Monday, July 7, 2014

Antonioni's Beatles/Manson Trilogy

Blow-Up was Michelangelo Antonioni's first English-speaking film and is considered a masterpiece of the psychedelic era. It was the first of an English-speaking trilogy he directed which culminated in 1975 with The Passenger, starring Jack Nicholson.

Though these three films are of course multi-faceted and multi-layered with symbolism & visual motifs, there is a notable subtext involving certain motifs that can't help but remind one, familiar enough with the topics, of The Beatles and The Manson Family.

Released in the U.S. on December 18th, 1966, the day Beatle friend Tara Browne died in his Lotus, Blow-Up starrs David Hemmings, who earlier that year starred as Sharon Tate's brother in Eye of the Devil (aka 13), which was her first film.
In Blow-Up, Hemmings plays a London fashion photographer named Thomas, his love interest/next door neighbor is named Patricia, which is Sharon Tate's character name in her last film, 12 + 1 (aka 13 Chairs).
Incidentally, also on December 18th, 1966, the film The Family Way is released, which features a soundtrack by Paul McCartney. The Family Way and Blow-Up are both 111 minutes long.

Now, the auburn/redheaded Venessa Redgrave starrs in Blow-Up as Jane, which was also the name of Paul McCartney's movie star redheaded girlfriend from 1963 to 1968 - which leads us to the abundant "Paul is dead" motifs in this trilogy.
Regarding the idea of doubles/twins/doppelgangers, etc. the name Thomas means twin.

