Zabriskie Point/Woodstock

zabriskie

“Zabriskie Point is everywhere!” wails Roy Orbison at the end of Michelangelo Antonioni’s  parched and pessimistic 1970 examination of America’s alienated youth, which earned scornful reviews and bombed at the box-office only a few weeks before Michael Wadleigh’s verdant music documentary “Woodstock” proved that there was still plenty of money to be found in the youth market.  Both films are out in handsome new editions from Warner Home Video this week, occasioning a compare and contrast from your obedient servant in The New York Times.

189 comments to Zabriskie Point/Woodstock

  • Jaime

    Zemeckis and Spielberg are equally talented but explode normal classification. Sometimes Spielberg’s films indicate greatness; others are called INDIANA JONES AND THE WHATEVER. Even his assassins disagree on his saving grace. (Most popular choice, the musical number that opens TEMPLE OF DOOM, which for me enhances the film as Saul Bass’s title work elevates the films of Hitchcock, Preminger, and Scorsese…i.e. enormously.

    Tourneur’s work may be great but the greatness of the work by non-great directors under Val Lewton is almost troublesome. I lost a friendship in suggesting that Tourneur’s non-Lewton worj, however great, did not compare to the great films by non-great directors in Lewton’s employ, but I offer it again.

    I don’t get the rivalry between Worral and John M. Can’t you guys agree that Miller Lite tastes great and is less filling, go watch TWILIGHT together on DVD, and shut the fuck up? I mean, damn…

  • Jaime

    worj should be work, obviously

  • Michael Dempsey

    Back to Antonioni — “Il Grido” this time, freshly reissued by Masters of Cinema.

    The heart of “Il Grido” lies in the misty landscapes of the Po Valley and the anguished spirit generated by refinery worker Aldo (Steve Cochran, so transformed from his rougher, cockier presence in “The Best Years of Our Lives” and “White Heat”) after his mistress (Alida Valli) abruptly and mysteriously leaves him.

    One might suppose that a man experiencing this would suffer for a while and then (as we like to say nowadays) move on. But Aldo cannot move on despite his wanderings and diverse new relationships.

    Its rejection of clear-cut explanations for Aldo’s fate links “Il Grido” to later Antonioni films although, unlike them, it deals with rural working class people instead of the rich or the well-connected.

    What finally emerges, and not because anyone says anything about it, is that the breakup snaps the link between Aldo and any belief he harbors that life — or his version of it — is worth continuing.

    Despite the commonplace caricature of the director as a gloomhead, happiness and outright joy are abundantly present in his works, including this one. But the film also shows unsparingly how the will to go on with life can suddenly, enigmatically vanish for reasons that are incomprehensible or trivial to others.

    The world of “Il Grido” could be those of “La Strada,” “Il Bidone,” “Le Notte di Cabiria,” or “Ossessione,” among other classics of postwar rural life in Italy. But more than his fellow filmmakers, Antonioni insists, quietly, that this basic truth about existence itself, as opposed to one or another set of social conditions, varies not one bit in our time no matter what the setting or social class.

    For a legitimate hope-inducing counterweight, he relies on the understated radiance of Gianni di Venanzo’s cinematography and the forceful vividness of the entire cast (some dubbed, like Cochran and Betsy Blair).

    Though it isn’t Antonioni’s feature debut, “Il Grido” seems to occupy a niche somewhat similar to one shared by Robert Bresson’s first feature, “Les Anges du Peche”: downgraded because it was made before the onset of its director’s later radical stylistics.

    However, both are wonderful achievements, and their presence on DVD (“Les Anges” in a superb set from Gallimard/Synops that includes a book by co-writer Jean Giraudoux) is most welcome.

  • Michael Worrall

    Jaime,

    I just thought I was posting a question on Spielberg/Levison/Zemickis in regard to stylistic changes and not attempting to set off fire works. I honestly don’t know what John M’s beef with me is, or why he consistently attacks me. I do not personally have any feeling of rivalry with him. I am perplexed as to why I am attacked when I say that I do not like Spielberg or Kael and that any attempt to present an argument is dismissed or ridiculed, along with no argument or position given as to why I should reconsider.

