Sunday, March 1, 2009

ZABRISKIE POINT (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1970, USA) Mark and Daria fuck amid the barren desert, the lifeless womb of Death Valley: he drifts among the clouds while she drives endlessly, both drowning in sea change. ZABRISKIE POINT is a film of its time: it could not be made today as we see the past through a faded veil of retrospect or diseased nostalgia. Director Michelangelo Antonioni creates a vaporous dream-world where his characters linger; Mark in his hijacked plane rising above reality and Daria racing down the two-lane blacktop…both about to clash with harsh reality. They escape together far from the madding crowd and into the desert, imagining their free love shared with other castaways and drifters. Both characters are archetypes, meant to represent ideas rather than multi-faceted individuals, and possibly Antonioni displays contempt for the nihilistic militant drama that ends on a long road to nowhere. We feel emotionally disconnected from the narrative, though the intense cinematography is always interesting: he utilizes roving close-ups and pan shots that are disorienting and experimental, and often focuses our attention upon billboards and advertising. This creates frisson as the dichotomy between those in power and those without is delineated; Mark and Daria represent those without power…but with the ability to choose. After their brief affair, he returns to meet his fate in a rain of bullets, not willing to be consumed by The Man. Daria’s option is more profound for she can become part of the Order, accepted into the status quo: she looks towards the mansion on the hill and makes up her mind; imagining an explosive orgy of fire and death, she drives away disappearing into the scintillating desert haze. Antonioni films the final explosion from seemingly twenty different angles, showing the destruction in slow motion while the soundtrack thrums with hypnotic Pink Floyd music. If destruction is a form of creation, what New World Order shall Daria discover? (B-)

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