A strange and strained piece of a past era, Michelangelo Antonioni's post-Blow-Up flick (1970) features Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin, and Rod Taylor in a story about the interrelated lives of two young people and an executive. Frechette plays an activist who's "willing to die, but not of boredom." The first half features campus politics and a lot of shots of traffic and billboards. These elements, which probably account for some of the negative reviews when the film came out, now hold a certain fascination as footage of another time. The campus radicals are played by members of an experimental theatre group and (briefly) Harrison Ford. An hour in our hero, who steals a private plane after being implicated in the death of a cop during a protest rally, and our heroine, en route to see her new boss in Phoenix, Arizona, spend time getting to know each other at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley and having psychedelic sex. And then....
Some viewers will experience difficulty with the meandering and often tedious first half. The film makes some amends with its extraordinary period soundtrack, most notable for the contributions by The Pink Floyd, several interesting ideas, and strong leads.
Frechette and Halprin give impressive performances, especially for people with little acting experience. Their film careers would be short-lived. Halprin's first appearance was as herself in the hippie documentary Revolution (1968). She would make one other movie before marrying, having a child with, and divorcing Dennis Hopper. She later became a pioneering therapist and educator. Frechette joined a commune, was arrested for armed robbery, and died in an apparent weightlifting accident in prison.
There's a "Where are They Now?"
The world of Zabriskie Point, of course, has long vanished.