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Zabriskie Point

Fri Aug 14, 2015 - 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
International Film Friday: Cycle: Michelangelo Antonioni The film opens with a documentary-like scene in which white and black students argue about an impendi

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International Film Friday: Cycle: Michelangelo Antonioni

The film opens with a documentary-like scene in which white and black students argue about an impending student strike. Mark (Mark Frechette) leaves the meeting after saying he is "willing to die, but not of boredom" for the cause, which draws criticism from the young white radicals. Following a mass arrest at the campusprotest, Mark visits a police station hoping to bail his roommate out of jail. He is told to wait but goes to the lock-up area, asks further about bail for his roommate, is rebuffed, calls out to the arrested students and faculty and is arrested. He gives his name as Karl Marx, which a duty officer types as "Carl Marx". After he is released from jail, Mark and another friend buy firearms from a Los Angeles gun shop, saying they need them for "self-defense" to "protect our women."

In a downtown Los Angeles office building, successful real estate executive Lee Allen (Rod Taylor) reviews a television commercial for Sunny Dunes, a new resort-like real estate development in the desert. Instead of actors or models, the slickly produced commercial features casually dressed, smiling mannequins. In the next scene Allen talks with his associate (G. D. Spradlin) about the greater Los Angeles area's very rapid growth as the two drive through crowded streets.

Mark goes to a bloody campus confrontation between students and police. Some students are tear-gassed and at least one is shot. As Mark reaches for a gun in his boot, a Los Angeles policeman is seen being fatally shot, although it is unclear by whom.[5] Mark flees the campus and rides a city bus to suburbanHawthorne where, after failing to buy a sandwich on credit from a local blue-collar delicatessen, he walks to Hawthorne Municipal Airport (California), steals a small plane and flies into the desert.

Meanwhile, Daria (Daria Halprin), "a sweet, pot-smoking post-teenybopper of decent inclinations", is driving across the desert towards Phoenix in a 1950s-era Buick automobile to meet her boss, Lee, who may or may not also be her lover.[5] Along the way Daria is searching for a man, who works with "emotionally disturbed" children from Los Angeles. She finds the young boys near a roadhouse in the Mojave desert but they tease, taunt, and grab at her, boldly asking for "a piece of ass", to which she asks in reply, "are you sure you'd know what to do with it?" Daria flees in her car. While filling its radiator with water, she is spied from the air by Mark, who buzzes her car and then flies only fifteen feet over Daria as she lies face down in the sand. He throws a nightie out of the window of the plane for her to pick up. Daria goes from upset to curious and smiling during this sequence.

They later meet at the desert shack of an old man, where Mark asks her for a lift so he can buy gasoline for the airplane. The two then wander to Zabriskie Point, where they fornicate and the site's geological formations seem to come alive in a dusty orgyperformed by The Open Theater.[6]

Later a California highway patrolman suspiciously questions Daria. Hidden behind a portable toilet meant for tourists, Mark takes aim and almost shoots the policeman but Daria stands between the two of them to block this, apparently saving the policeman's life before he drives away. Daria asks Mark if he was the one who killed the cop in Los Angeles. He states that he wanted to but someone else shot the officer first and that he "never got off a shot".

Getting back to the stolen plane, they paint it with politically charged slogans and psychedelic colors. Daria pleads with Mark to travel with her and leave the plane but Mark is intent on returning and taking the risks that it involves. He flies back to Los Angeles and lands the plane at the airport in Hawthorne. The police (along with some radio and television reporters) are waiting for him. and patrol cars chase the plane down the runway. Rather than stopping, Mark tries to turn the taxiing plane around across the grass and is shot to death by one of the policemen. Daria learns about Mark's death on the car radio. She drives to Lee's lavish desert home, "a desert Berchtesgaden"[5] set high on a rock outcropping near Phoenix, where she sees three affluent women sunning themselves and chatting by the swimming pool. She grieves for Mark by drenching herself in the house's architectural waterfall. Lee is deeply immersed in a business meeting having to do with the complex and financially risky Sunny Dunes development. Taking a break, he spots Daria in the house and happily greets her. She goes downstairs alone and finds the guest room that has been set aside for her but after briefly opening the door, she shuts it again. Upon the sight of a young Native American housekeeper in the hallway, Daria leaves without a further word. She drives off but stops to get out of the car and look back at the house, leaving her own imagination seeing it repeatedly blown apart in billows of orange flame and softly flying consumer goods as a metaphor for her sadness and anger.

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