ANALYSIS OF MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI'S ZABRISKIE POINT - PART FOUR

Go to Table of Contents of the analysis. Antonioni's films are rife with themes, peculiarities and incongruities which largely go unnoticed due his deft care in handling them and the abundant and rich audio and visual textures in which he immerses us, but they are also responsible for the sense of mystery that defies a traditional expectation of resolutions, infusing Antonioni's films with enigmatic mythic purpose. And myth is never hampered by logic.

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388 Cut to an aerial shot of the shadow of a plane roaring over the railroad track.

389 Medium shot of Mark in the cab of the plane with its red interior.

390 Aerial shot of train, which honks at Mark.

391 Medium shot of Mark in the plane's cab waving at the train.

392 The train honks and he waves at it.

393 Aerial shot of Daria's car on the road traveling in the opposite direction, screen right to screen left.

394 An extreme long shot of the plane flying over the desert, left to right.

The plane and its shadow intersects with her car, which we realize is stopped, passing directly over it. Her car is pointed to screen right now.

395 Medium shot from behind Daria of her before a yellow water tank.

Next we see Daria bent before a yellow water tank that reads "Water for radiators only". She refills her radiator.

396 Shot from behind Mark in the cab of the plane, the desert below.

397 The plane turning.

398 Medium shot of Daria closing the hood of the car, she looking up at the plane. She climbs back in the car.

399 Medium close-up of the car as it starts and drives off screen right.

400 Shot from behind the car, it driving toward the mountains.

401 Medium shot of Daria in the car, through the front window, mountains also behind. The plane comes up from behind and buzzes the car and she ducks.

402 Closer shot of Daria ducking in the car.


DARIA: Jesus Christ! What the hell was that? Fuck!

403 Aerial shot of Mark in the cab of the Lilly 7, looking down at the car.

404 Long shot of Daria's car traveling left to screen right. We see the plane circling back around overhead.

405 Long shot of the plane circling.

406 Long shot of Daria's car. As it exits screen right, the plane enters screen left, flying just above the highway. Again, it buzzes the car.

407 Medium shot of Daria in the car, from the front, looking after the plane.

408 Shot of the plane soaring back into the sky to circle again.

409 Medium shot from rear of Mark in the plane's cab.

410 Aerial shot of Daria's car on the highway.

411 Shot from the right side of Daria's car.

412 Aerial shot of the highway from the POV of the plane. It flies down low over the highway and this time buzzes Daria's car from the front.

413 Medium shot of Daria in the car, ducking as the plane passes overhead.

414 Shot from right of the car, highway level, then the camera zooms out to an aerial shot.

415 Shot of the plane circling for another pass.

416 Daria in the car. She sees the coming plane and ducks as it again buzzes from the front.

DARIA (laughing): Shit, what the hell was that?

Daria, fascinated and smiling, saying, stops the car and steps out on the side of the road to gaze up at the plane.

417 Long shot of Daria running into the desert to gaze up at the plane. She throws herself on the ground as the plane buzzes her again.

Considering the film's ending, with a house built by a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright's becoming ostensibly a leading character in the film, I would imagine there is an homage to Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, in which we have also a modern house so conspicuous as to be a character, on a prominence, a movie in which we also have Cary Grant being buzzed by a plane in a corn field in Iowa and having to throw himself to the ground. In that film, the plane crashes, however, and blows up. In that film, we also have two cases of identity confusion. (1) Cary Grant is mistaken for someone else and then, encouraged by the FBI, must become that other person. (2) Eva Marie Saint appears to be first a random person, then she seems to be the girlfriend of a spy, and then she is working for the FBI spying on her lover. Oh, and the bad guys pass themselves off as other people as well. Almost nobody's who they seem to be except for Cary Grant.

418 Medium shot of Daria standing.

She throws sand at the plane, irritated.

419 Mark, from the rear, in the cab of the plane.

420 Close-up shot, Daria is writing in the sand.

421 Long shot, Daria writing in the sand.

422 Daria writing in the sand.


We see a circle with perhaps spokes on the inside and then two F's. She's written apparently "Fuck off."

423 Mark from behind in the cab of the plane.

He reaches behind his seat and grasps a red shirt.

424 Mark from the side, opening the window and throwing the shirt out the plane.

425 Long shot of the shirt floating down to the ground, Daria running into the desert to get it.

426 Medium shot of Daria reaching and picking up the red shirt. She laughs as she reads it. (Member U.S. Championship Sleeping Team). She waves the red shirt at him.

427 Shot of the plane circling back around.

428 Daria's car traveling screen right to screen left, accompanied by music.

429 Daria's car passes another.

430 Daria's car from the front, a high view.

431 Daria's car from the rear.

432 Daria's car from the front.

433 Side view of Daria in the car.

Looking to the right, she sees the plane.

434 Exterior shot from out passenter's window of Daria driving. The camera pans up as the car passes out of the frame, and we see the plane in the distance, having landed in the desert.