After developing photos of Jane and her boyfriend that he took in a park, Thomas notices that he may have captured scenes of a murder, the victim being Jane's boyfriend. He then becomes obsessed with analyzing his photos and trying to convince others of what he sees. (which is a spot-on way of describing believers of "Paul is dead").
As we will see, it is unclear to the viewer as to whether Thomas' flimsy evidence is proof of an actual murder, or if he has imagined the whole thing. However, the ending is quite revealing.
Another abundant theme in the film is that of "pulling one's leg". The first instance comes with none other than model/actress Maggie Wright.
Who we also know as Miss Gabriela from Magical Mystery Tour. She also appears in the 1967 Black Dahlia/Sharon Tate-heavy film Casino Royale. See Sharon Tate post here.
Beatles fans will remember Paul pulling her leg and telling her that he remembers her films and that he's 30 years old. Neither of which she buys.
To drive the Miss Maggie/MMT point home even more, Thomas passes this yellow bus near the middle of the film. It is the same model as the MMT bus, same red seats, sign on back, and everything. And if you still didn't catch it, seconds later, he passes another yellow bus!
For those not familiar with the "Paul is dead" theory, it is rumored the replacement's name is William "Bill" Campbell. Not only does our first glimpse of Thomas take place in the Camberwell district,
but his friend next door is named Bill, who of course, is fixated on the leg in his latest abstract painting.
Thomas and Patricia only have a quick interaction during the first part of the film, and what is it? She gives him a beer. It's hard to tell which brand it is, but it's interesting to consider that Tara Browne was the heir to the Guinness fortune.
While photographing birds in a park, Thomas follows the one that has set itself apart from the rest of the flock and flown away. This brings Jane and her beau into Thomas' view; their rendezvous he will secretly photograph.
During the intro to A Hard Day's Night, a mustachioed McCartney is set apart from the rest of the group. He is also set apart with the song Yesterday.
As Thomas runs up the hill to follow them, he jumps a few times, resembling McCartney's goofy actions in the Fool On The Hill segment of the Magical Mystery Tour film.
Jane catches Thomas snapping photos of them, she then tries to obtain the film, but Thomas does not give it to her, she then runs off and we do not see her lover standing anywhere.
Thomas then meets up in a cafe with his publisher. They look through photos that Thomas took at a poor house. This is the last photo they look at. The man in the photo is none other than the author of the book that this film is based on, Julio Cortazar. Our paperback writer.
Film analyst Juli Kearns (Room 237) takes this image of Cortazar as a sort of spiritual double of Thomas. Read her brilliant analysis of Blow-Up here.
At that moment, Thomas finds he's being stalked by a man who looks remarkably similar to him. When the doppelganger sees he's been spotted, he runs off, towards Thomas' car under the blue Rutland awning. (Bringing to mind Monty Python's spoofumentary on The Bealtes titled The Rutles, the name of which comes from the Rutland area).
As Thomas darts outside we see this black VW Beetle, which Thomas has parked across from. (Antonioni will strategically use VW Beetles in the other films, as well).
The doppelganger then hides amongst a group of African men in order to slink away towards his own car. Which brings to mind McCartney's curious trip to Africa during November of 1966, (which is shrouded in mystery and inconsistent dates), which PIDers say was McCartney's replacement.
Thomas quickly gets in his car and heads home, darting through the cluster of African men, almost running them over. (Remember, it is rumored McCartney's death came by automobile). This moment somewhat resembles that of the birds he scattered in the park.
When Thomas arrives home, another black VW Beetle is parked directly across from his apartment. The license plate reads 6/3.
6/3 equals 2 (twin).
It could also be taken as three sixes, which corresponds with the VW logo being taken as three Vs, and Vav being the 6th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. 666 is the sum total of the Babalonian Sun Square. The sun is attributed to the Sephirah of Tiphareth on the Kabbalah Tree of Life. More on that in a second.
Curiously, en route to his apartment, we are shown a group of A-bomb protesters. One of them puts her sign in his car, which reads "Go Away" - this is just after having seen his doppelganger.
The "Go Away" sign reminds me of the "Way Out" sign in A Hard Day's Night, which George sits next to as he is told he can be replaced. The sign is a cardboard promo for the tv studio's model/actress superstar, Thomas photographs model/actresses. Also notice the T is split into two different segments and the line runs through the model's head.
When we first see the protesters, the building across the street is called The Albert; remember The Albert Hall is mentioned in A Day In The Life, the final song on Sgt. Peppers, that's partly in honor of Tara Browne.
As soon as the guy with the black sweater reading "The End" comes around the corner, a white VW Beetle appears in view. The End is the name of a Beatles song on Abbey Road, which features a white VW Beetle on the front cover.
The A-bomb splitting the atom is often synchromystically taken as a representation of the split Adam on the Tree of Life. The split tree is held apart by the 19th path, directly above Tiphareth/Sun, which is attributed to the Strength card. The Hebrew word OZ means strength - tying back into the significance of the VW/666.
Notice one of the signs says "ON, ON", I would put forth that this could be meant to be taken as "OZ, OZ" turned 90 degrees.
The Strength/Lust Card is attributed to the Hebrew letter Teth, which is a pictograph for snake. We also see the Kundalini serpent represented in the Lion's tail.
