It has been a long time since a film or a book has really made me think.
When I picked up Zabriskie Point from the library this weekend, I wasn't expecting anything special to happen. In fact, when I watched the film, nothing did. I thought the film was kind of boring, a little too preachy, and way too abstract.
But for the past two days, I can't get this film out of my head. Images from it haunt me and the more I analyze the film, the more it makes sense.
Zabriskie Point is a film, by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, which paints the landscape of 1960s America. It follows two 20-something Americans as their lives cross in an unexpected way.
Mark Frechette plays the sexy rebel-without-a-cause Mark, a college dropout who gets caught up in the radical movement of 1960s young America. Daria Halprin plays the sweet college student Daria who works part-time for a property developer building subdivisions in the California desert. Their lives intersect during a road trip to Phoenix.
I don't want to give too much of the film away. But it's a film that deals with the same problems America is facing today:
-Youth who are tired of feeling powerless
-Authority figures who abuse power
-Corporations inflicting culture
-Unhappiness derived from everything and yet nothing
The film was so radical for its time (there is a dusty orgy scene that takes place in a desert, along with several liberal themes) that production was continuously harassed by right-wing groups and the FBI.
Unfortunately, the film was so abstract and political, it ended up being a box office failure when it hit movie theaters in 1970. But it has since become a cult classic.
And I think many viewers of this film have the same reaction as me. Images of despair and uncertainty linger at the edge of memory. Visions of love and hate intertwine.
What I found even more fascinating was the real-life story of the two young actors themselves.
Mark and Daria fell in love during the filming of Zabriskie Point and after filming, they moved to a commune near Boston. In 1973, Mark and a few of his fellow cult members robbed a bank near the commune and were caught. To shed light on how similar Mark was to his Zabriskie Point character, here is his explanation for the bank robbery: "It would be like a direct attack on everything that is choking this country to death." In 1975, however, Mark died in prison during a freak weight-lifting accident.
Daria, on the other hand, went on to marry actor Dennis Hopper and co-founded a dance therapy institute with her mother.
I highly recommend this film to everyone. Love it or hate it, the message is clear: The world needs to change.
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