435 Daria pulls off the highway where there are two sign boards but no ads, no lettering, no images.

436 Medium shot of Daria stopping the car, the plane beyond.

437 Daria steps from the car.


She approaches Mark, the red shirt in hand.

DARIA: Thanks for the nightie, but I don't think I can use it.

MARK: How come? Wrong color?

DARIA: Wrong sex.


438 Medium shot of Daria holding the shirt up to her chest, the car and plane beyond. The camera pans left to mark.

439 Medium close-up of Mark as Daria holds the shirt up to him.

440 Nearby is a shack out front of which is an old man with a number of paint buckets.

Curiously, in this place of no signs at all, at least no conspicuously intelligible signs other than that provided by nature, it would seem his profession is that of the sign painter.

The man picks up a green bucket in which he has been mixing paint.

441 Close-up of the man at his truck, the camera panning left to a close-up of Daria against the desert.

MARK: Which way are you headed.

442 A cut to essentially the same perspective with Daria moving toward Mark.

DARIA: Phoenix.

MARK: Phoenix? What for? There's nothing in Phoenix.


Daria only shrugs her shoulders, rather than tell him about Lee Allen.

MARK: Look, I'm having some trouble here, and since you've come along with a car and nowhere to go, you might as well give me a lift so I can get some more gas.

DARIA: How far?

MARK: I don't know. This gentleman says maybe 20 miles.

DARIA: Okay.


They walk off screen right, he following her.

443 Medium close-up of Daria and Mark reflected in the windows of the sign painter's yellow truck as they pass it.

During the opening credits, the first words heard were "Well, as far as that" as on the screen was shown a shot of Mark under the title "Zabriskie Point". That voice was not Daria's, but it connects with this, with Daria asking how far, for they will next end up at Zabriskie Point.

DARIA: The radio said someone stole a plane in LA this morning. Did you really steal that thing?

444 Close-up of Mark.

DARIA (off screen): How come?

MARK: I needed to get off the ground.


He exits screen left past her, the camera following Daria as she climbs into the car, Mark also climbing in the car.

445 Long shot of the car driving away.

446 Long shot of the sign painter's house near dead trees. We hear the car driving away.

Death Valley and Ancient Lake Beds

447 Long shot of the car in the desert traveling screen right to left.

448 Shot of the highway from behind a Zabriskie Point sign.

The car briefly stops before the sign.

449 Low view from center of highway of the car entering the road again.

450 View from out Daria's window of her laughing.


DARIA (laughing): Stop it.

The camera zooms out and we see the car is off the highway, traveling up a winding road to Zabriskie point, past two bright red portalets.

451 The car pulls into a parking lot. Mark and Daria climb out and advance to a lookout.

452 View from below the lookout of Mark jumping atop its wall. Daria reads from a sign.


DARIA: This is an area of ancient lake beds deposited five to ten million years ago.

453 Medium shot of the sign.

The sign shows a graphic of the road up which they had just driven, or perhaps it is instead a graphic of the ancient riverbed winding through the peaks.

DARIA (still eading): These beds have been tilted and pushed upward by earth forces and eroded by wind and water. They contain borates and gypsum.

The sign further reads, "The tall yellow pinnacle is Manly Beacon," but Daria doesn't read this aloud.

454 View of Daria and Mark from below the lookout.

DARIA: Borates and gypsum?

MARK: Two old prospectors who lost their way.


Daria laughs and pushes him. They sit on the wall.

455 Beautiful view of Zabriskie Point.

456 Medium shot of Daria and Mark from below.

DARIA: How do these plants make it in the sand? They're so beautiful. (To Mark.) What do you do besides fly airplanes?

MARK: Until yesterday, I drove a fork lift truck at a warehouse. Done other things.


457 Daria and Mark from behind. The car pans behind them as they speak, showing a broad range of Zabriskie Point beyond.

DARIA: Been to college?

MARK: Some.

DARIA: Why'd you leave? Grades?

MARK: Extracurricular activities.

DARIA: Like what?

MARK: Like stealing hardcover books instead of paperback, making phone calls on the chancellor's stolen credit card number, whistling in class, and bringing illegal things onto campus like a dog, a bike, and a woman.

DARIA: What's wrong with that?

MARK: We did it in the road.


Daria laughs.

MARK: Yeah, they finally kicked me out after I broke into the Dean's office and reprogrammed the computer. Put em up tight.

458 Mark leaps off the all to the ground below.

MARK: You want to know why? I made all the engineers take art courses. She's going to follow me down.

Mark says the latter as Daria move to climb down.

459 View from Mark's left side, he helping Daria down.

DARIA: So, tell me the rest of your criminal record.

MARK: Once I changed my color but it didn't work so I changed back.


This suggests the Black Panthers. But it is more than that. Antonioni plays with shifts of opposites, one to the other, white to black and black to white.

DARIA: Did you hear that the Mexican air force is bombing the grass along the border?