Towards the end of the film, Thomas sees Verushka, a client of his, at a party and she is wearing a snake-print jumpsuit. Earlier in the film he mounts her during a photo shoot, which is predominantly used for the movie poster - recalling the imagery of the Beast(/Sun) and the Scarlet Woman on the Strength card. (there is a lot of gender interchangeability in Antonioni's films, which I explore further down).
Interestingly, at this point in the film, Thomas says to Verushka, "I thought you were in Paris." to which she replies, "I am in Paris." Though they are London.
The upper room of Thomas' apartment has two wooden rafters that form a 77, which get a lot of screen time. The Gematrical value of OZ is 77.
Thomas' apartment was filmed at 77 Pottery Lane in London, which is just a 2 mile drive from where Tara Browne died at Redcliffe Square & Redcliffe Gardens (Redgrave).
On the other side is his lounging room, which includes a painting of a circular, bright light. In tandem with the pillow with the number three on it, it seems the circular light could be taken as a Sephirot on the Tree of Life, the top three in fact, the Supernal Triad.
Also notice he also has an image of many camels on the wall. Gimel, the Hebrew letter attributed to the High Priestess, means camel and is what the Adept uses to cross the Abyss, which is often referred to as a desert. The thirteenth path is the path of the High Priestess and connects the Supernal Triad with the lower seven Sephiroth. The fourescent light could even be taken as the 777 Lightning Flash of Creation. If the Kabbalist set-up of this room is unintentional, it's quite uncanny.
It's also noteworthy in this light that Jane becomes self-conscious of her toplessness while in the lounge room, and runs over to get her shirt from the other room. (think Adam & Eve realizing they're naked. The Abyss is often equated with the fall of man/separation from Eden).
Also notice the two veiled busts of young women; the most prominent feature of the High Priestess and Isis in European occultism is that she is veiled. Thomas is smoking in this scene, emphasizing the camel theme. He puts the spent match on the veiled bust's head.
We also have Maggie "MMT" Wright as the veiled model.
The Shekinah, represented as Malkuth on the Tree of Life, and the final Heh in YHVH, is said to be a mirror reflection of the first Heh, which is Binah. When Thomas first enters his apartment, we see Verushka reflected in this pane of glass.
To drive the Isis point home further, in the first scene, we see this newspaper in the backseat of Thomas' car. Notice the 'is is'.
There is also the abundant theme of birds in the film. Thomas not only refers to the women in the film as birds numerous times, but there is also repeated use of the feathers in his studio, and it was the birds he was photographing in the park that led him to Jane and her beau.
Now remember when Isis re-assembled Osiris, she fashioned a phallus for him, turned herself into a bird and twittered above him in order to conceive Horus.
Interesting imagery on the cover of this 1966 magazine. Notice Jane Asher as the bird fluttering over Paul.
See how McCartney resonates as an Osiris figure in this and this post.
So where's Osiris in the film?
Towards the end of the film, Thomas looks for Jane in a nightclub he thought he saw her enter. Notice the "Bob Dylan is dead" poster on the door, which was a popular sentiment at the time in leu of Dylan switching from acoustic to electric.
Also notice the two Harold Wilson posters. Not only is he referenced in the Beatles song Taxman, but he comes up in other connections with Beatles nodes and Africa, as layed out here by Dr. Tomoculus.
When he first enters, one of the first people we see is the bespectacled, redheaded young man with the sailor's hat, that looks a lot like Jane Asher's brother Peter Asher of the famous British pop duo Peter & Gordon. Thomas' agent in the film is named Peter, btw.
While watching The Yardbirds, which includes Thelemite Jimmy Page, guitarist Jeff Beck smashes his guitar, which could be taken as Osiris being broken into 14 pieces, and throws the neck & head of the guitar out into the crowd, which could be taken as Osiris' phallus. Especially when Thomas holds it near his crotch. By the way, Juli Kearns also points out some of these Isis & Osiris connections; it's not just me!
Notice the name of the nightclub is Ricky Tick. Which makes me think: Ricky/Richard/Ringo. Tick/Dick/Richard. Tick/Beetle. Beetle Ringo.
He also buys a giant wooden propeller which not only could represent Osiris' wooden phallus, but also denotes flying, as in Isis as the bird. Though this may be for a boat. Which is still significant since Isis searched for Osiris in a boat.
Back to Horus. Right after Thomas denies Jane the film he has just taken of her & her lover, which he later believes contains proof of a murder, he leaves the park and while returning to the antique shop, we see this woman with a baby carriage, which Thomas glances over at. Which could also symbolize a death & rebirth motif, if the man was actually killed. Notice the woman is wearing a black & white top with a purple skirt, just like Jane.
Thomas bought the propeller at this antique shop, with the address 33.
I also couldn't help but notice the Ludovico poster in his "Abyss room". The Ludovico Technique being the procedure used on Alex in A Clockwork Orange.
Thomas' publisher incidentally resembles Stanley Kubrick to an odd degree.
Then there's the 'eyes wide shut' dialogue between Thomas and his secretary.
Yes, the blonde is Jane Birkin. Interestingly, in 1968, she starred as Penny Lane in the film Wonderwall, along with Suki Potier, who was Tara Browne's girlfriend in 1966 and was in the car with him during what would be his fatal accident.
George Harrison wrote & recorded the soundtrack to Wonderwall, which was the first release by Apple, though it was under the Zapple dpt. Wonderwall also starrs Jack McGowran as The Professor, who was also in Polanski's Fearless Vampire Killers as The Professor, and How I Won The War, both released in 1966.