  • Kent Jones

    Tony! You’ve never seen THE NATURAL? Now you tell us! You’re a lucky man.

    Jaime, when I was making the Lewton film, I was astonished to come across the moment in the footage of Tourneur where he says something like: “I was a very straightforward guy, and Val Lewton gave me a measure of poetry.” Really, it made my jaw drop. I mean, one of the most poetic filmmakers in the history of the medium, and he claims that he lacked a sense of poetry before he met Lewton? I included it in the film, by the way. Personally, while I love THE SEVENTH VICTIM and all the rest of the Wise and Robson films, they lack a quality that’s there in those first three Tourneur films – a lightness, a sense of…poetry, in the rhythm, the movement of the film. Tourneur thought that he did his best work with Lewton, in addition to OUT OF THE PAST and STARS IN MY CROWN.

    Maybe “shut the fuck up” is a little too in-your-face?

    skelly, ANOTHER WOMAN is definitely an improvement over those other two forays into stone cold dead seriousness, but I shudder to think of what it would have been without Gena Rowlands and Sven Nykvist.

    Michael – you and Barry are so right. In fact, it strikes me that it’s now the rule rather than the exception that stars have control over films. Edward Norton is a perfect example. Dustin Hoffman was (but no longer is) the most egregious offender.

  • Barry Putterman

    Kent – Shall I invite Blake into the discussion by suggesting that it all begins with Brando and MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY?

    Jaime – I don’t know what the story is with John M and Michael, but my advise for you is; just change the channel.

  • Michael Worrall

    Thank you, Kent. Whenever I hear that Edward Norton is to be cast in a film, my sympathies immediately go to the director regardless of what I think of his/her talent. (Didn’t Norton pull a stunt with the last Hulk film? I think he even tried to tell Marvel Comics how to do their job.)

  • Jonathan M.

    the last few paragraphs are kind of fun :)
    John Fahey on Antonioni

  • Jaime

    Kent, I got a little carried away. Tourneur anecdote is fascinating, telling. Sometimes artists meet people who open up tunnels in their head, or as Tracey Morgan would put it, thaw out their thoughtsicles! I suppose it’s a matter of time before I recognize the greatness of Tourneur’s post-Lewton work as you have. (Not that I think his stuff’s small potatoes!). But I was younger and I believe that if one thing defines canonical directors, it’s that you have to revisit a good share of their work every time you find yourself a little older.

  • Alex Hicks

    “Zemeckis and Spielberg are equally talented but explode normal classification.”

    It’s pretty evident that the two dirextors do “explode normal classicifation — but “equally talented” seems of to me a big stretch unless one reduces talent to kind of technical skill (e.g., mastery of a wide range of action sequences) or uses talent in a narrowly circumscribed way, as in ‘Eugene O’Neill was a dramatist of more genius than talent” (bold powerful vision and clunky structure and dialogue). If directorial abilty to express or shape coherent vision in and across individual works has any relation to talent, then I’d say Zemickis towers over Spielberg, unless perhaps one does not discount Kidpix and the (to me) strained seriousness of “Schindler’s List” in one’s artistic assessments. I’d only place “Jaws” up there with “Rabbit,” “Future” and “Cast Away”
    though i like a lot of Speilbergs — Temple of Doom, Catch Her if You Can, Terminal– quite a lot.

  • Jaime

    I don’t see eye to eye on Spielberg with you; I know I was vague in what I said but, having had the discussion millions of times over the last 20 yrs, I don’t know where else to go. Peace, one love, etc.

    I didn’t think Zemeckis was worth the trouble until I saw BEOWULF. Now I want to revisit his previous films…kind of the same reaction I had with Joe Dante’s (obviously totally different) HOMECOMING.

  • Alex Hicks

    Jaime, I certainly find a lot of Speilberg very adept and enjoyable: and I am relieved that you didn’t note that I discounted Spielberg for Kidpix while lauding “Rabbit” and “Future.”