MARK: I wonder what else is going on in the real world. Hear any news about the strike?

DARIA: Not much.


460 Daria and Mark from Mark's left.

DARIA: I prefer music.

MARK: It's getting like they don't even report it anymore unless two or three hundred people get hurt.

DARIA: Yeah, some kind of record.


461 Medium close-up of Mark.

MARK: Or a cop.

DARIA (off screen): A cop did get killed, and some bushes were trampled. (Entering from screen left.) I was trying to find a rock station. I think they said the guy who killed the cop was white.


Daria's flippancy, seeming to equate the killing of someone with the trampling of bushes, is a little jarring. One will notice the subject of an individual having been killed by the cop never comes up, which perhaps means it wasn't bothered to be reported.

MARK: Ooo, white man taking up arms with the blacks. Just like ol' John Brown.

Daria laughs and wanders away.

462 Daria from the rear, walking into the desert.

DARIA: Want to go down by that riverbed.

464 Long shot of Mark running into the desert.

MARK: See you at the bottom!

DARIA (pursuing): Wait a minute!


460 Long shot from below of Mark jumping off the edge of a ridge and running down the steep hill to the riverbed below. He collapses and doesn't move.

465 View from below of Daria at the top of the ridge.

DARIA: Hey, hey, whatever you name is!

466 Closer shot of Daria from below.

DARIA: Hey, tough guy, are you all right?

467 Long shot of Mark lying prone. He gestures that he is.

468 As with shot 462, Daria walking away from the ridge.

469 Shot of Daria returning to her car.

470 Medium shot through the car's window of Daria opening the passenger's door and digging around for something in her bag.

471 Medium shot of Mark lying on the desert riverbed floor.


Daria comes running out from behind a hill, having followed him down on apparently a less steep grade.

DARIA: Want some smoke?

MARK: You know you're talking to a guy under discipline.

DARIA: What's that?

MARK (standing and brushing himself off): A joke, I guess. But...


472 View from behind Daria of Mark and Daria.

MARK: ...this group I was in had rules about smoking. They're on a reality trip.

DARIA: What a drag. Let's go find some shade.


They walk screen left.

473 Medium close-up of Daria smoking a joint.

474 Medium shot Mark looking screen left, watching her.


DARIA (off screen): What do you mean reality trip? Oh yeah, they can't imagine things. Were you in with that group? Why didn't you get out?

The camera pulls back to show them both.

MARK: I wasn't really in their group. I just couldn't stand their bullshit talk, it bored the hell out of me, but when it gets down to it you have to choose one side or the other.

DARIA: There's a thousand sides, not just heroes and villains.

MARK: (Unintelligible.) What's your name?

DARIA: Daria.

MARK: The point is if you don't see them as villains you can't get rid of them.


475 Daria and Mark from Daria's left.

DARIA: You think if you can get rid of them we'll have a whole new scene.

476 Close-up of Daria and Mark from the front.

MARK: Why not? Can you think of any other way we can go about it?

DARIA (rubbing his chest): Who's we? Your group?

MARK: You and me, babe.


She laughs and crouches at his feet.

DARIA: You and me!

477 Daria standing and looking away, into the distance.

The cut from shot 476 to shot 477 seemed hardly more than the removal of a couple of frames. Antonioni does that repeatedly in this film.

478 Shot of the desert, panning right to Mark entering the frame from the right.

DARIA (following): Don't you feel at home here? It's peaceful.

MARK: It's dead.

479 Mark and Daria from Mark's right.

DARIA: OK, it's dead. So, let's play a death game. You start at one end of the valley and I'll start at the other and we'll see who can kill the most.

480 Medium close-up of Daria.

DARIA: We'll start on lizards and snakes and then move up to mice and rabbits.

481 Mark from behind Daria.

DARIA: At the end, we'll count up how many deaths each of us has, and the winner will get to kill the loser. Did I make a mistake? You don't want to play that game?

482 Low shot from behind Mark.

MARK: I don't want to play any games at all.

The camera zooms in on a high ridge and shifts to out of focus.

483 Long shot of Daria and Mark walking.

MARK (pushing her hair back off her shoulder): It was nice of you to come with a guy who doesn't turn on.

DARIA: I'm pretty tolerant.

MARK: What are you doing out here? Phoenix, was that for real?

DARIA: My boss wants me there for some conference.

MARK: You are pretty tolerant.


484 Long shot of Mark and Daria walking through the hills.

485 Medium shot of Mark and Daria walking up a hill, holding hands. She stops and bends down to look at a plant.

DARIA: Pretend your thoughts are like plants.

MARK: Okay.

DARIA: What do you see, neat rows...

486 Another one of the many cuts that seems no more than removing a couple of frames, returning to the same perspective of Daria crouched over a plant.

DARIA: ...like a garden, or wild things like ferns, weeds, vines?

The camera pans up to Mark sitting on the hill.

MARK: I see sort of a jungle.

