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http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/antonioni.htm
USA 1970

 

With time having passed and perspective having come into focus, we can now look upon the defining films of the counter cultural late 60s and early 70s and see which movies really captured the zeitgeist and spirit of this turbulent era. One look at Michelangelo Antonioni's (almost) film maudit "Zabriskie Point" should answer all the questions to an open-minded viewer.

"Zabriskie Point" has not been favorably greeted by the American press. The reasons were obvious. Antonioni has been experimenting with film form ever since he started. Throughout his entire career he has been more interested in capturing moods and conveying emotions rather than tell classically constructed narratives. It should therefore not have been a surprise that "Zabriskie Point" mostly discarded a plot and concentrated on making the viewer experience a certain time and place. We don't get to find out much about Daria and Mark, the ostensible protagonists of "Zabriskie Point", but rather follow them on a trip through consciousness and 1960s iconography. It should also be noted that Mark and Daria were the actual names of the actors who played these characters (Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin), who function more as models for concepts and ideas than characters in the traditional sense (something that they share with the people in Bresson's films or Resnais' "Last Year at Marienbad").

In retrospect it seems as if the characters of those particularly precious early 70s films, having lived through a decade of the Vietnam War and the Manson murders, were always fleeing from society into a new environment. In "Two-Lane Blacktop" and "Easy Rider" it's the road, the wide open spaces between people (but not actually among them). Similarly "Apocalypse Now", where the characters live in a collective dystopian insanity and are numb to the degree that not even carnage and bloodshed has any more effect on them, or "Performance", where James Foxx is in search of a "bohemian atmosphere". In "Zabriskie Point" it's the desert of the film's title. A place even further removed from society than the highways in road movies of the era. Antonioni knew that driving a man-made car over man-made streets is not what the disillusioned youth that lived through the 60s really needed. It's the desert as a place of eternity, having existed before they were born, that reveals itself to be the ideal new living ground for Mark and Daria. Antonioni shares with us a vision of utopia for a few minutes, showing us dozens of people passionately embracing and making love in the sands of Death Valley. That fata morgana ends and Daria and Mark are back in reality, with nowhere to go. Just like the nameless protagonists of Monte Hellman's equally mesmerizing "Two-Lane Blacktop", they go on drifting through the world. Mark returns his stolen airplane, though painted in new and provocative colors, while Daria imagines (or catalyzes) an explosion of the bourgeoisie world, similar to the original ending of "Apocalypse Now" (the appropriately apocalyptic explosion of the Kurtz compound).

"Zabriskie Point" is a film of great complexity, something that we should all expect from Antonioni. It is packed with wonders and marvels in every corner of the frame and reveals profound truths about where we were and where we're going to be that resonate much more deeply than anything we may find in "Easy Rider". Don't let the challenging and unconventional style of Antonioni throw you of balance. Just let his vision of man wash over you with its dazzling array of imagery and sound. And then see it again. And think about it.

Stan Czarnecki

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 9th, 1970

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DVD Comparison: 

Complete Media Services - Region 2 - PAL vs. Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Complete Media Services

Region 2 - PAL

Warner (France)

Region 2 - PAL

Warner (US)

Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

Runtime 1:46:56 (4% PAL speedup) 1:46:36 (4% PAL speedup) 1:53:36
Video

4:3 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.12 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.35:1 Letterboxed
Average Bitrate: 8.98 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.71 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Media Services

Bitrate: Warner (France)

Bitrate: Warner (US)

Audio English, German (Dolby Digital 2.0) English, French (Dolby Digital 1.0)

English (Dolby Digital 1.0),

DUB: French (Dolby Digital 1.0)

Subtitles None French, None English, French, Japanese, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Complete Media Services

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 (cropped)

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: April 17th, 2008
Three-tiered digipack

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio:
Warner (France)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 2.35

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: December 3rd, 2008
Keep case inside cardboard sleeve

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Warner (US)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen  anamorphic - 2.35

Edition Details:

• Trailer (1:56 in 4:3 letterboxed)

DVD Release Date:
May 26th, 2009
Keep case

Chapters 22

  

Comments:

ADDITION: Warner - US - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC: May 09': On the visual front this is great news - taken from the recent restoration - this is dual-layered, progressive and, finally, ANAMORPHIC! It looks significantly better - even beyond the 16X9 enhancement. Colors - flesh tones lose the orange-ness of the PAL editions and everything else seems more true although perhaps a little green. Generally it has a tighter feel and stronger detail. The French transfer looks boosted beside the US edition.