  • Kent Jones

    “the greatness of Tourneur’s post-Lewton work” – well, greatness in many of the films. But great films? OUT OF THE PAST and STARS IN MY CROWN for sure. EXPERIMENT PERILOUS and CANYON PASSAGE and CURSE OF THE DEMON are very good. NIGHTFALL and WICHITA and EASY LIVING are very good too. I mean, if you look at THE FEARMAKERS, which was actually on TCM the other day, there’s real beauty there, but a great fillm it isn’t.

    Regarding Dustin Hoffman, I once ran into a friend over at the Brill Building. He was with a tall, elegant man, and he introduced him to me as Nestor Almendros. My friend had been his assistant on BILLY BATHGATE. I asked about the hold-up on the movie, and he said, “There’s only one problem with that movie: Dustin Hoffman.” He told me that he had such a frustrating time working on the film that at the wrap party, he got very drunk, went up to him, shook his hand and said, “It’s been great trying to work with you. What are you directing next?”

    John M, I’m sure you’re right, PAs are not to be trusted, and directors certainly do look at their watches, frequently. However, I don’t know of many of them, and have never met one, who look at their watch and get up to leave the set but allow the shoot to go on. Meanwhile, is Barry Levinson, the man who brought you SLEEPERS, TOYS, BANDITS and SPHERE, really a “fine director?”

  • Tellos

    ‘The greatness of Tourneur’s post-Lewton work” – well, greatness in many of the films. But great films?’

    So films like CANYON PASSAGE, CURSE OF THE DEMON, NIGHTFALL and WICHITA are not great! For sure, Tourneur is not as ‘protean, mercurial and supremely gifted ‘ as…Desplechin.

    ‘I really like Jacques Tourneur, because he had to do horror films and detective films and Westerns, in order to say the same thing that Bresson says to us. That’s difficult, poor guy. He has an idea, I believe it’s the same idea that the world is not right, that there’s evil, and that we can communicate this idea, and he has to make a horror film to convey this idea. I really admire Jacques Tourneur, because he makes very beautiful things, with a sort of eternity. The themes of Tourneur’s films are always important, are still relevant today.

    All of this is to say that we can use the cinema to represent things in two very different ways. In Hollywood, we can make highly fictional, adventuresome stories that say exactly the same thing that Bresson says without the same artifice, without needing to use effects. Yet, we can equally love Bresson and Tourneur, even if they stand for two totally different ways of representing the world.’ Pedro Costa

  • Kent Jones

    Tellos – What a kind and thoughtfully collegial retort. Thanks so much for the lecture.

    So, the fact that I don’t think every film by Jacques Tourneur is a masterpiece means that I’m dismissing him? I agree with every word of Costa’s quote. Tourneur is one of the greatest filmmakers who ever worked anywhere, under any circumstances. Does that mean that i have to think NIGHTFALL is as great as I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE? If we decide someone is great, does that mean that everything they produce is of equivalent greatness?

  • Tellos

    ‘I don’t think every film by Jacques Tourneur is a masterpiece’ -so I claimed that every film by Tourneur is a masterpiece.

    NIGHTFALL is not a great film and STALKING MOON is
    a great film -why?

  • Jaime

    Kent, I was really just trying to acknowledge the fact that you probably saw more in Tourneur than I, although I quite like him (CAT PEOPLE and STARS IN MY CROWN most of all), that you likely have seen more “in him” than I could, and maybe I overstated it because it seemed like you backed up and had to convey: “Whoa, I’m not saying all his films are great.” Which is funny, because then Tellos responded (or appeared to) that you were discounting him. Sorry, it looks like we made you paddle all around the beach, there.

    Just goes to show that “proper placement” of directors is useful, but not all that useful.

    I dig Tellos’s citation of Pedro Costa… I’m always a bigger fan of structuring auteurism around form before theme, but comparing Tourneur to Bresson is very complimentary to both directors.

  • For whatever it’s worth, another Tourneur film that I consider very close to great is WICHITA–Tourneur’s best film by far in Scope, now finally available in that format. And some of the (other) flawed ones, such as THE LEOPARD MAN and even APPOINMENT IN HONDURAS, are pretty amazing.

