Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point  is a 1970 American drama film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni about the 1960s counterculture of the United States. Some of the film's most iconic scenes were shot on location at Zabriskie Point in California.

The film was the second of three English-language films that Antonioni did for MGM, but the first shot in the U.S. He had done the successful film Blowup in 1966 a mildly-successful film, The Passenger in 1975. He was best known for his 1959 film L'Avventura.

The film was an overwhelming commercial flop and got almost totally bad reviews. But, like many films, its reputation has improved with age. I saw it when it was released and thought it was nonsensical, but it had interesting cinematography which gets a big boost from the actual desert setting.

The film is available on DVD but rarely shows up at festivals and I've never seen it listed on TV. Does this give it some cult status?

It is an indictment of the American society of the time. One of the two protagonists is Mark. he is a college student who spends more time at protest rallies than isn classes. He carries a gn and tat gets him misidentified as the shooter in a cop killing. He runs away, stealing a small airplane. He meets up with Daria in the california desert and they have sex, travel a bit and pretty much do not much.

I don't know what my take would be on the film if I watched it again today. Have you seen it recently? Give us a mini-review in the comments section.

The Open Theatre of Joe Chaikin as the Lovemakers in Death Valley

I did some digging online and turned up that Harrison Ford has an uncredited role as one of the arrested student demonstrators being held inside a Los Angeles police station.

Co-stars Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette actually did fall in love during production and moved together to the experimental Fort Hill Community. Later, Daria was married to Dennis Hopper for four years. Mark teamed up with three other members of the Fort Hill Community and pulled off a bank robbery in 1973, using a gun without bullets. He went to prison and died there "accidentally."

Zabriskie Point was released a year after Easy Rider and the two are sometimes compared to each other.  Both show the "generation gap" of that decade. They are visually different films with a hippie vibe and eclectic soundtracks. Some critics say that Antonioni took the final scene of Dennis Hopper’s film and decided to make it into a feature film.

Zabriskie Point may have been chosen as a location because it is literally America's lowest point. Antonioni was very critical of the United States and the film certainly shows that.

The film is split between the phony, capitalistic big city, and the bare but beautiful desert.

I can't really recommend the film's music which is sometimes considered to be a "lost" soundtrack. On Amazon you can only get third-party/used versions. If you can get to listen to it - perhaps a borrowed copy and some psychedelics would be preferable -  you'll find some bizarre stuff.  It features The Pink Floyd (with the article "The" intact), The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and Patti Page.

You can find most of these tracks on their original sources, but there are some tracks that were composed specifically for the film. Director Antonioni was attracted to Floyd's Ummagumma album, particularly the track "Careful with That Axe, Eugene."  I'll post a Spotify for it below, but here is a track list from the 2-CD version that restored the lost tracks.

Disc: 1
1. Heart Beat, Pig Meat - The Pink Floyd
2. Brother Mary - The Kaleidoscope
3. Dark Star (Excerpt) - The Grateful Dead
4. Crumbling Land - The Pink Floyd
5. Tennesee Waltz - Patti Page
6. Sugar Babe - The Youngbloods
7. Love Scene - Jerry Garcia
8. I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again - Roscoe Holcomb
9. Mickey's Tune - The Kaleidoscope
10. Dance Of Death - John Fahey
11. Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up - The Pink Floyd

Disc: 2
1. Love Scene Improvisations-Version 1 - Jerry Garcia
2. Love Scene-Version 2 - Jerry Garcia
3. Love Scene-Version 3 - Jerry Garcia
4. Love Scene-Version 4 - Jerry Garcia
5. Country Song - The Pink Floyd
6. Unknown Song - The Pink Floyd
7. Love Scene-Version 6 - The Pink Floyd
8. Love Scene-Version 4 - The Pink Floyd

The actual location of Zabriskie Point is located east of Death Valley in in California. It has some surreal erosional landscape and is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago, which is long before Death Valley came into existence.

It was named for Christian Brevoort Zabriskie who was a vice president of the Pacific Coast Borax Company which mined borax from that area.

Here is a some trivia about the place.
Philosopher Michel Foucault took an acid trip at Zabriskie Point in 1975 and said it was the greatest experience of his life.
It is shown on the cover of U2's album The Joshua Tree.
It was the location used to represent the surface of Mars in the film Robinson Crusoe on Mars.

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