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.
Mark and Daria paint the plane with the sign painter who lives in Death Valley.
617 Long shot of Daria and Mark and the sign painter painting the plane.
MARK: They might not even think it's a plane but a strange, prehistoric bird spotted over the Mojave Desert with its genitals out.
We see on top of the plane breasts with 8 points surrounding the aureoles of the nipples, which suggests they may not be necessarily seen as only breasts, though this is the stand-out association. We also see the number one contained in a circle or zero, within a box,which returns us to the briefly viewed "one" on the side of the moving van in the guns buying scene. The "one" there represented a road number, such as a highway, as illustrated by the black parallelogram surrounding. #1 would also suggest being number one, for purposes of the ad. Here, instead, the one is going to suggest unity of opposites, male and female, black and white, but bound within the zero.
DARIA: You are just crazy enough to take this thing back to LA.
618 Medium shot of Mark from the left side of the plane, showing a painting of a flaming match. The match can also refer, in the spirit of unity, to the idea of "match" as joining one to another, but another definition is to be in conflict (as in a boxing match), the core of both definitions being the sense of equality.
MARK: You don't just borrow a private plane for a joyride and never come back to express your thanks.
Mark walks left out of the frame as Daria enters.
The screen left side of the plane, upon which Daria had been working, shows an igniting match on the tail. The plane's number has been used as a base and altered to convey a message, N6835R transformed into the phrase, "No war".
619 Medium shot of Mark "Thankx" painting on a window, the sign painter working on the nose.
SIGN PAINTER: It's nice to see a young man who shows some respect.
620 Close-up of THANKX.
621 View from the front of the plane.
The nose has been painted to have a mouth witha tongue hanging out. We see a penis on the side of the plane upon which Mark had been working. Lilly 7 has been transformed into Lilly Freecome. The tail of the plane shows a dollar sign and the words "Suck bucks". The plane's number has been transformed to read "No words."
No words follows up on what has been previously discussed about Antonioni's use of signs in this film where there are images joined with words and then "blow-ups" of only the images without the words. I wrote of this at length in sections three and four.
MARK (congratulating the sign painter on his work): That's a great thing, man.
SIGN PAINTER: Sure is.
622 Daria from the right, standing by the tail of the plane.
DARIA: Do you really think you have a chance?"
Daria walks forward and as she does so we see a marijuana symbol painted on the passenger rear window and foliage painted on the front window.
Then we view the seating of the plane.
The seating of the plane, from this angle, reminds of the sign showing the passenger seats outside the airport which we'd observed just after Mark had left the market and before getting the idea to steal the plane. Here, the seats themselves become individuals. The headrests becoming heads attached to bodies/torsos.
Mark says something about setting it down on the runway and having enough time to make it into the fields.
MARK: From there I've got it made. I'll be back in time before they know what's happened.
623 Medium shot of Daria and Mark from the front of the plane.
DARIA: But why take it back? You could just ditch it here and ride with me to Phoenix.
624 Medium close-up shot of Mark from behind Daria.
DARI: You don't even have to take the risk of...
MARK: I wanna take risks.
625 View from across the top of the plane of Mark and Daria.
MARK: Isn't she beautiful?
She advances and caresses his face.
626 Another view the side of the plane Daria had been painting.
We see that Daria's side of the plane shows a bomb bearing the words "She, he, it". Grass is painted all around. So, on the plane we have female breasts, a phallus and a dollar sign (along with the words "Suck Bucks") which actually is much like the caduceus of Mercury, and there is one theory that it may have developed from that, Hermes being the god of not only tricksters, messengers (a psychopomp, guide of the dead) and thieves, but also bankers. Hermes is also the source of the word hermaphrodite in his united form with Aphrodite, Hermaphrodite being their child, which we see in the plane which one supposes represents the balanced masculine and feminine principles. Which takes us back then to the children near the RR crossing who had attacked Daria, and the curious up and down gesture made by one of the boys. That gesture is also a magical one representing "as above, so below", again balanced properties, and also solve et coagula by which base materials are transmuted into gold via separation and being brought together, reduction to the prima materia, the stage of blackness and chaos followed by whitening, or the albedo, and unification.
It's to represent this solve et coagula, and "as above, so below" that I think we had at the college the first sighting of a broken window in a lower pane and then in an upper pane, which I noticed but wouldn't have thought anything about unless there had been, at Ballister, the breaking of the upper pane of the door's window, which thereafter was shown as the bottom pane having been shattered. And who had broken the pane but the children, one of whom leads the others making the sign of "as above, so below" before rushing upon Daria. This occurring at a place with signs of Olympia (the ethereal home of the gods) but which seems intended to represent a sort of living hell.
Of course, how much of this is symbolized on the plane can be disputed, but certainly we have the unity of opposites. SHE, HE, IT, is enclosed in a missile or bomb, on the same side is the match, so there's an explosive connotation, the "blow-up" again.
We can't ignore the airplane as a giant bird. During the activist meeting, the question had been brought up as to whether a Ford Falcon would be an appropriate blockade if tipped over. The eagle was referred to in the Pink Floyd "Crumbling Land" song. "On high, the eagle spies the glitter of a gun, Then wheeling in a climbing turn he flies into the sun."
I'll return a moment to the idea of the breasts, guns also being a slang term for them, an interpretation that can also fit with the plane, the "big guns" on its wings, given the presence of the missile/bomb.
Let us not forget that Daria is on her way to Phoenix, a fabled bird of rebirth that self-immolates and rises from the ashes, and this section opened with Mark speaking of the plane as a giant prehistoric bird.
Another mythical bird is the buraq (equated with the Merkabah), which served as the steed of Abraham, and of Muhammad, carrying Muhammad to the various heavens. Buraq, in this instance means lightning, but the beast or steed is always white, so there seems perhaps a connection with the arabaic buraq, meaning white, which also means the element boron, contained in borates. When Mark and Daria arrived at Zabriskie Point, she read the sign aloud which described the riverbeds as containing borates and gypsum. Later, Mark and Daria exploring, he had brought a piece of borate out of a mine, referring to it as being all that was left of the old prospector, borate. Prospector comes from the word prospect, the idea of looking into the distance, a distant view. The idea of "seeing" in connection with the borate was demonstrated by Daria when she took the slice of borate and licked it the dust off it, making it more transparent, then holding it to her eye and looking at Mark through it.
619 Mark is in the cab of the plane, Daria standing on the pilot's side smiling at him.
620 The cone of the plane.
The cone of the plane, done by the elder man, has been painted to remind of the black panthers, for it is a version of a panther, but with the pink eyes and mouth it also reminds of Mark's statement that he had changed colors once but had changed back. The several instances of the sticking out of the tongues during the orgy scene seems also to be found here. The teeth are oddly crooked enough that they could be taken as recalling flames.