  • Kent Jones

    Jaime, this is one of those strange grey internet zones. As I’ve pointed out on certain occasions and Blake Lucas recently pointed out to me, any given statement made by anybody here should probably be preceded by the words “in my opinion.” I try to do that myself, but it gets cumbersome and boring, sort of like Gregory Bateson’s failed attempt to append the words “in nature” to every use of the term “human being.” Anyway, while I think there’s something very special about the Tourneur/Lewton films (as did Tourneur), you should check out all of the above…or give them another look, at least. Bertrand Tavernier and Jean-Pierre Coursoudon suggest that Tourneur’s films need to be seen in good prints in rooms with good sound, because the dialogue is usually recorded at a very low level. I think that’s quite right.

    tellos, I stand corrected you did not say that every Tourneur film is a masterpiece. Meanwhile, go bait someone else. I’m sure Armond White is in the mood.

  • John M

    ‘Meanwhile, is Barry Levinson, the man who brought you SLEEPERS, TOYS, BANDITS and SPHERE, really a “fine director?”’

    Well, I’m conflicted. I do like DINER and AVALON, two lovingly done memory films about the ties of home and family. The ensembles in both are thoughtful, funny, great. And both films are beautifully photographed, but that’s just it–in their sense of space and depth, they’ve got little to offer beyond cool beauty. Like Redford, Levinson is smart and fitfully attentive, but leans quite heavily on his own good taste. (The absolute worst case of the “tasteful” 80s visual stylist would be the Brothers Scott.)

    To be charitable, if one were to look at DINER and AVALON as the foundation of Levinson’s output–the films he cares about, in the way that CHE and THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE are the films Soderbergh cares about–then he’s a sensitive, sharp-humored chronicler of his own personal history. But he’s a case of the work-for-hire-in-the-extreme and your anecdote, Kent, seems to indicate just how extreme it can get. When he’s connected to the material, he shows up, and when he’s not, he leaves early!

    Maybe I’ve just seen his career through a prism, because until your anecdote, I had no idea he even directed DISCLOSURE! And that’s just it–his voice seeps through only those projects he cares about…and when it does seep through, it’s generally through those vessels that many auteurists consider secondary: actors and words. With a side of pretty pictures.

    He’s not an auteur. Or, again, to be charitable, he’s an auteur with astute bipolar disorder.

    I will say, though, that I find many of his films pleasant and efficient, not plodding or square like films by Ron Howard or Chris Columbus…directors who have truly earned the epithet “hack through and through.” So there’s that. He handles material well sometimes: WAG THE DOG, BUGSY, even some stretches of RAIN MAN. (Talk about a film hijacked by its lead performer.)

    He also directed the very first episode of HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS–the first major foray into TV, if I’m not mistaken, of house favorite David Simon. The style of the show–handheld, jump-cut urgency–has been imitated ad nauseum, and pretty much sapped of said urgency. But that’s not his fault–he started it.

    (And I remember liking Bandits…funny and light…was I high? Does this discredit me entirely? Oh, no, that would be my pure-cut love of TEMPLE OF DOOM.)

  • Tellos

    ‘go bait someone else’

    My pleasure, but who is Armond White?

  • John M

    My pleasure, but who is Armond White?

    Ah, worlds to discover! Glorious, horrifying worlds!

  • Kent Jones

    Jonathan, I’d be curious to know what you see as the flaws in THE LEOPARD MAN. I know that Tourneur and Lewton both felt they’d gone too far with the violence, but the film has always seemed to me to be one of his greatest.

    I bought the Warner Archive copy of WICHITA and am waiting for a good moment to watch it. It sits proudly on my shelf, next to CURSE OF THE DEMON and CANYON PASSAGE. Which reminds me: NIGHTFALL will be out soon on DVD, in a noir package from Sony along with THE BROTHERS RICO, MURDER BY CONTRACT and a few other titles I’m forgetting right now. A Fuller box is also on its way, with UNDERWORLD USA, THE CRIMSON KIMONO and several films he wrote.

    As a point of interest, Manny Farber told me several times before he died that he wished he’d written on Tourneur (as you know, he taught I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE frequently). He also figured that he’d “missed the boat” on Hitchcock.