The fact that Blow-Up was released the day Tara Browne died, along with the over-abundance of statues and busts in the film, and the 111 minute length to the second of the film made me want to try playing it with the Sgt. Pepper's album. (Note the statues and busts on the album, A Day In The Life, and the mirrored drum which reads "`1ONE1X HE^DIE".
The sync-up was pretty phenomenal. Particularly when Thomas drives through an intersection past the traffic lights right as Lennon sings, "He didn't notice that the lights had changed." The very next shot in this montage is the one with the yellow MMT bus.
There's 4 or 5 different scenes of Thomas driving around the The Kensington and Camberwell areas in London in  his convertible. Which is interesting in light of the famous footage of Tara Browne driving around the Kensington area in his convertible.
And the 3rd time the album plays through, they sing, "Billlyyyy Sheeeears!" right as Thomas approaches the dead guy in the park.
Was there really a dead guy? Was Thomas imagining it? Was his leg being pulled?
Notice in the shot (contrast increased), the man's left arm is mysteriously missing, and as Julie Kearns also points out, there's a shadow, forming an almost phantom arm, reaching over and pulling Thomas' leg.
(Jacob grasped his twin Esau's leg during birth).
Notice there is no blood or bullet holes anywhere. We also did not hear a gun shot in the park during the incident in question, though it was by gunfire that Thomas' photos led him to believe that there was a death.
Which, as Julie Kearns points out, parallels the experience of the audience when Mark dies in Zabriskie Point and when David dies in The Passenger, all supposedly by gun, and yet no bullet holes or blood. Other people are killed and we see blood and bullet holes. But not so with the supposed deaths upon which the films focus. When we return to examine them, in essence, we find no dead bodies.

When Thomas goes back to the park the next morning the body is no longer there.
The film began with mimes, and it ends with Thomas watching the same mimes engage in an imaginary game of tennis. At one point they pretend to hit the ball outside of the court and ask Thomas to retrieve the ball for them.
Thomas does so. He picks up the imaginary ball at the same location in the field where he set the bird into flight which led him to Jane & her boyfriend.
And after throwing the ball back to the mimes, the camera closes in on him. We now hear the sounds of an actual tennis game in progress. He now officially sees & hears what he wants to see & hear.
Thomas fades away and the film then ends on the same shot it began on, the empty field of grass in the park.