Walter Fridrich Otto writes on the relationship of the panther to Dionysus (who is pictured as writing the mythical panther), "Of all the cats devoted to Dionysus, it was not only the most graceful and fascinating but also the most savage and bloodthirsty. The lighting-fast agility and perfect elegance of its movements, whose purpose is murder, exhibit the same union of beauty and fatal danger found in the mand women who accompany DIonysus..." He then describes the paradoxical nature of Dionysus. "He, the nurterur and the god of rapture; he the god who is forever praised as the giver of wine which removes all sorrow and care; he, the deliverer and healer, "the delight of morals", "the god of many joys"...the dancer and ecstatic lover, the bestower of riches, the benefactor--this god who is the most delightful of all the gods is at the same time the most frightful. No single Grek god even approaches Dionysus in the horror of his epithets, which bear witness to a savagery that is absolutey without mercy. In fact, one must evoke the memory of the monstrous horror of eternal darkness to find anything at all comparable. He is called the "render of men", "the eater of raw flesh", "who delights in the sword and bloodshed"...Where does this put us? Surely there can be no further doubt that this puts us into death's sphere."
In christianity, the panther was equated with Christ in it being the panther skin, bequeathed to humanity by the dead panther, brought with it gifts of holy inspiration. Priests of Dionysus wore panther skins, as did the Egyptian Pepi enter heaven in the panther skin.
What was here for Antonioni and intended by him is the question. He does refer to Dionysus in Blow-up, and we have Mark becoming a kind of Dionysus figure as he rides the panther/bird back to LA, also being the white and black panther himself.
The propeller starts up.
629 Long shot from in front of the plane of Daria waving goodbye as Mark begins to taxi away toward the camera then takes off.
630 Medium close-up of Daria smiling, her eyes following him in the sky.
631 The plane heading off toward the mountains.
632 Shot now of three mechanics with a petrol hose standing before a red and white plane at the Bates Aviation field.
so, again, we think of the small sign at Ballister with the three firemen carrying the fire hose and other variations on the theme of the hose.
A plane takes off. The camera pans to the right following, and stops on a police officer with a man dressed in a blue striped sweater.
OFFICER: Did you use the plane very often, sir?
MAN IN BLUE: Yes.
OFFICER: Was it insured for liability and theft?
MAN IN BLUE: Of course it was. It's a small plane but they don't come very cheap, I can tell you that much. My wife was in love with that thing. I actually had it painted her favorite color, pink.
633 Cut to Mark flying the not-quite-pink plane any longer.
634 Then back to the air field and the KRLA 1110 NEWS station wagon. A reporter speaks with a mechanic.
REPORTER: So you actually talked with the kid.
635 Closer view of the reporter and the mechanic.
MECHANIC: Yeah, I talked with him.
REPORTER: What did he say?
MECHANIC: Well he asked me if (unintelligible) could go for a ride. He acted like it was his plane.
REPORTER: You believed him.
MECHANIC (after a moment's thought): No.
REPORTER: Then why did you let him go?
636 A shot now of Daria driving, listening to the mechanic on the news.
REPORTER: Then why did you let him go?
MECHANIC: Well, I don't know.
REPORTER: Do you remember what was wearing.
MECHANIC: Yep. He had on a shirt and dark hair.
REPORTER: About how old would you say he was?
MECHANICE: Oh, about 30, I guess. Or maybe younger, 20, 21.
Daria laughs and switches to a station with music. "You Got the Silver" by the Rolling Stones plays.
637 Long shot of Daria's car from the rear, on the interstate. The camera zooms in on it and out.
638 Shot from exterior the driver's side, Daria at the wheel.
Tell me honey, what do I do,
when I'm hungry, thirsty too...
Daria takes out an apple and eats it.
639 Shot of the plane flying low over the desert, its shadow observed on the desert floor.
640 Long shot of Daria driving screen right to left.
641 The plane over jagged low mountains. The camera zooms in on it.
642 The dashboard of Daria's car.
She switches to another radio station that is advertising a rodeo with lots of horses, "dusty fun". And cotton candy. She cuts to more music. "Oh, I wish I was a single girl again."
643 Shot of car from the front. She passes a pack of free running horses, back on a highway rather than the interstate.
644 Same perspective, as with other shots of this type, the cut seeming just a stutter in time, moving briefly forward.
645 The plane from above.
646 A shot from in front of the plane and then passing over it.
647 Bates Field again. A yellow barrel painted with red lettering, "No oil, please". A police officer is walking over to a patrol car.
648 Long shot of the officer approaching the car, a plane passing right to left in the foreground.
649 The officer speaks with another one in the car. They turn to look at an incoming plane.
650 From behind the car as the officers look at the plane. The officer climbs in the car.
651 We're shown a line of patrol cars next to the KRLA wagon.
652 Two photographers stand with a man before a large Marlboro mural showing a man on a bucking bronco. To the left is the large ad of the money floating in the air. Between is a painted sign showing a Continental airplane. One of them is saying the kid has to be out of his head.
653 Shot of the plane above clouds.
654 Daria driving screen left to right. She listens to the news.
655 Long shot of control tower.
656 Medium shot of air controller in the control tower reporting that the Lilly 7 has just been spotted coming in for a landing from the south.
657 Long shot of the control tower, a man in the foreground. We see in the background the United to New York sign showing the statue of liberty. The man says, "Roger", and races to a car.
658 Long shot of the photographers running.
659 A police car starts as an officer climbs in. Pan over to several more officers climbing in other cars.
The police and reporters ready themselves, staring at the sky. A man on the ground is radioed that he should "see this thing, you wouldn't believe it."
MAN ON GROUND: What's wrong with it?
MAN ON RADIO: Nothing's wrong. It just has all those funny jokes painted all over it.
660 A helicopter.
661 Closer shot of the KRLA helicopter.
662 The plane flying under cloud cover.
663 The flashing lights of an officer's car. The officer stares impassively at the sky.
664 Another officer in a car, this one with a rifle. Pan left to yet another officer in a car.
665 Cut to another officer in a car with a rifle. Pan left to three men seated in a car, watching.
666 The plane.
667 The air field again. A detective's car edges slowly forward.
668 An officer's car pulls into view.
669 The plane in the sky.
670 View from inside the plane of the green grass painted on the windshield. The city below. The air field comes into view.