487 Daria climbs up to Mark.

DARIA: It would be nice if they could plant thoughts in our head so nobody would have bad memories. They could plant, you know, wonderful things, like a happy childhood, real groovy parents. Only good things.

488 Close-up from behind Daria of Mark beyond.

MARK: Yeah, and forget how terrible it really was.

DARIA: That's the point. Nothing's terrible.


489 Close-up of Mark.

MARK: Far out.

490 Medium shot of Mark and Daria together, continuing their walk out of frame left.

491 Long shot of Mark and Daria in the desert.


DARIA: Sometimes I feel like screaming my head off.

MARK: Well, now's your chance, go ahead, there's nobody around. Look. No man's land. Nothing.

DARIA: But someone will...

MARK: Who, a ghost, dead pioneer?


He yells and it echoes. She twirls then yells also but not as loudly.

492 Medium long shot of Daria twirling, then yelling and running.

493 Long shot Mark kicking up the sand on a hill. He turns a somersault.

494 Long shot of them running down a hill against the sun.

495 Medium shot of Daria seated on a hill.


DARIA: So anyway, so anyway...

MARK (also seated): What?

DARIA: So anyway ought to be one word and the name of a place or a river. The Soanyway River.


The camera pans left and away from them.

This conversation takes us back to Daria's meeting the supposed Johnny Wilson, which I've already discussed in Part 3 of the analysis. It's to be remembered the action is taking place in an ancient riverbed.

496 Long shot of Daria standing beside an old mine. Mark exits and shows her something.

MARK: Hey. All that's left of that poor old prospector.

DARIA: Borate?

MARK (agrees): Uh-hum.


497 Close-up of Daria licking the stone. She looks at him through it, and then kisses him.

DARIA (looking to the right): Is that gypsum?

MARK: Well, it ain't table salt.


They walk over to a vein of gypsum.

498 View from behind of Daria and Mark lying on their stomaches, resting.

MARK: Would you like to go with me?

DARIA: Where?

MARK: Where ever I'm going.

DARIA: Are you really asking?

MARK (stroking her undone hair): Is that your real answer?


499 Medium shot of Mark arranging her undone hair. He no longer wears his shirt.

500 Medium close-up of Mark saying something to her, we don't hear what.

501 Medium shot of Mark stroking her leg as she giggles.

502 Returning to shot 497 of Daria.

503 Returning to shot 498 of Mark facing her.

504 Medium shot from behind Mark of him undoing her top button.

505 Medium close-up shot of Mark from behind, he and Daria kissing.

506 Daria and Mark kissing.

507 Shot from behind Mark of them kissing.

508 Shot from behind Daria of them kissing.

509 Medium close-up of Daris lying down on Mark's chest as music enters.

510 Medium close-up of Daria and Mark embracing.

511 Shot from behind Mark of them kissing.

512 Long shot of a ridge.

513 Close-up from behind Mark of the pair embracing, she now nude, her hip recalling the shot of the ridge.

514 Again, the pair embracing. He lies back.

515 Mark lying back, Daria lies next to him, kissing him.

516 Mark's back.

517 Daria and Mark kissing.

518 Daria atop Mark.

519 Again, Daria atop Mark.

520 Again, Daria atop Mark.

521 Pan down a gulley dividing a hill to our first glimpse of another couple.


The view of them is brief and disorienting as they look very much like Mark and Daria, but we only glimpse the pair less than an instant so don't get a good look and are only able to tell that they are beige, dust covered, appear to be sleeping or even dead.