The only evidence he had for a murder were grainy, ambiguous blow-ups. When in fact, oddly enough, the photos he took don't even match up with what was actually taking place at the park.
For instance, here, they are in the exact same spot, but Jane is holding the man's right hand while he's facing Thomas, whereas in Thomas' photo, Jane is holding the man's left hand and he's facing away. What's even crazier, is that if you pay attention to the scene in the park, Thomas wasn't even photographing them at this moment, he was climbing to the other side of a fence to better hide himself.
There are other photos he took that contain discrepancies according to what was actually taking place, but for brevity's sake, I'll skip the rest and point out two photos of his that are from angles he was not in a position to take. The photo in the first framegrab on the right and the photo in the second framegrab are much more to the right from where Thomas was standing when he would've shot them. He was standing directly in line with them, as seen in the photo on the far-left.
Jane's boyfriend is played by Ronan O'Casey who starred in a 1954 film titled Double Exposure, about a man who may have photographed a murder. He plays a man named Trickson, and there's another character named Trixon. He also wrote & starred in a film titled The Double Exposure of Holly in 1976, which starrs Catherine Burgess (think A Clockwork Orange). He was also in one episode of Dallas, which was titled "Hello, Goodbye, Hello". Ronan's IMDB
Everything in Blow-Up after the park was essentially the figment of Thomas' imagination, possibly even before that. This context is communicated by Antonioni with the recurring themes, motifs and even color schemes. The first part of the film bleeding into the other parts - much like how you take the elements of your waking life into your dreams.
The green carpet in Thomas' "Abyss" lounge room could be taken as the field in which he took the photos, as pointed out again by Julie Kearns.

Thomas looks to me a little like a blond Paul McCartney, or even his son James. And the blonde model from the group of five, referred to as "the birds", looks a lot like McCartney's wife Linda. It may be a stretch, but I mention it because Thomas tells her to lower her raised arms, and motions his arms up & down like the Wings of a bird. Her dress is all white except for the black stripe going down the center of each arm denoting the arms/wings.
In the next shoot, she is dressed somewhat like a pilot/stewardess (front).

Incidentally, in the Monty Python Flying Circus series, during the final scene of episode 28 of season 3, Ringo Starr makes a guest appearance but has no lines. In the next episode, #29, four characters go on a hunt in Africa. One is killed, and arrested for impersonating Michelangelo Antonioni, whom they then go on to describe as the closing credits roll.
(thanks Dr. Tomoculus for finding this).

Not only was Thomas' apartment a stone's throw from where Tara Browne died, but so was the night club, which was on Oxford Street, as well as the cafe where he realized he was being stalked, which is only a 1.7 mile drive away from Redcliffe Square.
Speaking of A Day In The Life being partly dedicated to Tara Browne, this is the first line of the plot description for Blow-Up in Wikipedia.

In 1967, Antonioni was slated to direct the Beatles third film which was originally titled "Beatles 3", then changed to "Shades Of Personality". The plot of which revolved around a man (Lennon) who suffers from a three-way split personality, each one portrayed by the other Beatles.
(The Rough Guide To The Beatles by Chris Ingham)

The producer of Antonioni's English trilogy was none other than Carlo Ponti. He was married to Sophia Loren, who happens to be in the crowd on the Sgt. Pepper's cover, but her cut-out is obscured by the waxen Beatlemania eidelons. Hidden wisdom.
Carlo Ponti also produced S. Loren's 1963 film Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow. As well as Polanski's Che? (1972).

And back to Blow-Up being 111 minutes long to the second. Antonioni in English Gematria = 666, and in simple Gematria = 111. It's like he signed his name in English to his first English-speaking film.
If that weren't enough, the title Zabriskie Point appears on the screen over the sun right exactly at the 111-minute 30-second mark in Zabriskie Point. The Babalonian Sun Square equaling 666. This is also the moment Roy Orbison sings the words "Zabriskie Point" from his song So Young which is used here at the end.


Getting right to the point with Zabriskie Point: there are two main characters, Daria and Mark.
Daria works as a substitute secretary and has just started working for a development company that is planning to build resort homes in Death Valley. Mark is a college student with aspirations for revolution. During a protest, Mark witnesses a black student being shot by a police officer. Mark then decides to shoot the cop with his newly purchased revolver, but somebody else, off screen, beats him to it. Not wanting to become the suspect, Mark flees the scene. Soon learning that he has become the suspect, since he & the shooter look alike, he steals a private airplane with the intent of retreating the area until the situation boils over.
Mark & Daria eventually meet and strike up a friendship. They drive out to Death Valley and romance ensues. At one point we see a commune of young hippies engaged in an orgy out in the desert.
White people fleeing to Death Valley amidst racial violence. Remind anyone of the Manson Family?
Keep in mind, Zabriskie Point was filmed from late-1968 through mid-1969, and was released in theatres in February 1970.