671 The plane.
672 The plane flying in over the city.
673 The police presence moves forward in their cars.
674 The plane coming in for a landing.
675 Shot of the reporters and photographers with the police cars in the background.
676 The police cars roar onto the field with sirens blaring.
677 Medium shot of Mark through the windshield of the plane.
678 The plane on the landing strip, a police car pulling up on its left.
679 Medium shot of Mark through the windshield of the plane.
680 The plane and cop car from the front.
681 Medium shot of a police officer leaning out the passenger window of the car and trying to level a gun on the plane.
682 View from above of the plane facing three police cars. The plane turns around. We hear two gun shots.
683 The officer shooting at the plane which comes to a stop in front of the camera.
684 The plane from above, resting on the grass. Silence.
685 A closer shot of the plane from above, the camera circling around it.
686 Police get out of a car with arms drawn and crouch using their car as protection.
687 Police get out with arms drawn to approach the plane.
688 Two officers, one white and one black, approach the plane, walking in unison.
This is important as we have now a black man and a white man who move as one individual in they synchronization.
689 Two officers come out from behind their car to approach the plane.
690 Two white officers approach the plane, including the officer who fired on it. They holster their arms.
691 The passenger's side of the cab of the plane.
We see on the passenger's rear window the painting of the marijuana. In the passenger's window is a reflection of a police car and to officers. Up front, rather than seeing Mark slumped over the wheel of the plane, we see an officer staring in the pilot's window on the other side. Two other officers approach on that side and stare in. We hear car doors and officers and several detectives approach from the passenger's side to stare in. There are no bulletholes observed, but the plane was shot at from the opposite side.
692 Medium close-up of officers on the passenger's side. They try the door but are unable to open it.
693 Officers on the pilot's side try the door but can't get in. We see Mark slumped over the wheel, but don't see his face. One of the officers says to call an ambulance. Another says to get a tire iron.
There are no bullet holes in the windows or the doors that we can see. None at all. But the camera has passed over the word "hole" on the plane's wing, next to a hole that is a mechanical part of the wing, our attention drawn to this as if to call our attention to the lack of bulletholes.
In The Passenger we had the same situation at the end where we were denied seeing David Locke/Robertson shot, and when we afterward view his dead body, we do not see his face, we don't see blood, we see no carnage, there is no blood anywhere around him though he's been supposedly shot. In Blow-Up for a long while there has been a killing. The photographer didn't witness the murder, but believes he sees a body in a photo, and blows the negative up more and more in order to examine it. Eventually he goes to the park where he finds a pale body, dead. The audience, however, sees no evidence the victim has been shot and when the photographer returns the next day the body is gone. Despite the fact we were shown a body, we ultimately are no clearer on whether or not a murder occurred.
As they pull in on the windshield, some of the leafy greenery painted on the windshield gives the appearance of being real leaves also within the plane, mixed in with the painted greenery, but this is probably a matter of shadows falling on the dashboard from the paint. I am returned, however, to the scene of the demonstration on the sidewalk and the man who held a branch beside his face, covering it, and the blind man with the cane who looked in the direction of the truck. Just as the man's face was intentionally obscured with the branch, we don't see Mark's face, in this plane which is painted with greenery. The branch is probably intended to recall the painting of the marijuana leaf symbol on the side, and the plane itself is painted to appear as though covered with greenery. The blind man? As I wrote in section two, I think he's intended to be based on the idea of Blind Joe Death, John Fahey's alter ego. For what have we next played on the radio, after the announcement of Mark's death (his name not given), but Fahey's "Dance of Death". It is from Fahey's first album on which he introduced the Blind Joe Death figure, having his name on one side of the album and the name of Blind Joe Death on the alternate side. The legend was floated that Blind Joe Death was a Blues man from which Fahey learned his art, but was later revealed to be fictitous.
In Blow-up, as the film opens, the photographer leaves a poor house where he has been taking undercover photography, masquerading as one of the homeless (again, dual identity). As he reaches a lonesome stretch of street he passes one lone sparse tree, and as he passe the tree another man in a gray suit also passes by in the opposite direction. My thoughts on that had been that the man in the gray suit presaged the individual in the suit who was killed beside a lone tree in the park. The marijuana leaf isn't of much significance itself; for Antonioni's purposes it is the formula of the peculiarly conspicuous foliage which is associated with death.
694 The KRLA reporter at his station wagon on the radio. The KRLA helicopter lands between the camera and he station wagon.
695 Saguaro cactus against the sky.
NEWS REPORT: An apparent hijacking attempt has ended with one youth dead after repeated attempts by police to block the plane without success. Several shots were fired into the cockpit, by an unidentified police officer, killing the youth immediately. Stay turned for full details as they are received at news central. We return you now to John Fahey.
The camera pans down the cactus to show Daria's car parked in saguaro cactus desert, mountains beyond, she standing outside the car.
The station moves on to a song by John Fahey, "Dance of Death".
696 Shot from the front of the car with Dara standing beside the car.
697 Medium shot from behind as Daria sways slowly back and forth to the music.
698 Close-up of Daria from the front. Suddenly she rushes to her car and starts it.
699 Medium shot of Daria from outside the driver's window, she staring left down the road. Finally she pulls onto the road, going right.
700 Long shot of the car driving through the desert.
We're on the last leg of our journey and I'm going to try to start wrapping up ideas in this section as we compare it with the others.
Daria is in Phoenix. Despite Death Valley and Zabriskie Point being about 9 hours away, Daria, who would have left Death Valley in late afternoon, is in Phoenix before sunset which is a physical impossibility. I don't think this is an error on Antonioni's part, instead I think it says something of the nature of the story and its characters, that we can't approach this film, ultimately, as a reality-based "my spring break romance" film, and Antonioni has left us what would seem a large and glaring "continuity error" to inform us of that fact.
Recollect that she had left LA for Phoenix and was taking a little sidetrip to find Danville or Danhill, or "something like that", but ends up in the "ghost town" of Ballister. When we first see her on the road it is before she comes to Ballister and she is looking at a map of Arizona, examining the area above Phoenix. That is the only time Antonioni gives as any indication geographically as to where she either might be or where she expects to be the town for which she's looking. In the practical, real world she would have ridden in on Interstate 10, and, indeed, her examination of the map has her looking near Interstate 10, above Phoenix, for the town where she expects to find her friend, James Patterson. Unable to locate it, she tosses the map in the back seat.
At that spot, we are given no other geographical clue to where she might be. The billboard reads Desert Springs, not giving us a state, but there is no Desert Springs. There is no Ballister anywhere. Antonio has crafted it so that not only is Daria confused as to where she might be, but the viewer, before she reaches Zabriskie Point, has no idea where she could possibly be, other than the fact she is in the desert.
The wasteland--at least by definition.