522 The camera returns to Daria and Mark resting, she atop him.

523 Two women clothed in desert hues stand in a circle with a man, holding each other's arms, forming a circle.

524 A clothed man and woman tumble down a hill, somersaulting to the bottom, kicking up clouds of dust.

525 Another clothed woman and man playing in the dust.

526 The man and woman from shot 522 playing in the dust.

527 Daria and Mark embrace, partly concealed by a hill. They sit up.

528 Couples playing in the dust in the riverbed.

529 Couple from shot 524 playing with each other. He is attired to look a good deal like Mark.

530 Another couple.

531 Nude couples, covered with sand, tumble about.

532 A nude couple kisses.

533 Two clothed couples roll about in the riverbed, covered with dust.

534 Clothed couple playing. They hesitantly kiss.

535 They roll about in the sand.

536 Another couple playing.

537 A woman plays, sticking out her tongue.

538 Another clothed couple plays.

539 Medium shot of Daria and Mark, she playfulling rolling away from him.

540 Nude couples making love in the dust.

541 Two clothed women and a man playing in the dust.

542 Continue from shot 539 of the women and man playing.

543 A pile of couples rolling and embracing, blending into the sand.

544 Long shot of couples almostly completely disappearing into the sand.

545 Close-up of Mark and Daria embracing.

546 Clothed couple playing, nuzzling each other.

547 The couple from shot 519 shown more fully, kissing.

548 Two nude men and a woman embracing in the sand.

549 A man and woman kissing.

550 Daria and Mark in close-up, facing each other then kissing.

551 Long shot of clothed couple embracing in the sand, disappearing into it.

552 Medium shot of another clothed couple.

553 Clothed couple rolling in sand as they kiss.

554 Clothed couple sitting with each other.

555 Close-up of Daria and Mark smiling, kissing.

556 Another nude couple playing in the sand.

557 Daria and Mark.

558 Medium shot of Mark sitting up and Daria standing, tossing sand at him.

559 Medium shot of Daria again lying on Mark and kissing him.

560 Clothed women embracing in the sand.

561 Clothed couple playing in the sand.

562 Clothed couple playing in the sand.

563 Clothed couple playing in the sand.

564 Daria and Mark.

565 Return to the couple that looks like Daria and Mark, embracing, covered in sand.

566 Clothed couple kissing.

567 Clothed couple kissing.

568 Clothed couple kissing.

569 Clothed man and woman embracing on a slope.

570 A huddle of nude bodies in the riverbed, covered in dust.

571 Long shot of more of the same.

572 Daria and Mark.

573 Clothed couples embracing on the slope.

574 Daria and Mark.

575 The camera quickly pans over the landscape littered with embracing couples and zooms out.

576 Two men and a woman tussling and embracing.

577 Continue from previous shot.

578 Daria and Mark. She moving down to give head.

579 Daria and Mark. Same.

580 Two men and women engaged.

581 Daria and Mark, more of the same. Then they kiss.

582 At the end we have a final shot of a scene filled with lovers.


Much is made over the "orgy" but we only see a few breasts, a few bare "rumps", some kissing, a lot of twining of couples, some of threesomes, almost all dressed. A woman sticks out her tongue in play several times, serpent or cat like. One nude threesome gives the impression of having oral sex while Daria buries her head in Mark's crotch, again giving the impression of oral sex, then comes up for a kiss. Which is when we have the end shot of the desert hills covered with couples, most dressed, as the dust begins to rise in the rear and Daria turns her head to look as if over the scene. There isn't one instance, I believe, of simulated intercourse.

583 Return to Mark and Daria resting, Daria gazing out over the landscape, pensive.

584 The landscape swallowed in dust.

585 Close-up of Daria's head resting on Mark's chest, the dust blowing over them until it completely obscures the scene.

586 The landscape disappears in the dust.

Still shot 587, the camera pulls back to show a torrent of footprints left in the sand.

The complete blur out into this beige field of dust reminds me of the beige blur that, in the first section, intercedes between Mark standing at the fire hose and then is to be found sitting.

Zabriskie Point is a beautiful film with some iconic scenes, but it has its problems, which have really begun taking some interference toll here. This scene in some respects is attempting to offer ideas with which The Passenger more neatly begins. The invisible agent (not thriller political) which works in the background has already been brought up in the meeting at the beginning of Zabriskie Point, and is expressed also in The Passenger which begins with David Locke in the Saharan Desert seeking contact with an isolated militant group.

Being led into the far outback, supposedly to a sort of military camp, Lock asks his guide "And how many people will be there?" The guide responds he will be told when he gets there, that they will tell him everything.

And if we take a close look at the surrounding rocks we'll see they have shapes that suggest facial profiles.

Soon abandoned by this guide, once again not having met these men in the desert, a despairing Locke eventually makes it back to his motel where he discovers that a man he'd met there is dead, a David Robertson. Finding a gun in Robertson's belongings, Locke spontaneously switches identities with him. Why? For one reason, perhaps because Locke is having difficulty finding the militants and communicating with anyone around, whereas David Robertson says they readily accessibly to him as he brings things they understand. Locke, he says, deals in abstract words, where he deals in concrete things. In other words, the material realm.

Locke recollects a conversation he'd had with Robertson, which had begun with Robertson stating how beautiful the desert was, so still, kind of waiting. But Lock was unsure if it was beautiful, saying he preferred men to landscapes.

"There are men who live in the desert," Robertson replied.

Throughout that conversation we see a white mask-like face, composed of shadows in plaster, reflected in the window on the right.

The face isn't an accidental anthropomorphism, it's plainly evident when enlarged. The white face in the plaster wall is purposeful. We are reminded of the black stone faces in the desert by this white plaster face here at the edge of the desert. We are also reminded of all the townspeople who did not talk to Locke but looked past him, ever beyond him, unresponsive to him, and people with which he'd spoken who only communicated with him in sign language, no words. How they introduced these communications was through making a sign indicating they wanted a cigarette/smoke, and Locke would at least understand this gesture, two fingers gesturing to their lips, and give them one.

Which reminds, doesn't it, of Mark, who was part of a group who doesn't "smoke", which Daria interpreted as people who didn't use their imaginations, only on a reality trip.

The white plaster face reflected in the window presages Locke's "murder" at the end of the film. While Locke/Robertson is resting on his bed we see the reflection of a man enter his room and stand in the same area of that earlier reflection.