The film opens during a meeting between students and members of The Black Panthers, discussing a revolution. The female Panther is none other than Kathleen Cleaver. During this beginning part of the film, Pink Floyd's song Heart Beat, Pig Meat serves as the soundtrack. So we've got cleaver, a butcher knife, and pig meat happening here. Remember the words "Pigs" and "Piggies" were scrawled in blood on the walls and doors of the homes of the Manson Family's victims. The Manson Family claim to have been inspired by songs on the Beatles' White Album such as Piggies and Revolution #9.
Charles Manson told his followers that it was The Black Panthers who were going to be key in the violent uprising of the black people. And when Bobby Beausoleil killed Gary Hinman, Manson had Beausoleil paint a Black Panther paw print on Hinman's wall next to the words "Political Piggy", so as to implicate the Panters in the murder, and in hopes of inspiring them to further acts of violence.

Also during this opening sequence, the lead actors are credited in tandem with a wristwatch. Which is interesting in that the timeline in which these two characters cross paths later in the film defies logic. Which, for those who are familiar with the research, echoes the mixed up and mysterious dates and events of the Beatles lives in the fall & winter of 1966.
"Paul is dead" fans will love the way Paul Fix's name is placed directly above Bill Garaway's.
Produced by
one of the early lines in the film. (and remember, the Beatles wore their famous Cuban heel boots).
The next line is one of the Black Panthers telling this man to teach Mark on the Red Book (Mao's). "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao..."
Later, Mark tells the police his name is Carl Marx.
Interestingly, Sharon Tate's most famous photo shoot includes Mao's Red Book as a central prop, from Esquire Magazine. The article talks of Leninist-Marxist philosophy.
Here we have our protagonist, Mark, leaning up against a fire hose. The camera then quickly pans and we once again have our Mark - now sitting in another part of the room in the middle of a cigarette. There was no break in the dialogue during this pan; implying two Marks, or that the film defies the logistics of time & space.
There's also the fixation on the pig farm mural painted on the side of a meat plant that Mark drives by early in the film. As well as the Ham & Bacon sign also seen during the driving montage.
And keeping with the themes of Blow-Up; protests, statues/mannequins and VW Beetles, still early on in the film, as Mark is dropping his roommate off, we see three VW Beetles ahead. He then turns right and we see a red VW Beetle in front of the school and a student protest in progress. This is near the scene of the shooting he will witness during a later protest.
Mark goes to bail out his roommate at the local jail, and the only protester we see being processed states that his name is William Pollit, (William/Paul).
The promotional film that Daria's employers have made for the Death Valley real-estate development project uses mannequins instead of live actors.
And for the golf course, they feature hole number 9.
As they executives are watching the Sunny Dunes promo we see a "Jesus Saves" sign out the window. Manson referred to himself as such.
Mark's only dorm room decoration, this dyed red American flag. Remember Sharon Tate had an American flag draped over her couch, as seen in the crime scene photos.
During the student/police shooting at the college, we see this rendering of Bruce Lee on the wall in the school. Juli Kearns has a few intriguing theories as to why Antonioni placed Lee's image in the film, in her synopsis of Zabriski Point. Read Juli's analysis here - tons of great stuff.
But what I find interesting is that Bruce Lee choreographed the Kung-Fu fight scene in Sharon Tate's film The Wrecking Crew.
Daria's boyfriend answers her phone by saying "goodbye" and ends the conversation by saying "hello". ("You say goodbye, I say hello.")
On her way to Phoenix, Daria stops in small town and tells actor Paul Fix that she is looking for a man named Jimmy (James). She is told she is in a town named Ballister, however, there are no towns in the Soutwest named Ballister. An elderly bar patron also tells her that he is Johnny Wilson, middle-weight champion of the world in 1920, which as Julie Kearns confirms, he is not. Yet, Daria readily accepts everything she is told, as she doesn't see a reason not to.
After Mark learns he has been mistaken as the cop killer, he takes a bus to the other side of LA. When he steps off we see two ads for morturaies, can't help but notice the McCormick Mortuaries.
We also have more double-sevens here.
And what is the name of the plane Mark steals? Again resonating with Lillith of the Lust/Strength card. Again, Strength in Hebrew is OZ, which equals 77.
Why don't we?
Eventually Mark & Daria do a little in-out in the desert, and eventually we see dozens of other young hippie couples doing the same.
Plant thoughts, or plant-thoughts? As in plant consciousness.
They eventually return to Daria's car where they encounter a cop who seems to be looking for Mark. As Daria talks to the cop, Mark hides behind a port-a-potty and aims his gun at him. Daria sees this and stands in front of the cop, blocking Mark's shot. After the cop leaves, Daria asks Mark if the gun was loaded. He replies "no" as he opens the chamber and empties the bullets - lying.
He then tells Daria that he's decided to return the plane to the airport despite the trouble he will be in. She urges him to put the bullets back in the gun insisting that he'll need them, but Mark says he's not going to try convincing anyone of his innocence. Daria asks him why not and adds that she believes he's innocent.
Why does Daria believe Mark is innocent? She just saw him lie about the gun being loaded, she just watched as he attempted to shoot a cop, plus she was not even at the school shooting. Remember she also believed the old man was a famous boxer, in a town that doesn't exist.
Speaking of fantasy cities; to drive the point home, for no apparent reason, Antonioni has this family in an El Dorado swing through the parking lot. Yeah, so El Dorado is the fabled Lost City of Gold, just a coincidence? The Father then says, "They should build a drive-in up here, they'd make a mint." referring once more to the gold theme. Other than this alluding to the city El Dorado, there is literally no point for this scene.
Before returning to LA, Mark decides to give Lilly 7 a makeover.
He of course refers to it as a bird, and we see that they've painted breasts on it. This is where I believe the Isis & Osiris motifs come in.
When Mark & Daria first meet, Mark buzzes mere feet over her car 4 times, and then over her after she gets out of the car. This can't help but remind me of Isis hovering over Osiris to create Horus. You might be thinking the sexes are alternated here so it's a moot point? But, the first thing Mark & Daria say to each other when they meet up and she gives him the red nighty he threw out to her is -
Mark: "Wrong size?"
Daria: "No, wrong sex."
There is an abundance of gender interchangeability in this trilogy. So it is reasonable to take Mark hovering over Daria as Isis & Osiris, here.
Here we have Thomas' match. "No Words" the name of a 1972 Wings song.
And we also have our bomb imagery. Inside the bomb are the words "She * He * It".
So where does Horus come in? During the first scene of the film, at the Black Panther/Student meeting a young man suggests using cars as barricades and mentions his is a Ford Falcon. Horus most often depicted as a falcon.
What's more is that Harrison Ford played a bit part in this film, but his scene was cut. (wiki).
Remember it is Harrison Ford who flies the Millennium Falcon (Aeon of Horus?)
Daria eating an Apple just before hearing on the radio that Mark has been shot & killed by the police.
What I feel there is strong evidence for regarding the plot of the film (but haven't fully gone into here) is that Mark is a figment of Daria's fantasy; she dreamt up Mark and her entire interaction with him, on her way to Phoenix. And as Juli Kearns points out, there is no way she would've had time to hang out with him and make it from LA to Phoenix like she did.
It's obvious Daria imagined the other people engaging in the orgy in the desert, and the blow-up of her boss's house at the end. Actually, I might go so far as to say Daria and Mark are both the figment of Daria's bosses imagination.
Incidentally, the name Daria means Wealth. The Sephirah of Gevurah is attributed to wealth, as well as severity in judgement.
Then of course there's the whole white people fleeing to Death Valley amidst violent racial tension plot. If that wasn't enough, Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin began a relationship together in real life, and joined a Manson-style commune, the leader of which, Mel Lyman, often referred to himself as Jesus Christ. Plus, Mark Frechette was a carpenter when Antonioni found him and cast him in the film. Much like Harrison Ford.
"The Manson Family preached peace and love and went around killing people. We don't preach peace and love." - Mel Lyman
In 1973, Mark Frechette and other members of Lyman's Fort Hill commune robbed a bank in Boston at gun point. Frechette was arrested and sent to prison where he died 2 years later while weight-lifting, at the age of 27.
It's also quite interesting that after Daria left Mark, she married Laurel Canyonite Dennis Hopper, who was close friends with Jack Nicholson. Which brings us to the third film of Antonioni's English trilogy.


