Vanishing Point (Sarafian, 1971)

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Lino
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#1 Post by Lino » Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:14 pm

The first time I heard of this movie was when I bought the Primal Scream record back when it first came out (not to mention that the first single was called Kowalsky, after the lead character's name).

Since then, I've been curious to check it out but ultimately never did. By reading some reviews I think that at least I'll be in for some good, action-filled fun. But does it really live up to its legend?

Ishmael
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#2 Post by Ishmael » Mon Jul 31, 2006 3:00 pm

Myra Breckinridge wrote:But does it really live up to its legend?
The first time I saw Vanishing Point, I loved it. Then I saw Two-Lane Blacktop, and Vanishing Point suddenly seemed trite. I'm not saying they're the exact same movie, but if you're looking for that existential road trip 70s vibe thing, it's much more profound in Hellman's film. Vanishing Point is worth watching, though. Maybe it's more of a 60s road trip existential thing, but made in 1971 (I think). Anyway, there's some good weird stuff in it.

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manicsounds
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#3 Post by manicsounds » Mon Jul 31, 2006 8:40 pm

The Primal Scream album was how I had heard of it too.
Right after the CD came out, I happened to catch Vanishing Point on late night cable. It's not an action-packed movie. It does have some nice driving scenes, and a plot from familiar sources, including The Bible, if that's how you want to read it.

I wrote in the bargain forum that its only $7.47 at amazon.com now.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#4 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:27 am

manicsounds wrote:The Primal Scream album was how I had heard of it too.
Right after the CD came out, I happened to catch Vanishing Point on late night cable. It's not an action-packed movie. It does have some nice driving scenes, and a plot from familiar sources, including The Bible, if that's how you want to read it.
heh! That's exactly how I got into the movie as well. I really dig this movie in a big, big way and I'd rank it alongside Two-Lane Blacktop as one of the great existentialist/nihlistic road movies on the '70s. Interestingly, Audioslave took their love of the film even further and brilliantly recreated and condensed the movie into a music video for their song, “Show Me How To Live.â€

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#5 Post by Narshty » Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:23 am

I love it too - its flaws actually make it a lot more interesting. It's a bizarre mix of right-on attitudes, while seeing nothing wrong at all with including two of the most grotesquely threatening would-be-rapist gay hitchhikers ever captured on film or indeed admitting the fact that a driver high on amphetaminies should be taken off the road as quickly as possible. None of which stops it from being a lot of fun, very exciting and often extremely beautiful. But for real existentialist tyre-screeching porn, you can't beat The Driver.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#6 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:28 am

Narshty wrote:I love it too - its flaws actually make it a lot more interesting. It's a bizarre mix of right-on attitudes, while seeing nothing wrong at all with including two of the most grotesquely threatening would-be-rapist gay hitchhikers ever captured on film or indeed admitting the fact that a driver high on amphetaminies should be taken off the road as quickly as possible. None of which stops it from being a lot of fun, very exciting and often extremely beautiful. But for real existentialist tyre-screeching porn, you can't beat The Driver.
True. It would make a great triple bill with Two-Lane and VP.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#7 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:45 pm

The latest ish (#12) of Cinema Retro has an excellent article on the making of the film and an interview with Sarafian. Well worth picking up.

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Ruby
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Re: Vanishing Point (Sarafian, 1971)

#8 Post by Ruby » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:22 pm

This is one of those movies that I’d love to put the scissors to: the ‘lost love’ flashbacks with cheesy soft-porn aesthetic were unfathomable in the context of a mostly meditative film.

The other flashbacks –revealing his careers as a race driver and moral cop - are adequate to let us accept the events of the journey: he is a good driver with knowledge of and a gripe with the police so he takes a certain joy in evading them but this doesn’t explain his compulsion to drive. These flashbacks don’t even tell us much about Kowalski as an individual man.

Kowalski’s a kind of super- (almost metaphysical) everyman on the definitive journey without purpose. The non-police characters - the bikers, the DJ, and the snake catcher – are all outsiders, in very different ways, who tap into the ultimate freedom Kowalski represents. This is why they support him even though they don’t understand him. In this regard, it’s a kind of spirit of the age movie without the usual myopia.

So why oh why the attempt at explaining his character and why in such an awful way?

I’m not crazy about ‘road’ movies with their life-learning arc and I find car chases incredibly boring. But I loved the driving in this film. If only I was spared the love story, I would really love this film too.

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sevenarts
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Re: Vanishing Point (Sarafian, 1971)

#9 Post by sevenarts » Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:35 am

I agree that the flashbacks are mostly horrid and cheesy, and the film would be near-perfect without them. As I said in my review a while back, whenever the focus is simply on Kowalski driving, the film is amazing. It's less comfortable trying to shoehorn in progressive social issues and such, although the racist attack on Super Soul has some bite to it. Oddest of all are the two nasty gay caricatures who are included for no apparent reason, severely undercutting the film's peace-and-love-type messages. It's a weird, uneven film, but there are enough propulsive, hypnotic driving sequences that it remains enjoyable as a whole.

HarryLong
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Re: Vanishing Point (Sarafian, 1971)

#10 Post by HarryLong » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:06 am

sevenarts wrote:Oddest of all are the two nasty gay caricatures who are included for no apparent reason
At that time it was still OK to put demeaning gay stereotypes on film ... hell, it still is, who am I kidding? ... but not black stereotypes.

Vic Pardo
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Re: Vanishing Point (Sarafian, 1971)

#11 Post by Vic Pardo » Fri May 01, 2009 6:35 am

I saw this when it came out and I was 17 or 18, just the right age and sensibility for it. I saw it a bunch of times as it used to play on double bills with other 20th Century Fox films. But I've not had the courage (or patience) to revisit it. It strikes me as a creature of its time, best appreciated then. Of course, if you want to know what young people found enthralling in the movies 38 years ago, it's a good place to start, although we also found FRENCH CONNECTION and DIRTY HARRY enthralling and those films hold up a helluva lot better.

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Re: Vanishing Point (Sarafian, 1971)

#12 Post by jojo » Sun Jun 01, 2014 3:47 pm

Watched this last night (the UK "uncut" version), and really liked it despite its occasional off notes. I didn't even mind the cheesy flashbacks. Can't help but think the film would play much better though if they had cut the gay couple scene and kept the Charlotte Rampling scene instead in the American version.

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