  • Kent Jones

    John M, a reasonable assessment. Don’t worry, you’re in no imminent danger of Auteurist ex-communication.

    Jonathan, I’d be curious to know what you see as the flaws in THE LEOPARD MAN. I know that Tourneur and Lewton both felt they’d gone too far with the violence, but the film has always been one of my favorites.

    I bought the Warner Archive copy of WICHITA and am waiting for a good moment to watch it. It sits proudly on my shelf…next to CURSE OF THE DEMON and CANYON PASSAGE. Which reminds me: NIGHTFALL will be out soon on DVD, in a noir package from Sony along with THE BROTHERS RICO, MURDER BY CONTRACT and a few other titles I’m forgetting right now. A Fuller box is also on its way, with UNDERWORLD USA, THE CRIMSON KIMONO and several films he wrote.

    As a point of interest, Manny Farber told me several times before he died that he wished he’d written on Tourneur (as you know, he taught I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE frequently). He also figured that he’d “missed the boat” on Hitchcock.

  • Barry Putterman

    John M, It may just be that the story of his early life is the only one that Barry Levinson has to tell. He certainly wouldn’t be alone in that boat. The rest is making a living.

    Remember, he was around as a writer long before DINER. And even what was supposed to be the personal story of himself and wife/partner Valerie Curtin, BEST FRIENDS, pretty much came at us as indistinguishable from the kind of romantic comedy we were getting from Mel Frank and others at that time. Blame Norman Jewison if you want, but it looks to me to have turned out the way it was written.

    But look, you or anybody else can like Levinson or Spielberg or Tim Holt or The Three Stooges, and we’ve got a forum here for you to explain why you like them. And maybe I don’t like them and won’t be convinced by your reasons. But, so what? Nobody died. As Hitchcock told Ingrid Bergman; “it’s only a movie.”

  • Kent, the only real flaw for me in THE LEOPARD MAN is the rather hurried ending. Otherwise it’s certainly underrated.

    There’s a very memorable Farber painting about Tourneur, called “Shadow World” (after the Robin Wood essay).

  • AG

    Christ, Kent, I cannot believe you reminded me of the existence of TOYS. Levinson still owes me ninety minutes of his life for that.

    I have been thinking of the Tourneur horror films this week after seeing DRAG ME TO HELL and pondering why the Raimi film left me feeling empty, even while it had fun parts. Where the Raimi film has a boisterous, antic lunacy – lots of sound and fury – there is a soulfulness, an intangibility about the Tourneur films that I prefer. They really get under your skin. Is there a creepier performance anywhere than Niall MacGinnis in CURSE OF THE DEMON? The compression (the poetry) in the Tourneur horror films makes them irreducibly strange.

    I am tempted to say that THE LEOPARD MAN is to DRAG ME TO HELL what Dietrich is to Jayne Mansfield – elusive mystique vs vulgar spectacle – but in the end they are not trying to do the same thing. I enjoyed the Raimi film, but it was disposable where the Tourneur films are unforgettable.

    The critical response to DRAG ME TO HELL has been odd, too, congratulating Raimi for doing what a director is supposed to do, i.e. actually direct. A reflection of the recent glut of bad horror film remakes, I guess. When should we expect Zack Snyder’s remake of I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE?

  • Kent Jones

    AG – sorry about that. But what about SLEEPERS? It makes TOYS look like CAT PEOPLE.

    Can I say that I feel as you do about most Raimi films? Except, oddly enough, SPIDER MAN 2. He seems very much at home in summer blockbuster territory. Having said that, the 3rd one was a disappointment. I do want to give DRAG ME TO HELL a try, though.

    Niall MacGinnis is remarkable in CURSE OF THE DEMON, and the storm at the birthday party is one of my favorite scenes in all of Tourneur.

    “This film still seems to be one of Hollywood’s original gems” – Farber on THE LEOPARD MAN.