Below is an adjusted image so the man can more easily be viewed.

The camera zooms in on the window and we don't see Locke/Robertson shot by this individual, but we supposedly hear a gun shot. In the meanwhile, a woman who has been traveling with Locke/Robertson is being distracted by a white man who was with the black individual who had entered Locke's room. One can look upon this as an expression of what Cleaver states in the opening section of Zabriskie Point. "The enemy is invisible. Things happen, they don't know where, they don't know how. People do things and the people who they have their attention focused on are being nothing but distracting attention."

After Locke/Rorbertson has supposedly been shot, the "black" man who was in his room and the white man leave. We are then shown the body of Locke/Robertson, but we never see any blood, don't see the wound, the action around him communicates to us he is dead. We will have much the same story later with Mark in his death scene.

The mimes in Blow Up functioned too as representations of invisible forces, as does the theatrical group in the desert where it seems the signs that dominated over the landscape in the city, signs which became less dominant in Ballister, are finally absent here. The mimes in Blow Up helped introduce ideas of paying attention to "signs", the seeming randomness of one's environment, which the prevalent and overpowering signs in the city do in this film, so I think that by the time we reach the desert, rather than simply reveling in the absence of humanity and commercialism, we are instead intended to be sensitized to the idea of the life of the landscape, its signs, a different kind of communication, one without language, and should interpret the actions of Daria and Mark in respect of this. After all, just prior to ending up at Zabriskie Point, where do Daria and Mark meet but at kind of the last outpost of an observable billboard-type sign upon which there is finally nothing, and yet the property apparently belongs to a sign painter who befriends and helps the pair.

El Dorado

588 The heads of Daria and Mark seen at the height of a ridge. The sky is clear again, no blowing sand.

MARK: I always knew it would be like this.

DARIA: Love?

MARK: The desert.


The camera pans up to show they are dressed, relaxing on the sand.

The words are no sooner out of his mouth than a tourist family pulls up in the parking lot with their El Dorado camper pulling a boat.

589 Medium shot of a blue dodge truck/camper.

590 The truck/camper, pulling a boat, parks next to Daria's car in the parking lot.

591 The driver (man) exits the truck. Through a window covered with garish tourist stickers we view a child eating ice cream in the back seat.

592 Close up of the stickers.


California is represented by sports such as swimming and golf, Arizona represented by cactus, Colorado represented by a pin-up girl in two piece and boots with spurs. There's also a red white and blue "Discover America" sticker. The camera pans right across the boy licking ice cream to a Grand Canyon sticker and a "World Famous Bull Shipping Center" sticker representing Texas. Pan up past an Arches park sticker to one of Oklahoma, that state represented by a pin-up cowgirl in bikini bandana swimsuit and cowboy boots and hat. She holds a pistol in each hand.

593 Medium close-up of the parents walking to the edge of the lookout.

594 Long shot of the couple at the lookout, staring out over the desert.


HUSBAND: They should build a drive-in up here. They'd make a mint.

WIFE: Why don't you do it?

HUSBAND (scoffing, walking away): Me? Ah!


595 The woman from beyond the look-out.

The bright yellows the woman wears, and the camper and boat beyond, remind of the advertising for Sunnydunes.

596 The desert.

It is as if from the wife's POV. The camera panning left, we hear the loud sound of a jet's engines, and see Daria and Mark climbing out of the canyon. We hear two doors slam as the couple returns to their truck/camper. The engine starts. We hear them drive away as Mark and Daria top the ridge and walk along it, a couple seeming water tanks resting in the dunes beyond.

597 Extreme unfocused close-up of the truck/camper pulling away, revealing red portalets behind. Pan up to Mark and Daria walking the ridge above the portalets. They descend and pass behind the portalets.

598 Medium shot of Daria and Mark. He stops abruptly then runs to the men's portalet, enters and closes the door behind him, its entrance facing away from the road. Daria starts for the women's but a police car pulls up before she can enter.


She steps over to speak with the officer.

OFFICER: Having trouble?

DARIA: Oh, no. I was just going to the bathroom.

OFFICER: Where's your car?


599 Medium shot of Daria, the portalets beyond, the police officer in the foreground, his revolver in his holster occupying the left screen.

As Daria speaks, she serves as a distraction, walking so as to guide the officer's eyes away from the portalets.

This is also a replay, if one thinks about it, of Daria's confrontation with the security guard at the Sunny Dunes building. In a moment, the officer will do what amounts to a 360 degree scan of the view, which takes us in a circle (though there is a brief ellipse), and this is to be compared with the security guard at Sunny Dunes having been seated in a circular desk.

As to how the guard exits and enters the desk, I'm assuming there is a door behind him in the image below, but it is pretty well seamless, and Antonioni takes care not to show us the door being used. When we next see Tom in the film, he is already outside the desk.