At any rate, she would have taken 10 to Phoenix, and Antonioni shows us her looking at the area above Phoenix on the map, and yet she ends up 9 hours north in Death Valley at Zabriskie Point. She spends the afternoon with Mark, even fully painting a plane, which would have taken some time. Then she's in Phoenix before sunset. That's an impossibility and a logical problem that could have been avoided. It wasn't, however, because we need to look at this "trip" in other lights rather than a literal storytelling one.
There was also this confusion of space/time in Blow-up. The model, Verushka, posing for Hemmings, had said she had a plane to catch at 11 for Paris. That night, after the harrying proceedings of the day, the blow-ups of the photographs, the discovery of the body in the park, his studio ransacked, the Dionysian revelry of the rock concert, Hemmings ends up at a party in London where he sees Verushka. He says to her he thought she was supposed to be in Paris, to which she replies, "I am in Paris." Frustrated with his whole ordeal, when he's asked what he saw in the park, he replies, "Nothing".
Mark had stressed to Daria that there was "nothing" in Phoenix.
Antonioni comments on his playing with time during a scene betweeen Jane and Thomas (David Hemmings) where she's pursued him to his studio, wanting the photos. Thomas has put on music and lights a cigarette which they treat as a joint, but it's not, it's a cigarette, and Antonioni later shows hand-rolled joints at a party. Yet they treat this as a mood-altering, time altering substance. Thomas instructs the woman to go slowly, against the beat. Antonioni plays with time in that section with numerous interruptions and switches of pace and dialogue (the concentration on sporadic dialogue between two individuals is much like when Mark and Daria are at Zabriskie Point) so that when we reach the end of the section we are both miles away from where we began and yet also at the same place, Thomas immediately going to his dark room to process the film. One could also look upon the section at the nightclub as another event in which time is altered, for throughout most of the time Thomas is there the audience scarcely moves, impassive, frozen still. As he wanders through the club, looking for Jane, only several people are moving. One man, who resembles him and is dressed like Thomas, raises a cigarette and takes a drag off it as Thomas passes, and nearby a man and a woman are dancing to the music, the only couple to do so, and the woman in particular seems out of sync. So we are returned to the time-altering section back at the studio between Thomas and Jane. Only when Jeff Beck breaks his guitar and throws the neck into the audience is the spell broken.
701 We view Daria driving out of a desert road...
702 ...and up the winding driveway, through massive boulders, to Lee's desert estate.
First, this winding drive reminds somewhat of the winding drive that leads up to Zabriskie Point. An emphasis was placed on that road with Antonioni focusing on it at Zabriskie Point, and also a graphic that looked like the road, but could have been instead the riverbed.
The house is Boulder Reign which sits on Balanced Rock across from the Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa at Black Mountain in Carefree, Arizona outside of Scottsdale/Phoenix. It was designed by Hiram Hudson Benedict, for a man named Hovgaard. Paolo Soleri, an Italian architect and one time student of Frank Lloyd Wright, designed lamps for the house. Windchimes he designed and manufactured, made of earth from the area, are also featured. Benedict, too, is given as a protégé of Wright, but I've seen that this is unverified.
Paolo Soleri was an architect with revolutionary ideas about urban planning, who built a place in the Arizona desert for prototypical experimentation.
From the Arcosanti website:
Through his work as an architect, urban designer, artist, craftsman, and philosopher, Paolo Soleri has been exploring the countless possibilities of human aspiration. One outstanding endeavor is Arcosanti, an urban laboratory, constructed in the Arizona high desert. It attempts to test and demonstrate an alternative human habitat which is greatly needed in this increasingly perplexing world. This project also exemplifies his steadfast devotion to creating an experiential space to "prototype" an environment in harmony with man.
In his philosophy "arcology" (architecture + ecology), Soleri formulated a path that may aid us on our evolutionary journey toward a state of aesthetic, equity, and compassion. For more than a half century, his work, marked by a broad-ranging and coherent intellect (so scarce in the age of specialization), has influenced many in search of a new paradigm for our built environment.
As Lee's occupation is concerned with land development, though in a way that manhandles the environment and turns it into an oasis that drains resources and alters the identity of the countryside, it's interesting to me that Antonioni has chosen this place which has an association with Paolo Soleri who was experimenting with environments that worked in harmony with man and nature.
Lee's house among the rocks in the desert ends up being representative, for the viewer, of American greed, consumption, and land development, yet Antonioni takes us to this place which is built with a certain Frank Lloyd Wright sensability that is concerned with working with the terrain rather than estranging it, such as making the boulders a significant part of the house's design. Plus, he gave the nod to Soleri, and presumably his design principles, by featuring his windchimes. This house has its counterpart in The Passenger with Antoni Gaudi's Casa Mila, where David Locke/ Robertson asks a young woman to help him elude people who are seeking him. Antonioni took advantage of Gaudi's surreal organic architecture to recall scenes from the film's opening location, the Sahara desert.
We can see in the house the influence of Hitchcock's North by Northwest, and understand that there is likely reference to that film. We've other references as well, such as we have the Cary Grant attacked in the cornfield scene in Daria's being buzzed by Mark in the airplane.
In North by Northwest we had the Wright-influenced house built over Mount Rushmore but occupried by unconestably evil spies, the Cold War threatening not only U.S. democracy but the ordinary civilian, this being played out with the battle on the faces of the presidents, the American civilian the victor due the unfailing power of love (though we are also reassured throughout that the F.B.I. had no problem with the everyday civilian losing their life for the ultimate good of their country, and thus, as far as the life of the ordinary civilian, was really not much more empathetic toward it). Antonioni's interest in the scene upon Mount Rushmore, into the rock of which are blasted the images of presidents, needs to be looked at in respect of The Passenger in which Antonioni partly phrases the film in what appears to be the point of view of all matter as living rather than inert, humans as an extension of this, nature operating through man and at the same time man impressing himself upon nature. Shall I return to what I have written on this in Section Four in respect of the desert "orgy"?
In The Passenger, Locke asks his guide, "And how many people will be there?" We already, via parodeilia, see the men in the desert within the rocks.
This is confirmed with the reminiscence of the conversation Locke had with Robertson, during which Robertson informs Locke, "There are men who live in the desert," and we see, via intentional parodeilia, a face refelcted in the window.
The intention of this face is confirmed at the film's end when we see the reflection of the supposed killer's face in the window.
When Lock expresses his frustration in reaching these people of the desert, Robertson says it's because he approaches them with words, whereas they readily comprehend what he brings them, which is concrete.
There are other examples, such as with Casa Mila's organic architecture recalling not only scenes from the desert but the people of the desert, those swathed in white garments easily imagined in the chimneys of the building.
How this is most conspicuously translated into Zabriskie Point is with the multiplication of bodies covering the desert, which then disappear into the dust, leaving only footprints.
