Classic Scene #11
Zabriskie Point, 1970, Michelangelo Antonioni
The ending of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point comes in three stages; first the multi-angled explosion, a thrilling succession of detonations, each one closer, each one beautiful in its annihilating force, like a Michael Bay wet dream. But then it goes somewhere Bay would never dream of going, wet or otherwise. The sound of Pink Floyd’s Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up drifts over a scattershot ballet of graceful, slow-motion debris, an atomised universe of shattered glass, torn clothes and flying food swimming in the blue ether, surreal and haunting. Then the music changes to a screaming intensity as explosions bloom out at us, books bursting like ripe flesh, pain and anguish erupting from beneath the visual. It’s extraordinary, like nothing in cinema before or since. And then it just ends, abruptly, and we’re back with the girl. Remember the girl?