Big O Week Number 4 - So Young
When I was 15 I saw the film Zabriskie Point, a sprawling rambling road movie supposed to nail the American hippy culture in the same way that "Blow-Up" illustrated the apotheosis of swnging London just two years before.
Italian director Antonioni made "Blow Up", released in 1966 to tumultuous critical acclaim, and so was given pretty much carte blanche to do what he wanted with his next film Zabriskie Point. What he did was make a massive very expensive flop which nearly bust MGM. Young chap on run teams up with girl who is heading west in her car...
At the end of the film the guy is dead, shot by the police. The girl turns up at her boss's luxury condo in the middle of the desert, which now represents the corrupt money grabbing capitalist order that she blames for the death of the guy. She drives away from it into the desert and then stops and looks back and in her mind blows it up. Again. Again. and Again for something like 15 times. And again in slow-mo from different angles. Then there are a series of great surreal slow motion shots of the symbolic contents being blown up into the air - the wardrobe, the television, the fridge stuffed full of food, the library, consumerist America. Then silence. She gets back into her car and drives off into the desert sunrise. Roy Orbison sings
Dawn comes up, so young,
Dreams begin so young....
The credits rolled and everyone left the cinema except me - the only one who legally shouldn't have been there. Antonioni commissioned modern groups - Floyd, the Youngbloods, the Grateful Dead etcetera t- o record music for the film - but he goes to a pre Beatles star, the king of hope in the face of overwhelming odds, the Big O, to provide the finale music to his epic of the sixties. And that was the moment that made me sit up and pay attention to Roy Orbison, this extraordinary arthouse film director choosing him to represent the hope youth supplies for the future, not the rock bands, but the small man who heroically aspires to greatness and achieves nobility just because he’s trying. (If you want to see it, it's 1 hr 44 mins into the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVlFtA8ZUJ0)
It's the American dream after all, all over again.