I would imagine, then, that Antonioni was very interested in the faces carved upon Mount Rushmore. We've a hint of this observed in, perhaps, the billboard of the six investment counselors seen beyond the security desk at Sunny Dunes, each one of them being in the style of those large, cleft in rock visages. We will return to this idea later.
When I write, "Antonioni partly phrases the film in what appears to be the point of view of all matter as living rather than inert, humans as an extension of this, nature operating through man and at the same time man impressing himself upon nature," I'm not saying that's all that's involved. Dependent on the situation, there will be other things going on.
703 Medium shot of Daris from the passenger's side of the car, the house appearing beyond.
704 Daria parks beyond two other cars parked at the house.
Back to North by Northwest. In it we had Cary Grant playing Roger Thornhill who has been mistaken for a George Kaplan by spies who want to kill him. On the run, Thornhill meets Eve who he thinks is a random stranger. She makes love to him and hides him from the authorities, but then she sends him to a tryst in the flatlands with a plane that tries to kill him. She's a bad guy. No, wait, she's only the bad guy's girlfriend, and then the FBI told her he was a bad guy and she was recruited to be an informant by the F. B. I., and thus is a good guy but appears to be a bad guy. Thornhill, too, ends up being recruited by the FBI so he's no longer just acting as a civilian.
Antonioni also likes playing with role reversals, black becoming white and vice versa. Dualities. Another expression of this is individuals taking on new personas, such as in The Passenger when David Locke takes on the identity of of the deceased David Robertson and falsifies his own death. In this way, a reporter finds himself a dealer of illegal arms.
I postulated earlier that due a peculiar (whacky) visual pun concerning "green horn" and "green hornet", we may have a character in Zabriskie Point living an assumed identity, just as found in The Passenger, just as found in North by Northwest. First, we have the camera zooming in on a green neon light when Mark visits the first gun store, then inside we view, amongst the guns, a horn. Antonioni shifts from one arms store to the second so inconspicuously that the viewer is likely to think Mark is leaving the same store as the first. The next example is when Lee is calling Daria on the phone at his office. Though he's in a penthouse we hear a car horn loudly, in contrast to no car horns being sounded when Mark was in his near accident at Sunset Boulevard and the sign for Benedict Canyon being closed. This sounds weak but because of the statuette of the buck beside the green cactus I was thinking this was green horn again. The strongest of the associations is during the strike, when we see a green graphic of Bruce Lee as Kato in the Green Hornet television series, in which we had the Green Hornet on the law books as a criminal, but is passing himself off as a criminal in order to infiltrate gangs. This is followed by, after the shooting of the officer, Mark seen through a green filter as he flees on a bus to Hawthorne, the "thorn" contained within Hawthorne. In earlier sections I've already considered at length how it might be possible that Mark was an agitator in the guise of an activist, who actually became an activist, giving it consideration because we had David Locke in The Passenger becoming David Robertson, and because we have so many alternate identities and role reversals in North by Northwest.
Speaking of the peculiar scene at Sunset Boulevard and the sign for Benedict Canyon (and its closing), we are now here at this amazing house designed by Henry Hudson Benedict. An association somehow? I wouldn't be surprised. And we have the Big End with Daria driving off into the sunset, right? Mark's almost accident had involved several cars, none of which had honked. A woman waved wildly at him from one, and he said it was a person from his long gone past, then added it was his sister. Do we have something as silly here as a referrel to Benedict Arnold, yet someone else who changed sides, plotting against American Forces while commander at West Point, then when he was found out fled to the British. His name is now associated with betrayal.
705 Long shot of Daria having exited the car. She approaches the walkway that leads to the luxurious house.
706 Daria on a walk that leads through succulents, the desert beyond. We hear wind chimes as she walks toward the house. She hears the sound of water lapping and sees an entrance on her right to the pool area.
707 Steps that lead up to a pool through walls of boulders and stone.
708 Close-up of a woman's tan legs in the pool water. The woman, in a bikini, pulls her legs out of the water and stands, another woman asking, "What was it like anyway?"
709 Long shot of three women beside the pool, one resting on a lounger. One woman hands another a towel.
710 A hose in the pool.
The source of the splashing Daria had heard is a loose hose flipping aimlessly about in the pool.
711 View of the hose and the three women beyond on the other side of the pool.
A phone rings and one of the women answers.
712 Long shot of Daria coming up the steps into the pool area.
We hear one of the women, getting off the phone, stating that, "He is coming right over."
713 Medium shot of Daria from the side, walking by the pool.
714 Shot from above and behind of the women talking about how the man coming over will tell them everything that happened the other night.
Daria passes unnoticed in the background as one woman gives another a cigarette and tells her to light her own. The woman with the cigarette says, "Very interesting, you know, Nicki said she wasn't there, but I walked out by the pool..."
She wasn't there. And, for these women, Daria isn't here either. She may as well be invisible.
In a sense, we have entered the earlier commercial now with these women beside the pool.
We have here another occurrence of the hose/fire hose motif, the loose pool hose flapping wildly about. The hose had first appeared as the firehose at the activist meeting, Mark standing before it. Then in the commercial as a hose watering a private garden in the desert, and I pointed out that hose comes from a word meaning to hide, conceal, which fit in with the idea of privacy. Then the hose appeared at the Rumpus Room on a wall while Daria was talking to Lee, asking one to raise a flap if there was fire, and of course one prematurely raises the flap. The children had thrown a hose at Daria. Now, here is the hose again, its sound having attracted Daria to walk this way instead of going directly to the front door, so that she sees it and the pool, and will thus come across the waterfall in a moment. The hose, waving wildly about as it is, seems to be yelling, "If you hadn't noticed me before and how I'm used over and over again, now's the time!"
One may wonder if the pool has anything to do with the Rumpus Room in Ballister.
715 Daria leaves the patio and crosses step stones next to a small waterfall.
716 Daria looks up at the waterfall.
717 View of Daria from above, staring up at the waterfall. She begins to cry.
718 Long shot of Daria as she steps into the waterfall, soaking her head, but only one side of her dress. The wind chimes sound.
719 Daria leaning against the boulder down which the water runs.
720 Medium close-up of Daria returning to the stepstones.
721 Medium shot of Daria from the front, she wiping her face.
722 The wind chimes. Their tones reminding of the boy plucking at the piano in the desert, a replay of that.
723 Then beyond them, from Daria's POV, Lee is glimpsed through the windows of the house, and the house appears encased in rock, as if it is part of the scene, the wilderness.
