Reviewed by Jason Coffman
Rating: 9.5 Beans
ccording to many film fanatics, Michelangelo Antonioni is a genius. I have to date only seen two of his films, and neither of them testify much to that idea. "Zabriskie Point" is not in the least bit engaging, and barely entertaining. Symbolism and all that exciting cinematic stuff are present, according to the back of the videotape case, but I didn't care. And neither did any of the other people I watched it with.
We are introduced in the opening scene to a big group of hippies. One of them named Mark (Mark Frechette) decides that it's not his scene, and some other hippie makes a comment about how if he's going to be a revolutionary, he needs to learn to work with other people. The best line of dialogue is over at this point.
Another hippie, this one a girl named Daria (Daria Halprin), works for a big corporation. I'm sure an argument can be made that Daria isn't really a hippie, but she's in this movie. That's close enough. Daria is out in the desert scouting locations for a new project her corporation is planning. The scenes in which the corporate old guys are shown a promotional movie substituting mannequins for real people are actually very good. They don't last long enough, though.
Mark goes to a campus shut down by police and is about to shoot a cop when someone does it for him. Thinking the law is probably after him, Mark steals a plane and goes flying over the desert. Daria is also in the desert (she runs into a group of little boys who try to rape her in one bizarre scene). Eventually, the two meet and go running around in the sand. Then they start to make love and there are suddenly about a hundred other people all around having sex.
Say what you will about the 70s and hippies and free love and all that, but this does not make for compelling filmmaking. The ending sequence, in which Daria imagines the huge cliffside home her boss lives in exploding, along with slow-motion shots of other symbols of capitalist greed (i.e. television, refrigerator, a rack of clothes) is absolutely amazing. But it could have been done in a short film all to itself. Despite a few brilliant scenes, "Zabriskie Point" is boring and overlong, and certainly doesn't make me want to join a counterculture group. In fact, it's one of the best arguments against such movements I've ever seen. It is this that makes me think "Zabriskie Point" is as true a depiction of youth culture in the early 70s as was ever made.
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