  • Alex Hicks

    “Zabriskie Point,” whioch I’ve jsu reseen, is beautifully composed visually, smoothly edited, lightly paced – like “Blow Up,” it is almost briskly in comparison with most Antonioni, perhaps because these Americans and Brits drive around a lot. It’s nicely evocative of the emptiness of the American landscape, cultural and Southwestern — in particular as it relates to its alienated protagonists.
    Alas, as a film set up by scenes linked to the student protest movements of the late 1960s- – most saliently campus strike extensions of the Anti-War movement.., the film begs to be taken as what would, upon release, have been “current history” and as history of the plain, old retrospective variety today and on this score it strike me a fragile construction guaranteed to alienate large and varied swaths of viewers.
    It start with an anti-War campus strike (or shutdown) planning session heavy with (if I may) BS revolutionary jargon that confuses the rote openness of Black militants to arms (if only for /self defense) with a generally anti-violence (and certainly anti-gun) orientation by anti-Vietnam war activists. Its sole expression of irony vis-à-vis this fringe rhetoric (even for campus activism organizers) is Mark’s proclamation that he’d die for the revolution but “not of boredom,” which in the context of Mark’s expressed desire for more decisive action and a gun veers off into idiosyncratic armed vigilantism rather than toward recognition of the restrained pragmatism of the anti-War movement (which first shifted in to vehement protest after the October 1967 Anti-Dow recruitment sit in at the Commerce building of the University of Wisconsin-Madison that was greeted by brutal clubbings in Commerce’s halls). The treatment of scales of police of protester violence – with allusions to deaths and hundreds of injured) is often false as regards event preceding the film’s completion, if perhaps prophetic of the 1970 events at Kent State. And it is certainly inaccurate for LA.
    Importantly, Mark shoots no one, as his hand gun clearly is still being prevented from being drawn from his boot by its catch on a shoe lace at the moment the shot rings out that kills a policeman. True, quick cutting across the protest events, including Mark reaching for his gun and the policeman’s shooting fall does promote the viewer perception that Mark as killer, and this is intensified by Mark’s flight and will cloud some viewer’s empathy for Mark.
    Still, viewed as Dave K’s “parched and pessimistic 1970 examination of America’s alienated youth,” ZP holds up a revealing mirror to late 1960 youth alienation (and transcendence),even if provides no nuanced report on the student protest movements heterogeneity or central tendencies.

  • Alex Hicks

    Sorry about “whioch I’ve jsu reseen,” just about. That should be “which I’ve just re-seen.”

  • Kent Jones

    Alex, have you re-seen ALICE’S RESTAURANT lately? Another film that “holds up a revealing mirror to late 1960 youth alienation.”

  • Tony Wiliams

    It is definitely reflecting the mood of alienation of that time and I still remember the line of that disaffected female student radical who says something like “Hey guys! I’m not making the coffee for you anymore” in the beginning.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘It start with an anti-War campus strike (or shutdown) planning session heavy with (if I may) BS revolutionary jargon that confuses the rote openness of Black militants to arms (if only for /self defense) with a generally anti-violence (and certainly anti-gun) orientation by anti-Vietnam war activists.’

    That was improvised dialog scene. Kathleen Cleaver of Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was in that scene. Frank Bardacke of Vietnam Day Comittee later interviewed in documentary BERKELEY IN THE SIXTIES also in that scene talking.

    ‘veers off into idiosyncratic armed vigilantism rather than toward recognition of the restrained pragmatism of the anti-War movement (which first shifted in to vehement protest after the October 1967 Anti-Dow recruitment sit in at the Commerce building of the University of Wisconsin-Madison that was greeted by brutal clubbings in Commerce’s halls). The treatment of scales of police of protester violence – with allusions to deaths and hundreds of injured) is often false as regards event preceding the film’s completion, if perhaps prophetic of the 1970 events at Kent State. And it is certainly inaccurate for LA.’

    Antonioni is coming from Europe, armed struggle already started there, Benno Ohnesorg student protestor already killed by West German police (earlier Kariya Yoshiko killed by police during AMPO protest)so he is showing it happening in America too. Black militants already being killed by police in America. At European and Japanese demonstration hundreds injured. Also, wasn’t hundreds injured at Chicago Convention protest August 1969? Because of that Weatherunderground is formed. I think Antonioni is having this background in the movie, showing that armed struggle could happen in America too. But that is one part of movie. Also, like FAMILY PLOT, city is combined Los Angeles and San Francisco. Campus is San Francisco State University.