One of the important things about this shot is the repetitive motif, the boulders repeating in the windows above, but below we have what appears to be a scene that doesn't involve these repetitions, but in fact they do overlay and comment upon the living room in which Lee is holding a meeting, and comment upon the movie and how there having been repeating motifs throughout the film. To the side are the wind chimes singing the desert wind, bringing to mind the mute boy in the Olympia t-shirt strumming the piano strings while beyond had lain the busted keys.
The repeating boulder functions much like the scene in Blowup when Thomas is driving to the antique store and park. We have the series of red buildings and with the several cuts of his driving through them we get a sense of deja vu, of having done this before. When he leaves the park, we have this re-expressed with his driving past a series of red buses and then by a Car Park. Various elements are expressed time and time again in the film though with permutations so they seem unconnected, context not the same, and yet are threaded together and related.
724 Medium shot of Lee inside the house.
A meeting is taking place inside. Daria has watched in silence, she unable to hear. No words. Instead of the voices of the people, she hears the voices of the wind in the chimes. Lee passes out of the frame to the right as another man stands, talking, and then an older man also rises, then the man who had ridden with Lee in the car is seen standing. Another older man steps over to speak to an American Indian servant, taking a drink from her. She sets the tray down and walks off, and as she does so we see Daria's reflection in the window, watching.
My thoughts are that Daria's reflection in the window takes advantage of the darker tone and begins to identify her with the indigenous servants in the household.
When the indigenous woman turns to leave, she pauses a moment, and it is only then that we begin to see Daria superimposed on her face, Daria having been off screen left before now. The pause is brief, and then the indigenous woman continues off screen to the left and the camera holds on Daria. This heightens the identification of Daria with the indigenous woman.
Blow-up had its fair share of these "through a glass darkly" shots, the most notable occurring after his studio has been broken into and torn apart, his photos stolen, proof of the murder the believes he accidentally witnessed gone. We see the reflection of the photographer in a glass table, as well as what serves as an arrow, transfigured now into a kind of sign which I follows and thus locates one photo that had been overlooked by the thieves.
725 We now enter the interior and the ongoing meeting.
MAN WITH WHITE HAIR AND MUSTACHE: Well, Lee, if these are your final conditions I don't see how I could possibly submit them to our associates. This proposal is just unacceptable.
LEE: Well, Jack, you know as well as I do that the price of anything is never high or low except in relation to its potential use, right?
726 Close-up of Lee's hand pointing to a board filled with stick pins. We view on the carpet below all the men's feet in expensive shoes.
LEE: Well, the only question is, is this land of value to your people or not?
727 Medium close-up of the man with the mustache.
MAN WITH WHITE HAIR AND MUSTACHE: Frankly, I don't think that it is. We don't want to get in over our heads any more than you people do.
728 Medium shot of Lee standing before a gun display case.
In the shot above, numerous guns appear to be pointed at Lee. We hear wind chimes as he nods his head.
729 Daria leaves the window and finds the front door.
730 Long shot of Daria approaching the front door.
731 Shot from interior of the house of the door opening as Daria enters.
732 Daria in the front hall of the house which has an arched ceiling.
One side of her dress is clearly soaked, making it look two-toned, one side darker than the other.
733 Daria turns screen left at the end of the hall, then stops and returns to the entry hall, staying clear of the others.
734 Lee and his associate leave the group of men they've been speaking with, passing a small cannon, one of the men behind them saying, "He talks about prospective use and speculation. We shouldn't pay any more than speculation prices."
735 Lee and his associate pass the cannon, approaching the camera.
LEE'S ASSOCIATE: What do you think, counselor, should we call their bluff?
Lee gestures to his associate for silence, finger to mouth, as they exit onto the balcony.
736 View of Lee and his associate on the balcony from far below.
A woman approaches the pair, distracting the associate.
737 Medium shot from Lee's left side on the balcony. Lee's associate goes to talk to the woman.
738 Medium shot of Daria, Lee viewed on the balcony beyond.
Lee turns and sees Daria in the room behind him. Excited, he enters and greets her.
LEE: Daria? Hey!
He takes her chin and turns her face toward him. Noticing her wet dress he laughs.
LEE: What happened to you, did you try to go swimming? (He grasps her shoulders warmly.) Anyway, you arrived. That's what's important, isn't it. Now listen. Go downstairs, change clothes, your room is the first on the right at the bottom of the stairs. Okay?
He guides her past a series of blue and white plates depicting sailing scenes (one reads July 1927). The idea of the house as a ship takes us back to the earlier emphasis on the ads of "Old Charter" bourbon, the couple on the boat with the sun going down behind them, the pilot's wheel before them, the pilot's hand on the wheel. That image, too, is now being played out. Out the window, the vast desert has become as though an ocean.
We have in this also a reframing of the tourist family pulling the boat behind their El Dorado camper, appearing at Zabriskie Point prior the arrival of the police officer. Boulder Reign begins as if a ship and Lee it's captain.
Antonioni also used a blue and white china bowl for one holding pattern-printed eggs or balls in Blowup, which is observed throughout but especially in a pivotal scene leading up to Thomas finding, after his studio has been broken into, one lone remaining photo of the murder victim.
Daria descends the stairs, looks up, Lee places a hand on a pilot's wheel from a boat which is at the height of the stairs.
We have seen this scene before in the Old Charter ad.
As with so many other things, this wheel at the height of the stairs, upon which Lee places his hand, is an intentional replay and reframing of an earlier image, in this case the steering wheel of the boat. What was in an ad is now in the physical realm. El Dorado was the fabled name of a place of a lost city of gold, built on the fact of a Muisca chief who would cover himself in gold and enter a lake with numerous gold offerings, and the idea of gold to be found soon will now enter the story.
739 Close up of Daria's feet through a stairway as she descends.
At the bottom of the stairs Daria tries first one door, which is locked, then another. It opens and we see beyond a bright white wall. A breeze from within billows her hair. She closes the door without entering and turns to look out the window.
740 View from outside the staircase windows of Daria gazing out.
We hear footsteps. The camera pans right and Daria turns to the right.
741 A servant woman enters through the door Daria had just tried and found locked. The servant woman smiles at her.
742 View of Daria from behind the servant woman.
743 The servant woman continues up the stairs.
744 Daria's eyes follow the woman. Daria flees outside.
Again, we need to consider Daria's fleeing by looking at how the theme of silence ("no war/no words") has played out elsewhere in the film. There were the horns at Benedict that didn't honk. The boy with the Olympia shirt who didn't speak. The old man who didn't answer her inquiry at Ballister (contrasting with the old man who falsely volunteered he was Johnny Wilson), and on this old man Antonioni had zoomed in for an extra creepy shot when Daria ran to her car and fled Ballister. Much like Daria now flees Lee's home.
