Sunday, June 2, 2013

1970 - ZABRISKIE POINT, flawed but impressive study of American culture circa 1970.

Antonioni's look at America should have been a masterpiece of film making.  However his decision to cast two non actors, Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin created deep flaws in Zabriskie Point which affected the overall film.  Antonioni's gamble that the audience would identify with his two main characters simply did not work.  Professionals like Rod Taylor. G. D. Spradlin and Paul Fix really demonstrate the ineptitude of the performances of "Mark and Daria."

Yet, this film has some strong points to make about American consumerism and the culture that created it.  If Antonioni at times stumbles into pretentiousness at least he's trying to say something.  Obviously scenes such as the group orgy at Death Valley's Zabriskie Point and the final scenes of destruction in Arizona are over the top, but they are extremely well done.

At the time this film was released, American critics clobbered it with some of the worst reviews a major director had ever received.  The 70's counterculture audience that MGM hoped would make the film a success failed to show up and the film was a fairly big budget disaster for 1970.  The film's criticism of the American way of life probably hit a little to close to home for the public.

A major asset to Zabriskie Point is the cinematography by an Italian photographer Alfio Contini,  The film is very impressive to look at,

110 minutes.

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