The Drop Box

January 22, 2008

Vanishing Point (1971)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , — Toshi Yano @ 9:32 pm

Vanishing Point poster 

Vanishing Point opens with a wonderfully slow 180-degree pan, beginning at an empty Shell station, passing over rural landscape and ending on an empty road. From the distance a police motorcycle speeds towards us, siren blaring, but we don’t follow it – the camera stays on the road. Two bulldozers creep across the screen; another police vehicle whips by, but again the camera refuses to budge – it’s focused intently on the bulldozers’ deliberate advance. A broken window with a tattered screen, the bulldozers reflected in a shard of glass – an old man mumbling to himself, watching the bulldozers pass – a handful of townsfolk eyeing the strange procession, vaguely curious… Finally the bulldozers stop and drop their blades to the blacktop, blocking both lanes of the two-lane highway. This title sequence is a near-perfect example of a certain kind of Seventies filmmaking – it’s contemplative, has a real pastoral quality and induces a strange longing – and it’s a shame because it’s the best part of the movie. It’s a shame, too, because the absurdity that follows does not feel nearly as enjoyable as it could have, coming on the heels of such a fine introduction.

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