Archive for the ‘ 1970 / Zabriskie Point ’ Category

The American Desert (August 1968)

What will your film be called? 

Zabriskie Point. It’s the name of a place in Death Valley, in the California desert.

Blow-Up represents your English experience. Will the new film deal ‘with an analogous experience in the United States? Or aren’t places important to you? 

Places are important. But Blow-Up’s story could have happened anywhere. Zabriskie Point, instead, is a film about America. America is the real protagonist of the film. The characters are just a pretext.

Don’t you think that the themes of your past films (incommunicability, solitude, anguish, alienation and so forth) find their greatest confirmation in Anglo-Saxon society? That is, don’t you think that these themes are, after all, the real themes of the most advanced form of neo capitalism? 

Yes, that’s true. These themes have a clearer, more extreme, more profound resonance here in the United States.

How does the revolt of young people (students, hippies, beatniks) fit into your usual world? I mean: until now you have shown us the middle-class grappling with its problems, but you have shown us them from within, you’ve accepted the values of the bourgeoisie itself.  Students, young people, it seems to me, deliberately place themselves outside of the system; they try, as they say nowadays, to challenge it. Does this dissent interest you? 

Yes, it interests me; in fact, I have incorporated it into the film.

In what way? 

I can’t say. I’ll limit myself to mentioning that the characters of Zabriskie Point are in a certain way typical of the present American situation. More than a psychological affinity they share an ideological affinity. Ideological affinity in turn becomes a means to communication, to mutual understanding.  Continue reading

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Let’s Talk About Zabriskie Point (August 1970)

Writing is not my business. I know that I’m not a good judge of myself or of my films. Each time I must put something down on paper about myself, the same embarrassment returns. The questions put to me are always the same: why did you make that film? What were you trying to say? I’m tempted to reply: I wanted to make a film and that’s that. But if you want to know why and how I did what I did, what prompted me to do it, what I was thinking while doing it, what I wanted to say, in other words, if you want me to summarize my reasons and explain what is almost impossible to explain (impulses, intuitions, figurative choices), you will only come to this: you will come to spoil the film itself.

I think that what a director says about himself and his work does not help to understand the latter. In my case, what little knowledge I have of myself, words can, at best, clarify a particular moment, or a state of mind, a vague awareness. The answer I prefer to the above question is that, at a certain period when a film was being prepared and shot, I saw certain people, read certain books, loved X, hated Y, had no money, did not sleep well. … But even in saying that much, perhaps I am supplying involuntary explanations.

Let’s talk instead about Zabriskie Point. Talk about it now, long before these words will see print. There are marches on Washington. American universities are in revolt, four youths have been killed on an Ohio campus and two more in Jackson. It is difficult, unfortunately, to reject the temptation of feeling like a prophet. I would prefer, however, to reflect on some of the psychological aspects of violence. I’m convinced that a policeman does not have death on his mind when he enters a university or faces a mob. He has too many things to do, too many orders to follow. The policeman is not thinking of death anymore than a hunter is thinking of the death of a bird. Astronauts, in the same way, are not afraid, not because they do not know the dangers, but because they do not have the time. If the policeman gave some thought to death he probably would not shoot.

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