In the late 1960's, a college student (Mark Frechette) is caught up in the changing mood of the era and is suspected of shooting a police officer. He escapes the city by plane, and meets up with a secretary (Daria Halprin) who is driving through the desert.
It took five people to write director Michelangelo Antonioni's controversial sixties hangover movie - Antonioni himself and Sam Shepard among them. Here, many hands make heavy weather of this countercultural muddle, but it is notable in being a strange film for a major studio to release, and it does look nice.
Was Antonioni trying to show he was in touch with the kids of the day? The generation gap is played up, with all the young people shown as free spirited and the older people depicted as out of touch and slaves to a consumer society, indicated by the weird commercial film the land developer businessmen watch.
As opposed to the freedom of the desert, life in the city is a mixture of huge billboards and police brutality for Mark. We're never very sure if he actually has shot the cop, but his radical views are obvious, as he walks out of a student meeting because the revolution isn't moving fast enough for him. He also gives his name as Karl Marx when he's arrested for a minor offence early in the film.
Unfortunately Frechette is a very poor actor, conveying none of the fervour of a political millitant. Halprin isn't much better, even after she has a consciousness-raising shag out in the desert. But Alfio Contini's photography is excellent, and the Zabriskie Point's most famous sequence, the explosive ending played out to the music of Pink Floyd, is a truly great representation of what Daria would like to see happen to the establishment.
However, in these cynical times, you just can't help get the feeling that Frechette, rather than businessman Rod Taylor, would be one of those first up against the wall when the revolution comes. "Blow up my TV, would you?!" See if you can spot Harrison Ford.
Although he divided audiences into those who found his mysterious works pretentious or fascinatingly enigmatic, this celebrated Italian writer and director was always interesting and stylish. L'Avventura in 1960 was his international breakthrough although he'd been directing since the forties, and he followed it with La Notte, L'Eclisse, The Red Desert, Blowup (perhaps his most famous film), Zabriskie Point (with its explosive climax), The Passenger and Identification of a Woman among others. He even continued working after serious stroke, Beyond the Clouds being his best known film from his later period.