The Passenger (1975) really takes things to the Nth degree.
David Locke (Jack Nicholson) is a war correspondent/documentary filmmaker, currently in Africa putting together a piece on rebel militants.
More camel imagery, remember the painting in Thomas' room in Blow-Up. This is a group of militants he is attempting to meet up with. There's a definite desert, and possible Abyss, theme in this trilogy.
After the failed attempt to meet with the militants, and getting stranded in the desert, Locke returns to his hotel. Here, Antonioni first gives us a close-up & slow-pan of these five beetles climbing a wire on his wall - notice one is stuck down at the bottom.
Locke soon discovers that the British man in the next room, David Robertson, whom he'd recently struck up a friendship with, has died. For reasons not explicitly detailed in the film, Locke then decides to assume Robertson's identity and take over his life; while telling the hotel owner it was Locke who died, thus faking his own death.
When Locke drags Robertson's body into his own room, we see the five beetles are still on the electrical wire.
He then switches all of his belongings with Robertson's and finishes the job by swapping passport photos.
He then dons a fake mustache. Even though Robertson did not have one.
Fans of "Paul is dead" should recognize a pattern here. McCartney's curious November '66 trip to Africa, where he sports, for the first time, a mustache. This is when PID believers say the replacement first took over. They also say that when the Sgt. Pepper's reprise is played backwards, one can hear "it was a fake mustache".
They also believe that the passport photo seen in the White Album poster is a photo of the replacement before surgery.
And speaking of Billy Shears, in 1966, Nicholson starred as Billy Spear in The Shooting. Yes, you read that right. The other main character in the film is named Willet, but goes by Will. He also plays his own brother. It also starrs William Hutchins, Charles Eastman and James Campbell, who also plays a witch doctor in The Passenger. The woman in the film is only referred to as The Woman; another theme we will see in The Passenger.
A definite theme of groups of four with one member dying in The Shooting.
Looking through Robertson's itinerary, Locke decides to retrieve the items Robertson had left in an airport locker in Munich.
By the way, the man who plays David Robertson, Charles Mulvehill, produced the film Haorld & Maude. Which starrs Ruth Gordon of Rosemary's Baby and Paul McCartney look-alike Bud Cort, who repeatedly fakes suicide in the film.
Before Munich, Locke swings through London to retrieve some things from his home. Which is just a couple blocks from Thomas' apartment in Blow-Up. Antonioni sure loves that Notting Hill/Kensington area.
While Locke is at a car rental desk in Munich, this Asian woman with large sunglasses stands right next to him for no reason, very conspicuously.
As he's leaving the airport, we see these five VW Beetles parked along the road.
(The 5th one is 6 cars down in the 2nd image).
Now posing as Robertson, Locke meets two of Robinson's contacts, who turn out to be arms dealers involved in the guerilla warfare David was reporting on. Robertson was a weapons supplier, and now Locke is filling his role.
After being given a large sum of money, with a promise of more to come, Locke decides to carry on with Robertson's itinerary and liaisons.
We see in Robertson's datebook, that he has meetings in Spain on September 10th and another on the 11th.
After telling the car rental place that he's going to Spain, Locke removes the fake mustache and places it on this round/orb light fixture.
Days after Lennon left Spain after filming How I Won The War, McCartney went there to visit him, See Dr. Tomoculus' post on that here.
There is also controversy over whether or not McCartney would've even had time to write & record the score for The Family Way, which Dr. Tom lays out here.
Now what else does this film need? Ah yes, David Locke's wife is a redhead.
We are given a flashback of their rocky relationship during a visit she paid while Locke was interviewing and African leader. She told David that he was too acceptant of lies, to which he replied yes, but that those are the rules.
After hearing the news of Locke's 'death', Mrs. Locke soon learns of Mr. Robertson having been the last person to see her husband alive. And with the help of Locke's film producer Martin Knight (think Beatles producer Sir George Martin), she decides to track down Robertson with hopes of learning more about Locke's final days.
Locke discovers that his producer is in Spain looking for Robertson (him) and is even staying in the same hotel. Locke enlists the help of young woman he just met to retrieve his belongings from his hotel room for him, so that he can leave without Martin seeing him.
However, we saw this woman, referred to only as The Girl, earlier in the film; they exchanged glances in a plaza while Locke was in London before heading to Munich. They were at the Brunswick Center, which is located between Tavistock Place and Tavistock Square Gardens.
Martin Knight sees The Girl retrieving 'Robertson's' things and approaches her, she offers to take him to him. Martin then gets into taxi #909, but loses sight of The Girl when the taxi is made to stop for people crossing a crosswalk (think Abbey Road).
Locke tosses this apple in his hands as The Girl tells him that Martin Knight is on his trail.
And again, as she reads the itinerary, we are reminded that there are appointments on September 10th and 11th.
Nobody showed up at the meeting for September 10th. Locke then falls asleep under this orange tree near a dried out aqua duct. Orange trees and dried out aqua ducts are the two themes of Nicholson's next film, Polanski's Chinatown.
We then learn that The Girl is also leading a double life.
An interesting line of Locke's in the film is "I used to be somebody else, but I traded him in." which is used as a tagline on the poster.
The next day, September 11th, Locke decides to make it to his next meeting spot, the Hotel de la Gloria in Osuna, Spain. Beforehand, he urges The Girl not to be present during the meeting and convinces her to take a ferry from Spain to Tangier.
Quite interestingly, William S. Burroughs created his 23 Enigma after talking with a ferry captain who told him how he'd piloted a ferry from Spain to Tangier for 23 years without an accident. His very next trip ended in a fatal accident.
What's more, is The Girl gets on bus 42 to get to the ferry port.