The servant woman has entered via the door that Daria just tried and found locked, taking us back to her meeting Lee as the door to the ofice building's roof was locked and she was trying to get her book back. There's a non-verbal communication, and then the woman turns and walks up the same stairs down which Daria had just descended, sent down by Lee to change. But Daria has no suitcases with her (presumably in the car), so one wonders at the significance of changing here.
Meaning construed by the audience is likely going to be that Daria has just confronted exploitation of the land and indigenous Americans, is repulsed, likely senses that she may be exploited as well, and flees.
Because of the way Antonioni uses windows in this scene and ones previous, such as in the shot where Daria is seen in a darkened window with the older woman briefly superimposed, I return to Blowup and its use of tinted plexiglass and clear glass. I was reminded of the verse:
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
"But then shall I know even as also I am known." That seems to me to describe what is happening to Daria here.
745 Daria running down the walkway.
746 Daria from above, fleeing. The camera follows her, from above, all the way to her car. She climbs in.
747 Daria's car coming down the driveway. The camera zooms in on it. Still within sight of the house she stops and looks back.
748 The house on its hill.
749 We have a shot of the balcony, empty of people.
750 Close-up of a National Geographic on a table beside two lit cigarettes abandoned in a tray.
751 Close-up of a radio beside a pack of cigarettes resting on a magazine.
In Blowup, when Thomas (Hemming), while his studio was seemingly being broken into, went down to the artist's studio, he instead accidentally spied on Patricia and the artist making love. During this scene, Antonioni has the camera trail off the end of the bed to the paint-splattered floor (more of the grains Thomas has been researching for the truth) and to a small table on which is set a radio, an ashtray and a pack of cigarettes. Much the same as here, and I think it merits note. It's a crisis scene for Thomas as he, the photographer, who has behaved voyeuristically with his subjects, wants nothing more to leave, while Patricia beckons him with ecstatic eyes to stay and watch. She sees him but her partner does not. When Thomas leaves and shuts the door is when her partner looks up. We have much the same here where Daria has been seen by Lee and the servant, but by no one else. She escaped being noticed by the women out by the pool, by the men with whom Thomas was meeting, and Thomas' partner. The sense of emptiness in the Boulderreign house, following this shot, is much like the emptiness we have then at Thomas' studio when he returns to find all his photos have been stolen, save one, and it is the one that shows an indiscernible subject, the blow-up is so extreme.
752 We see the area where Lee had just greeted Daria. It too is empty.
Note the image inset in the circle in the wall on the left. This, I think, is the real "Zabriskie Point" of the film, not a place but an idea. We encounter it in Blow-up as well, in a scene where David Hemmings is in his studio with Jane, the woman he had seen with the individual who he will realize has been mnurdered. He traces the outline of an image of a white point of light against a black field. He has not yet seen the dead man in the photo, but after she leaves he will and will pursue it, blowing the photo up larger and larger. He is able to see in the photo the body, but others may only see grains of light and dark. Ultimately, he does find the body in the park, but when he returns the next day it has disappeared.
In this mandala inset in the wall, which looks much like the iris of an eye, we have the same alternating grains of light and dark that I take as also prefiguring the shards of the "blow-up". My interpretation is that in it we observe the primal point.
It has been preceded by the images of the balcony, the National Geographic beside two lit cigarettes still smoldering in an ashtray. The National Geographic was a March 1969 issue featuring a story on the highlands of Scotland. That takes us back to the deli/grocery in which Mark spoke on the phone with his friend, Morty, where he learned he'd been supposedly seen at the strike. A large cigarette hung from the ceiling wafting smoke, and a Scotch sign was observed as well beside cans of food marked Iris, some of the cans with identifying images and text of the contents, and some, the larger ones, the "blown-up" ones, without the text. We had encountered the same in the billboard ads outside, images with text then blown-up and shown again without text. We have replayed in these shots the Scotch, the Iris cans, the cigarette wafting smoke. And, soon, the blow-up.
753 We see the room in which the meeting was being held. It too is empty and eerily silent.
754 Medium shot of Daria in the car. She turns and crumples on the seat.
755 Despite the meeting room appearing empty, we now see the reflections of the men in the lake of the development map in the room.
The men who had voiced skepticism, to whom Lee has been trying to sell the project, are speaking. We have just been shot the room as though it's empty, or the men at least not near the board onto which weill now see them superimposed and expressing great enthusiasm over a project they had just panned as something they would only consider at speculation prices. Now there is even talk of finding gold.
YOUNGER MAN: Now, we realize it's got great potential with the arena, the pier, etc., it blends itself with casual living, yet it's affluent.
The camera pans down to the reflection of the man with the white hair and mustache.
MAN WITH WHITE HAIR AND MUSTACHE: As a matter of fact, I'm quite enthusiastic about this whole project. But...
756 Cut to Lee's reflection, looking pensive, concerned, as he listens.
MAN WITH WHITE HAIR AND MUSTACHE: ...the next thing you know we'll be finding gold on this property...
Lee's hand rises to his mouth.
757 Cut to the reflection of Lee's associate.
MAN WITH WHITE HAIR AND MUSTACHE: ...if we find water there, we can certainly find gold.
We shall pause here for a second and return to the connections this film has with North by Northwest, this house revisiting the Wright-inspired one set above the gargantuan heads of the presidents carved into the Black Hills. And I believe we had seen a reference to them in the large ad of the Investment Counselors at Sunny Dunes, and that when we see the images of the executives mirrored against the black surface of the map in the following shots, we have also a reference to the faces carved into the Black Hills. I don't think that's the only meaning to be ascribed to what we see, but it is there on one level. The Black Hills were part of land that had been given by treaty to American Indians in 1868. It was supposed to be off-limits to whites, but then gold was found there and a gold rush commenced. The U.S. government seized the land in 1877, less than 10 years after the treaty. Then later blasted into Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills the memorial to the presidents, sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, a KKK member.
Carefree, where this section was filmed, is the home of Black Mountain.
THE YOUNGER MAN (off screen): Well, in this country, water is gold.
758 Reflection of the other older man with gray hair as he speaks.
MAN WITH GRAY HAIR: The development of an air strip or roads, the marina development, and the shore areas...
759 Suddenly, an image of the house silently exploding.
MAN WITH GRAY HAIR: ...would of course be a subsequent fact of the entire project.
760 Medium shot of Daria looking back in the direction of the house from within the car.
She looks at the sleep shirt Mark had given her.
761 Close-up of Daria's hand fondling the red shirt.
762 She steps out of the car and walks a couple of steps toward the house.
763 View from behind Daria of her staring at the house.
764 The house.
766 The house as it blows up, this time with sound.
A mushroom cloud of fire and smoke forms over head.
