Zabriskie Point

Released:  1970

Cast:  Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin, Rod Taylor

SUMMARY:  On a college campus in 1970, a young man named Mark (Mark Frechette) is attending a meeting.  The meeting organizers want to strike against the school, and are trying to figure out how to do it.  Mark has no patience for the bickering, and after announcing that he is willing to die — but not of boredom — he walks out.  His friend and roommate remains involved, and after he is arrested with other protestors, Mark tries to bail him out of jail.  Instead, he is arrested himself.  This seems to win Mark over to the cause, and he helps a friend buy some guns from a store, telling the owner that they need to “protect their women”.  Sometime later, the protest erupts into violence between the students and police, and Mark hurries to the scene.  He joins in the fight and draws his gun on a police officer, who is then fatally shot.  Mark then flees the scene and heads to the nearby town of Hawthorne, where he steals a small airplane and flies into the desert.  Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, a real estate magnate named Lee Allen (Rod Taylor) is in negotiations for a development in the desert called Sunny Dunes.  He has arranged a meeting at his Phoenix home, and needs his secretary, Daria (Daria Halprin) to be there.  Daria is driving across the desert in an old Buick to get to this meeting.

While flying through the desert, Mark sees a solitary car on the road — Daria’s car.  He buzzes it several times, and even buzzes Daria after she leaves the car.  Finally, he throws a t-shirt out to her, which Daria is amused by.  Sometime later, she arrives at a roadside shack and finds Mark waiting.  The airplane is out of gas, and he needs a ride into town to get some.  Daria agrees to take him, but the two make a side trip to Zabriskie Point and have sex.  As the trip continues, Daria begins to suspect that Mark is the man she has been hearing about on the radio — the man who supposedly killed a police officer.  This suspicion is furthered when the pair stop in California and Daria is briefly questioned by an officer:  Mark draws his gun and aims at the officer (from behind), but is stopped by Daria.  She finally confronts him about the news, but he tells her that somebody else actually shot the officer on campus; he didn’t even fire his gun.  The two retrieve gas for the airplane, then return to it in the desert and give it a new paint job.  To Daria’s distress, Mark intends to return the airplane, and will not be dissuaded.  He does this, but the police are waiting for I’m and try to chase the plane on the runway.  Mark tries to turn around, but is shot by one of the officers; Daria hears all of this over the car radio.  She finally arrives in Phoenix, but has lost interest in business due to Mark’s death.  She stays in the house only briefly before she decides to leave again.  As she walks to the car, she stops and looks back at the house, imagining it exploding over and over again.

MY TAKE:  Well, for once I seem to have gotten it right.  The critics hated this movie when it came out, and according to Wikipedia it’s considered one of the worst movies ever made.  Thanks a lot, list.  Maybe because of this, it’s become a sort of cult classic, and some opinions of it have improved with time.  Personally, I think I’d rather watch Sharknado.  I don’t understand why movies like this are on the list, but awesome movies like Home Alone are not.  Seriously, who doesn’t love Home Alone?  The chief problem with this movie, at least in my mind, is that it’s colossally boring.  Apparently director/writer Michelangelo Antonioni heard about a guy who stole an airplane, then was killed trying to return it, and thought he would work the idea into his next movie.  Unfortunately, this seems to be the only plot line in the whole film, and there’s only so far you can stretch that.  He flies around the desert forever before he meets Daria.  Personally, if a guy had repeatedly buzzed me with his plane, I would not be giving him a ride to get more gas for the thing.  I would probably be telling him where he could go, and it wouldn’t be towards town.  It’s definitely a sign of the times, because not many people today would pick up a complete stranger in the middle of the desert (especially when there’s obviously something wrong with them, as they like to buzz cars on the highway).  I would also not be having a romp with him in the desert, for the same reasons.  In addition, after that the two of them have got to have dirt and sand in places they didn’t know they had.  Then they just drive forever, Mark flies forever, Daria drives some more, Mark gets shot, Daria drives, etc.  NOTHING HAPPENS.  Even at the end, when the house explodes, it was dragged out way too long.  I love a good explosion, but I don’t want to watch the same one in replay for five solid minutes.  It really felt like Antonioni had an idea that wasn’t long enough for a feature film, so he just milked out the driving/flying parts to make the movie long enough.

RATING:  Awful.

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