  • alex hicks

    Junko,

    I don’t see how the contributions of Kathleen Cleaver and Frank Bardacke to the openning scene of ZB say anthing about the quote from me you address. In fact, the presence of each is quite consistent with the biased tilt of the film’s meeting rhetoric that I address. As for violence at campus protest, there was a lot of blood from clubbings and a lot of tear gas –I admired a Wisconsin friend who could pass an unexploded tear gas cannister through the air into an open police car window — but, no, there was little or gun fire and no killings — unless you count the Weather Underground’s self influicted casualties or police interactions with Black urbam militants– until Kent State. (Violence against Black militants certainly was extensive and a cogent reason for the radicalism of many late ’60s Black militants in all their movement roles, but I don’t think it undermines my point about the “rote openness of Black militants to arms (if only for /self defense) with a generally anti-violence (and certainly anti-gun) orientation by anti-Vietnam war activists.” )

    Attribution to Antonioni of the the view that “armed struggle could happen in America too” seems to me less favorable toward Antonioni as artists or political commentator than the view that that he made the introductory scene’s talk so thoroughky and windily radical so as to provide one of several reference points for Mark’s alienation. (By windy I mean that talk of revolution in 1969-70 seems to me never to have been well grounded except as a report on or from people starting up a dead end. But then it’s my view that revolutionary movements in the West have typically been, at best, awkward stepping stones toward social democratic realism and achievments, a view that I suspect differentiates my perspective from yours.)

  • Junko Yasutani

    Alex, I didn’t say it right. Those real radicals was saying windy rhetoric that they believed even if wrong. It fit Antonioni’s theme so he used it.

    I know anti-war protest was with non-violent intention by protesters. But I think Antonioni was seeing through European perspective, so he believed it would become violent like in Europe.

    I agree about your view of revolutionary movements in the West, but in the East it has been different starting in Russia. To me Bolshevik success was disaster for world wide socialist movement, because anti-colonial revolution in Asia imitated Bolshevik success in Russia with repression. I am more sympathetic to Spanish Revolution.

    About revolutionary movement in world today, only EZLN in Mexico is doing something good.

  • Alex Hicks

    I was in Chile in July, 1971, doing a little looking around and cheering, but for a Latin American social democracy, not exactly revolution.

    Big business was already so mobilized that people at the coffee bars facing the stock market would cheer, as at a great Soccer victory, when stock prices fell or forecasts dived: hope in the disruptive potential of a bad economy, property security over profits.

    Ever seen Patricio Guzman’s excellent “La Batalla de Chile,” or his “Le cas Pinochet (2001)?”

    I think the Spanish revolution got pretty messed up by foreign interventions, Russian included.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘Ever seen Patricio Guzman’s excellent “La Batalla de Chile,” or his “Le cas Pinochet (2001)?”’

    I have not seen them. I will look for them.

    ‘I think the Spanish revolution got pretty messed up by foreign interventions, Russian included.’

    Yes, Stalin ordered counter-revolution in Spain. Orwell has described it from being there.

  • Joseph McBride

    ZABRISKIE POINT is the film Orson Welles is spoofing with
    the film-within-the-film directed by John Huston’s
    Jake Hannaford in THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. The ending
    with the house blowing up in the Antonioni film was filmed not far from the desert house where Welles shot much of OTHER WIND outside Carefree, Arizona.

  • Richard Ashton

    Zabriskie Point holds a massively important place in the development of Pink Floyd. For those who care about such things, the Floyd developed a lot of a material that Antonioni rejected because ‘eez too sad’ (to quote Roger Waters). The Rhino/TCM double CD soundtrack has a lot of these outtakes, and the bootleg albums variously titled ‘Beyond Zabriske’ have more. The key Floyd development was the rejection of a Rick Wright piano composition titled ‘The Violent Sequence.’ It would reappear three years and four albums later as ‘Us and Them’ on ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ One of those great butterfly effect moments whereby Antonioni’s rejection inadvertently allowed the crystalized sadness of ‘Dark Side’.