767 The house blowing up again.
768 Blowing up again at another angle.
769 Blowing up again at yet another angle.
770 Blowing up again at another angle.
771 Blowing up again at another angle.
772 Closer shot of it blowing up.
773 The balcony blowing up.
In this shot we see hanging over the balustrade Life's September 27, 1968 issue, showing two blonds on the cover in bathing suits, looking very much alike, for an article "New Fashion Find - The Land of Blondes, Sweden's Wild Style". The cover was designed by artist Carl Fredrik Reutersward, and had at the bottom a white piece of paper, blotted with ink, covering part of the photo. On it was the phrase "You are reading what I have censored."
There's talk that Antonioni originally wanted a final scene of a plane skywriting the words, "Fuck you, America", or dragging a banner with those words, but that this was cut by the then MGM president, Louis F. Polk. It's also said that Antonioni wanted to end with the explosion, rather than Daria driving off, to keep it ambiguous as to whether or not the house blew up or was her fantasy.
Does the "censored" magazine cover refer to this? Did Antonioni really plan for that to be the end of the film or did he want the story floated of censorship for some other reason?
Those Swedish blonds. Which reminds me of something else I wanted to briefly discuss about the film, and that is Antonioni casting Rod Taylor, who was a time traveler in The Time Machine. He journeyed into the distant future believing he'd find paradise, and instead discovered a society destroyed by its utopian ideals, the benefits of which had been isolated to the class that lived above ground, the blonds, while another class lived in caves under the earth. The domed shambles of a utopian city that Taylor visited in The Time Machine recalls the glass-domed terrarium of the future Sunny Dunes.
A touch of humor? Did Antonioni reference the domed building with its sphinxes in The Time Machine? Was it another urging for us to consider how he works with time in the film?
774 Its stone columns blowing up.
775 Blowing up.
776 Switch now to another version of the house blowing up, this seeming without the surrounding rocks.
But now it looks a lot more like a gold house blowing up.
777 An explosion follows that happens so quickly that we don't have time to register it is a clothes closet.
778 Then, separately, the refrigerator is shown blowing up.
779 Smoke against the sky, the camera pans down to the house on fire
780 Fire consumes the screen. We see the house ablaze and another explosion occurs.
781 The stone walls of the blazing house. Pink Floyd's music enters. A quick pan right now to a model set of the swimming pool area. Which blows up in slow motion silence.
782 Another view of the above swimming pool area blowing up in slow motion silence.
783 A round patio table with square umbrella in the air.
784 A clothes closet blows up against a blue sky.
785 Another slightly different view of it blowing up.
786 Another view, the air filled with cloth.
787 Scene of a television on which is a broadcast, perhaps of a news reporter, flowers in a vase atop, and an easy chair beside. This blows up.
Before the blow-up, we can see the smoke of the house's blow-up in the background.
789 A closer view of the debris.
790 Refrigerator blowing up again. Meat exploding out.
791 Meat, vegetables, fruit, cereal. They float so slowly down against the blue background that at times they appear to be in water.
792 Another view.
793 A closer view, with flying chicken.
794 Another view of the clothes.
795 Another view of the electronics debris from the television.
796 Books and papers flying as if they too have been blown up.
797 Clothes flying.
798 Food and Wonder bread.
799 A newspaper.
800 Return to the patio furniture blowing up.
Pink Floyd's "Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up", shifts gears and moves from what had been meditative tones to a near scream.
Daria had earlier stated at Zabriskie Point that sometimes she'd like to scream. Mark had told her to do so, and he had. She hadn't really screamed, just gave a half-yell as she twirled then ran. Her real scream is had here, expressed in the music, when it switches away from the meditative section to the near scream.
801 More stuff flying in the air, seemingly mainly books.
802 Closer view of the books blowing up.
803 Another view. With periodicals so we now see faces amidst the debris in photos.
804 I guess a huge bookshelf blowing up. Which I guess represents the school.
805 Cut to a close-up of Daria smiling. The sun setting now, casting a red glow over the scene she climbs back in her car and drives away. The camera turns to the sun setting behind the mountains.
It is much the same setting sun as in the Sunny Dunes terrarium model.
It is much the same setting sun as in the Bank of American ad, which Mark had passed after departing the bus and passing the mortuary ads on the benches.
And the sunset of the Old Charter ad.
Much as in "Blow Up" we've had the grain of a photo becoming larger and larger and larger, Daria sinking more deeply into the scene, the story evolving, continual replays of motifs, permutations of motifs, until finally...
Which isn't literal. Despite Antonioni's noted hatred of American commercialism, that is not all this finale, this scene is about.
Antonioni chose, in Blow-up, not to leave it ambiguous as to whether or not we had seen a body in the grains of light and shadow in the photograph. He could have opted to not have the photographer go to the park at night and view the body. But he did have him go to the park, and it was when he returned that he found his studio had been broken into and all photogrphic proof stolen but for one photo which was so blown up as to show an undistinguishable form. When the photographer said it was the body, he knew he would be met with skepticism. And, finally, defeated, he later said he'd seen nothing. Then, returning to the park, he watches the mimes play. At the beginning of the film, the mimes had been used by Antonioni to introduce us to the idea of sign play--no words. They have no tennis ball but play a game of tennis, when it is batted out into the park, the photographer has been so sensitized to seeing what isn't apparent, to communing with signs, that he locates the tennis ball and throws it back into the game. At this point, Thomas hears the tennis ball. We don't see it, but we hear it being batted back and forth. He then disappears from the field.
Not to hurt a plot's feelings or anything, like it really doesn't matter, but the fact is it didn't matter as much as what Antonioni was representing. Antonioni was less concerned with American consumerism and advertising and land development than with using, for instance, this final blow-up as a vehicle for an idea. These articles splintering to smithereens is as the black and white film grain in Blow-up. One leaves language behind and moves into a place where matter and knowledge and comprehension don't so much as disintegrate as become like a quantum level view of a universe within an atom. One expects to gain more understanding the closer one gets, the more intimate becomes with the subject, and instead the subject changes and fractures into an ammoral arrangement of light and shadow and certain interior, seeming mindless patterns. It is as all potentials flying out of a single point, the big bang as depicted with the mandala star image inset in the circle in the wall before which Lee had greeted Daria. A Dionysian rending of meaning, context deconstructed and symbols rearranged in different permutations, wholly abstracted, and persons becoming unhinged from personality as they move through an "other" identity toward a truer, deeper experience of...a "what" that is left to the viewer to attempt to discern.
The blow up scene...
Approx 12,000 words or 24 single-spaced pages. A 92 minute read at 130 wpm..