Daria's back had initially been to the hall when she first approached the guard, and she was about a quarter turn around the circle to screen right. When she moved to screen left was when he swiveled looking at the monitors, and Daria followed his line of sight. Here, at Zabriskie Point, Daria will also do a quarter turn of a circle as she distracts the officer's view from the portalets.

DARIA: I left it, along with my driver's license, Bank Americard, social security number, traveler's checks, birth certificate, and...uh...

This is actually a pretty flippant reply for the time and one likely to get you in trouble. The reaction of the officer is sympathetic in contrast to what one might have likely encountered.

600 Close-up of the Officer.

Taking off his sunglasses, the officer turns and looks out over the desert. We don't see from his POV but instead from a stance next to Daria. The officer begins with looking directly behind him at the road up which he'd driven. The camera pans right as his gaze travels to his left and beyond (by the way, what is that blur in the sky, it's not an artifact on the camera lens as it doesn't move with the camera)...

Up to and past the portalets and Daria...

And here is where we have an ellipse, just as the camera leaves the portalets, the moment it shows the desert, before reaching the road that leads the rest of the way up to Zabriskie point.

We have a break in the circle (601) and return with him looking at his police car and finish with the camera returning to the police officer.

602 The police car and the road. Pan right to the officer. He smiles and shakes his head. Puts his glasses back on.

He sees nothing out there in the desert but desert, in this way Mark becoming the invisible element. Of course, we also understand this to mean that the officer has no comprehension of Daria's mindset and her views on the world.

603 We see behind the portalet Mark pulling out his gun.

604 Medium shot of Mark leveling the gun on the officer.

605 Long shot of Daria and the police officer standing on the road together. We hear the gun cock.

606 The officer returns to his car, Daria sees Mark with the gun and steps between the two, both shielding the officer from Mark and preventing Mark from being perhaps seen by the officer.

607 Shot from behind Mark, Daria seen by the police cruiser. Mark lowers his gun.

The character is so damn crazy/dumb you just want to slap him.

608 Medium close-up of the police cruiser backing up and out of frame. Daria turns and runs toward Mark who steps out from behind the men's portalet.

609 Medium close-up of Mark gazing after the police car, Daria approaching.


DARIA: Man, you're really crazy. Is it loaded?

MARK: No.


610 Long shot of Mark opening the chamber and dumping bullets on the ground. He buries them under the stones with his shoe.

DARIA: Digging for water?

MARK: I'm gonna bury it.


611 Medium shot of Mark and Daria from Mark's left.

DARIA: Why did you ask me about the strike? Were you there?

MARK: Yeah.

DARIA: The guy who killed the cop...


612 Close-up of Daria.

She starts, for the first time it occurring to her it might have been Mark.

MARK (the camera panning to him): No, I wanted to but somebody else was there.

DARIA (off screen): But they said that...

MARK (interrupts): They? Who's they?


Which seems to refer back to Lee Allen driving to the office and saying, "Who's we?" to an associate who appeared to be speaking about an article on multi-millionaires.

DARIA: On the radio.

MARK: I never got off a shot.


613 Shot of Mark and Daria from Mark's left. Daria stoops to the ground.

614 Medium shot of Daria stooped to the ground.


DARIA (gathering bullets): You'll need them. You're going to have a hard time making them believe you.

MARK: I ain't gonna try.

DARIA: Why? I believe you.


He walks off to the left and she follows.

Their conversation appears to go against what I'd postulated at the beginning of section three, due Antonioni's curious use of greenhorn/green hornet puns, that it's possible that Mark was living a dual life as an agitator/informant and that he had slid over into being the activist he only pretended to be, just as David Locke assumes the identity of David Robertson the illegal gun dealer and ends up living out his fate in The Passenger. But Mark has actually revealed very little of himself that would contradict this. He could have done most everything he's said and still be an agitator who has slid into the role of his assumed identity. Besides which, we have difficulty in the film with identifying the truth, such as with the man who told Daria he was Johnny Wilson the boxer, but he wasn't. Daria didn't know this, and probably neither did ninety-nine percent of the audience. Which is interesting and should be interesting and a point of consideration for individuals studying the film, that Antonioni didn't build into the movie the reveal that the man who said he was Johnny Wilson was not Johnny Wilson.

Are we to believe what a character says or what surrounding symbols say about the character?

Antonioni has made Mark and his dialogue and actions largely inscrutable no matter what face is put on it. He never shot his gun. The reason for which he flees in the plane is inscrutable. Even if he was nothing ever but an activist, the reason for which he draws his gun on the officer in the desert is inscrutable. The reason for which he returns the plane as he does is inscrutable. He is a morass of contradictions, saying he is a member "under discipline" of a group, never identifying what the group is, in the next sentence saying he was not really in their group as he didn't like their boring bullshit talk. We assume he's talking about the Black Panthers, as he told Daria he had once changed his color but then changed back as it didn't work out. So his speaking about the group of which he was a member is full of contradictions. Just like when he responds, "No", to Daria asking if the gun is loaded, then opens it to reveal it is and pours the bullets on the ground. Antonioni doesn't have him say, "Not now," he has him say "No" then show the gun was indeed loaded. It is then that Mark pours the bullets on the ground. Mark is certainly a conflicted, confused character, but we have no assurity of what his beliefs are about anything escept that he saw death all around him in the desert and Daria schools him on the fact that the desert is actually full of life. We have no background on him, except to know that his roommate doesn't know about his past (his family). We have no background on him, but we know he's learned somewhere how to fly a plane crazy good or else he wouldn't be able to take off on the some runway where another plane is landing, and he wouldn't be able to buzz Daria's car repeatedly and not crash and burn.

