Even psychological ugliness is elevated by Antonioni’s art (with its orientation on truth and the ethical impossibility to scapegoat what is a part of the reality) into monumental forms of objective historical process. Even protagonists who are not too attractive as human beings, with all their personal imperfections and moral flows signify a certain socio-political configurations which have a certain grace – what lacks in reality Antonioni adds through his aesthetics. Antonioni’s America is processes without participants. People are carried by abstract movements even when they are trying to act not typically (then they are like chaotic currents of energy in the wrong places). Antonioni’s America is mobile and nomadic but its mechanical dynamism is inert, as if, static. People permanently move in cars/trucks and planes to reinforce their relevance to the space. But if they reach the points of the “wilderness”, they mark it by the stamp of their ownership. Only Mark and Daria, youthful, sad and beautiful, are doomed to deviate from their routes because of their economic and political outsider-ship that ends up costing them too much.

In Antonioni’s America people can identify with the good and yet create evil but they can never personify good or evil (there are no personalities to carry good or evil in a sense of taking responsibility for their actions). Antonioni objectifies people’s prejudices and behavior and dissolves the human emotions into his epical vision of societal life. Good and evil co-exist, more – fused with one another inside the very system of living, the very structure of social relations. In this spliced form they found a way to avoid their identity – to live outside themselves, because then what is important is effectiveness, not goodness or evilness. When efficiency and effectiveness of the action is everything, good and evil as its components become irrelevant, lose their recognizable shapes. When effectiveness of the efforts becomes the superstar, evil becomes polished as “trying hard” entrepreneurship (Lee Allen, the boss), good as a feeling of sympathy and empathy (Daria) and human identity as being lost and wandering without direction (Mark). In this situation when good, evil and human (pre-economic) identity, are impersonalized and projected outside, civilized and democratic life is barely possible.

Daria/Mark is the universal archetype of human potential for love that is not realized because of indifference and a-moral/functional violence of the very organization of life in society and its position toward youth and love (as hopelessly outdated categories). Mark and Daria are superfluous in a system of effective socio-economic transactions where even love starts with the competence to financially provide for love. Daria is saved from becoming an efficient conformist by the highest possible cost – the death of her beloved. By watching the film we trace in detail how a country of success destroys its own Romeo and Juliette. Mark is killed by the bullets shot by the robotic cops, and Daria is doomed to make anti-consumerist “revolution” in her imagination.

Zabriskie Point | Michelangelo Antonioni (1970) PART 1/12

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Already in early seventies for Antonioni was clear the archetypal role of fire-arms for establishing and rooting of American psyche. The scene inside a gun shop in the beginning of the film serves as the film-introduction not just to American life, but to American narrative, American plot and American taste for life.

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The definition of American citizen is provided by the position he/she occupies in relation to the name of his/her bank. In this shot we see the main character (Mark), who doesn’t have a bank account. Mark’s body covers the word “America” as a part of the bank‘s name – by this visual image Antonioni shows how Mark’s status in his country is problematized not only as a respectable person, but as a citizen. By this shot we already can understand that Mark’s destiny is in danger.

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We see here the meeting of rebellious students where political passions are trying to balance itself with intellectual logic of rational self-assertion. There is no place for disinterested thinking.

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The board of the directors of a mega real estate corporation discusses business proposals, plans and dreams of the board’s boards.

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Encounter between the two main characters of the film – Mark (a person with self-dignity in spite of being in a situation of a “bum”) and Daria (a person who prefers to love than to be with a super-human boards of the board of directors) – is rather sexually-existential than erotically personalized. Viewers are encouraged to compare this couple with heroes of Bresson’s “Devil, Probably”.

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Antonioni’s macro-representation of American sexual revolution

Posted 27 Nov 2010 –   Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Zabriskie Point” (1970)* – Abandoned, Corrupted, Suspected, Misjudged and Sacrificed – American Youth in Times of Post-democracy by Acting-Out Politics