance)

    2. Tell more about a character.

    This movie failed on ALL accounts.

    At least Ed Wood's movies are laughable.

    This is a complete waste of celluloid and a couple hours at best....

    Wayno (NO Reels out of 5)
  • I saw ZP when it was first released and found it a major disappointment. Its script seemed forced and arch and too fakey '60s. It's politics too upfront and ridiculous. And let's face it, I was still under a love-spell known as BLOWUP : and I still haven't completely shaken it. Now the "love" is twisted up with all sorts of nostalgia it evokes and, oh well . . . Good Luck to me!

    But time marches on and time has been kind to ZP and time has been a teacher to me. I revisit this film about every ten years and it just gets better and better with age. And ZP is it's own "experience"and is only really linked to BLOWUP through its creator, the late,great Mr. Antonioni.

    Twelve years ago, I had the great good fortune to see an absolutely pristine print, projected at its correct size (immense), restored by an Italian government cultural agency who knows a good work of art when they see it and knows the importance of keeping such a thing of beauty in good shape. To this day I remember the gasp from the audience when the first shot of Death Valley appeared. It was like a thousand volt visual shock Antonioni had intentionally delivered to wake us up to a new level of awareness. And indeed what follows from that point is an entirely different sort of "place".

    What is astonishing to me is how this film is coming into its own.

    I remember the second time around seeing it --- the early 80s --- I had begun to feel affection towards the film as a whole and towards Daria and Mark in particular. Whereas, before these two seemed like a smart-alecky shadow version of Zefferelli's Olivia and Leonard (read: Romeo and Juliet)they now were engaging me --- particularly The Girl in her insistent slo-motion-ality. She-took-her-time . . . To Live. Everything, EVERYTHING dies around her.

    Upon exciting the theater the daylight of Reality quickly began to erase my new found "enjoyment". The encroaching shoulder-padded, big haired 80s whispered "But that's a hippie fantasy --- let it go"

    The force of Antonioni's vision had, I had realised, already worked itself inside of me the FIRST time around so I answered "80s" with an "Uh-Huh" and guarded my "love" secretly, possessively and jealously.

    But, this, then is what good art does it lives inside of you, and, if you wish it has its way and "loves" you back: secretly, jealously, and possessively. And you get "changed".

    Was thrilled to see that Turner Classic Movies had decided to show ZP in its March lineup. Undoubtedly, ZP must be seen on a gigantic screen so that it can truly take you into its constructed environment. But, hey, sometimes even a glimpse of the Beloved in a newspaper photo is no better than no glimpse at all.

    Today reality hit, ZP has been withdrawn mysteriously and replaced with the whiney antics of ALICE'S RESTAURANT.

    So, it is still too "difficult", too "disturbing", too "what"?

    Maybe it's that, as with all good art, it Lives while everything dies around it.

  • In Michaelangelo Antonioni's epic hippie flick "Zabriskie Point," the viewer follows the standard cynical and hopeless views of two teenagers as they engage in several orgies, as Antonioni crams a few explosions and sprawling sexual scenes in there too. An uninspiring look at late-sixties America leaves nothing that no other director hadn't already done, while adding things that are pointless and only more embarassing. Its combination of surreal imagery and swirling music only makes things confusing. Everything was wasted cinematically, including great bands that provided the soundtrack. The grainy photography didn't help either. "Zabriskie Point" is yet another low in Antonioni's career, which has very few perks indeed, much like this film.
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