I would prefer things to be simple and not have the complication of the green horn/hornet. The "greenhorn" association is an easy one to handle. An ultimately naive youth on one level, and on another level Mark is thus identified (greenhorn coming from the idea of a young horned animal) with perhaps a young bull just as David Locke/Robertson is overtly connected with the sacrificial bull in The Passenger. Easy symbolism to handle. The green hornet association is more difficult to countenance, a person who involves himself in gangs in order to fight them, but is known to the law also as a criminal in order to strengthen his cover. Like an agitator who makes himself look like an activist and makes a show of getting himself arrested at the police station in order to demonstrate and prove his sympathy for the activists. To bolster that interpretation, we had the mural of the pigs which shows one apart standing atop the roof, apart from the rest. And when Cleaver was saying, at the activist meeting, "I mean the pigs are on the campus now", Antonioni had juxtaposed this with a shot of Mark.

There's also this. Mark has said, "It's getting like they don't even report it anymore unless two or three hundred people get hurt...Or a cop."

Perhaps prescient of when Mark is killed, and that he is actually secretly a cop gone rogue. We never hear the death of the black individual at the protest reported. But we do hear the reporting of the death of Mark.

615 Medium close-up of Daria and Mark.

DARIA: Let's go back to the car.

Mark follows her screen right.

616 Close-up of Daria.

DARIA: You can drive out of here. If you cut your hair, they'd never recognize you.

MARK (having walked into the frame): Do I need a hair cut?

DARIA (circling him and tossling his hair): No, you look beautiful.

Zabriskie Point was named after Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, who was once a mortician, than later was vice-president of the Pacific Coast Borax Company which mined borax from Death Valley.

Part of the history of Death Valley, preserved in Manly Beacon, is not only the mining but the stranding of a number of Forty-Niners there who were rescued by William L. Manly and John Rogers. Manly and Rogers were among the party, on their way to California when they became lost. Manly and Rogers trekked out on foot than returned hoping to rescue the others, which they managed to do.

I bring up the history because of the arrival of the family towing the El Dorado camper and the boat, El Dorado meaning "gilded one" and referring most frequently to a place of fabled wealth and opportunity, such as the 49ers were seeking with the gold rush. The legend was born of a tale of the chief priest of Muisca who was said to be covered with gold dust during religious festivals in which he would ride to the middle of Lake Guatavita with golden offerings and other jewels which would be dumped overboard in propitious sacrifice to the god.

If one found El Dorado one would find the source of the gold, generations of golden offerings for the taking in the lake, so it bears mention that a point has been made of Zabriskie Point's history as a lake area and that Mark and Daria have been frolicking about an ancient lake bed.

Milton wrote in "Paradise Lost":

...The Tempter set
Our second Adam, in the wilderness;
To show him all Earth's kingdoms, and their glory.
His eye might there command wherever stood
City of old or modern fame...nor could his eye not ken...
El Dorado. But to nobler sights
Michael from Adam's eyes the film removed,
Which that false fruit that promised clearer sight
Had bred; then purged with euphrasy and rue
The visual nerve, for he had much to see;
And from the well of life three drops instilled.
So deep the power of these ingredients pierced,
Even to the inmost seat of mental sight,
That Adam, now enforced to close his eyes,
Sunk down, and all his spirits became entranced;
But him the gentle Angel by the hand
Soon raised, and his attention thus recalled.
Adam, now ope thine eyes; and first behold
The effects, which thy original crime hath wrought
In some to spring from thee; who never touched
The excepted tree; nor with the snake conspired;
Nor sinned thy sin; yet from that sin derive
Corruption, to bring forth more violent deeds.

The never-land of El Dorado was shown to Milton's second Adam, in the wilderness, just prior to a deeper vision instigated by the influence of the instillation of three drops from the well of life piercing through to the inmost seat of mental sight.

Speaking of wealth, Daria means "wealth", and seems to also mean "sea". It's possible that Antonioni's selection of Daria as the girl may have partly had to do with her name.

Haides meant "invisible", referring not just a place but a deity whose name was also Pluto, "wealthy" for, though he was a death god, a god of the underworld, he ruled over the underworld riches of the earth, its minerals and the fertility of the soil. As Daria and Mark have been roaming Death Valley, all this should possibly be taken into consideration.


Continue to part five
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