I've never seen this theatrically - but it again has no 'acid rock' closing - it's Roy Orbison to the sunset (sunrise?) and no end credits. Just this:

 

The audio is consistent English mono with an optional French DUB and there are subtitles available in English, French or Japanese.

No extras but a 2 minute trailer - 4:3 letterboxed.

I think after all we have gone through this has to be considered a victory with the film in NTSC running time, anamorphic and looking very true. Some extras would have been nice and I'll let the experts debate the ending. I'm certainly more, digitally, content than I have ever been for this title.

NOTE: Amazon has this as a June 30th release date, but Amazon Canada has it as May 26th (which I suspect is more accurate - I expect the former will alter soon). 

Gary Tooze

****

 

ADDITION: Warner - France - Region 2 - PAL: (written December 08'): Well, what is this? A course on how to tease Antonioni fans? Yes, This new French release is finally in the proper 2.35:1 aspect ratio - but it's non-anamorphic!?!!? The dual-layered bare bones DVD actually looks pretty good with a healthy bitrate - the colors are overly vibrant for SD (boosted?) - but why it is not 16X9 enhanced is anyone's guess. This appears to be the best version right now - but we will continue to wait for a decent DVD transfer (or Blu-ray) with some viable extras (any?) Where are you Criterion?

NOTE: This doesn't have the complete acid-rock finale - there are no ending credits (just 'the End').

NOTE two: My computer and both my region-free DVD players did not force the French subtitles when the English audio was selected.

Gary Tooze

ON THE GERMAN EDITION (written April 2008): Being one of many passionate Antonioni fans around the world, I was anticipating this German DVD release of "Zabriskie Point" very enthusiastically. Amazon.de informs us that the image is 16:9, but that's flat out misinformation. The image is actually cropped to fit an older 4:3 TV screen. What disastrous consequences this has on Antonioni's cinemascope compositions are rather obvious. The frame is cropped to such a drastic degree that we lose very important information on the left and right, which is clearly not the right way to watch this masterpiece.

The transfer itself is not ideal either. The colors are much stronger and more vivid than those of our already reviewed bootleg, but there's still a fair amount of grain inherent in the image. There's also a notable lack in sharpness and detail. So this is certainly not on par with Sony's very fine work on "The Passenger".

We have obviously been fooled by both amazon.de and Complete Media Services and the purpose of this review is to warn you. Stay away from this release, because what CMS has done here is the violation and destruction of a great and timeless work of art. Let's all continue to wait for a proper version.

 - Stan Czarnecki



DVD Menus


Complete Media Services - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL RIGHT

 

 

 

Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

 

 


Screen Captures

 

1) Gary's VHS Bootleg (reviewed HERE) TOP

2) Complete Media Services - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL THIRD

4) Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC  BOTTOM

 

 

 

 


 

1) Complete Media Services - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3)  Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC  BOTTOM

 

 


1) Complete Media Services - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3)  Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC  BOTTOM

 

 


1) Complete Media Services - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3)  Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC  BOTTOM

 

 


1) Gary's VHS Bootleg (reviewed HERE) TOP

2) Complete Media Services - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL THIRD

4) Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC  BOTTOM

 

 


1) Complete Media Services - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3)  Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC  BOTTOM

 

 


1) Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2)  Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC  BOTTOM

 


1) Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2)  Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC  BOTTOM

 


1) Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2)  Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC  BOTTOM

 


1) Warner (France) - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2)  Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC  BOTTOM

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Complete Media Services

Region 2 - PAL

Warner (France)

Region 2 - PAL

Warner (US)

Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC


Michelangelo Antonioni films on DVD (NTSC) - CLICK COVERS or REVIEW BUTTON for more information


Recommended Books for Michelangelo Antonioni reading (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)




 

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Gary Tooze

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