Meanwhile, not only has Locke's wife, along with the police, tracked him down there, but so have the African thugs who captured Robertson's business associate.
Unfortunately for Locke, the thugs got there first and it appears that they kill Locke.
So here on Septemeber 11th, the 2nd David has now fallen.

Remember though it was Solomon who built the Temple of Jerusalem, it was his father David who first conceived the idea. The two pillars of the Temple are equated with Jachin & Boaz, as are the Twin Towers of the WTC.
Notice his appointment on the 11th was to be with Daisy. in 2001:A Space Odyssey, as HAL is being disconnected he sings "Daisy". The Millenium Hilton Hotel, which is modeled after Kubrick's monolith, stood next to the WTC Towers. The Hilton logo is seen prominently in 2001:ASO. Also notice the two airships near the Hilton desk.
One of Locke's flashback scenes begins with this shot of a fire taking up the screen.
When Robertson's accomplice is abducted, it is shot with this fountain taking up the screen.
When the Alchemical symbols for fire & water are united you get a hexagram. The Hebrew word David (DVD) means "to boil".
More with two pillars: it's interesting that when Locke & The Girl first talk, she disappears between these two pillars, one light and one dark, as she says "disappear". At first the viewer does not realize those are two pillars with a space between them.
What is also interesting is that it is likely here that The Girl thought she was meeting Robertson.
They are in a building designed by Gaudi, who was hit by a bus, and was thought to be a homeless person due to his clothing. (mistaken identities).
And, when the African ambassador asks Mrs. Locke if she plans to continue searching for Robertson, she pauses, plays with the accoutrements sitting on his desk, one white, one black, and answers yes.
This trilogy contains a definite black & white theme, but it is most over-abundantly seen in Blow-Up. One particular instance is after Thomas' apartment has been ransacked, he finds the only remaining blown up photo lodged between these white and black cases. Notice the feather is pointing to it.
There's also the odd fascination with airplanes & New York in Zabriskie Point. Yeah, the billboards and the flying planes are the symbolism that both guide mark to thinking of stealing the plane and allude to Mark stealing the plane, but why do both airplane billboards feature New York?
And there was no apparent reason for the scene with the men driving across town, where one mentions New York, immediately before cutting to the American Airlines/NY sign.
And I can't help but notice that as Mark stands in front of the "United to New York" sign, he looks over and we see this shot of a plane flying behind a building, though at first it looks as if it might fly into it.
And remember, it was American Airlines flight 11 and United Airlines flight 175 that crashed into the WTC Towers.
By the way, Locke was staying in room 11 at the hotel in Africa, when Robertson died and he took over his life.
Anyways, as Mrs. Locke and the police arrive at Hotel de la Gloria, the commotion attracts the townspeople, and we see a man coming down the street dressed identically to David Locke, in the maroon polo shirt & light pants. (subtle multiple theme?)
The police arrive and enter Locke's hotel room. Again, we see no blood or bullet holes. The only indication we have that Locke is dead is that we can't see his head, and we're left to assume that's where he was shot, though there's no blood on the wall or bed.
Although, unlike in Blow-Up, we do hear what could ambiguously be taken as a gun shot at one point. Though it is right after a car starts and could be a backfire.
The police ask Mrs. Locke if she recognizes him as David Robertson and she replies, "I never knew him".
They ask The Girl and she simply replies, "Yes."

Interesting that the main characters in Zabriskie Point and The Passenger both die by gunfire (at least theoretically) and are named Mark and David. The possibly-dead man in the park in Blow-Up goes unnamed, but I almost wouldn't be surprised if it was Chapman.

Juli Kearns points out the many 'thread of Ariadne and the Maze of the Minotaur' themes in The Passenger. (The building across from the Hotel de la Gloria is a bullfighting ring, etc). Be sure to read Juli's analysis of The Passenger here:
Which is interesting considering the same Minotaur/Maze themes being present in The Shining.
MKUltrasound adds; There's of course Jack at the maze, Jack calling Wendy "Wendy darling", which is the oldest sibling in Peter Pan, which was a name created for the book. Then there's Pan and Pan's Labyrinth. Jack sings "Danny Boy" when he goes into the maze, the rest of the song is, "the pipes, the pipes are calling." And of course Pan plays the pipes. Also, you can easily make a P into a D, which would make Dan's Labyrinth. And of course the Minotaur poster between the twins in the game room.
And Jack Nicholson's self-written & directed 1979 film Goin' South takes place in a town called Longhorn, Texas.
There's also the sacrificial Apis Bull that is associated with Osiris.
We also have Mark's red nighty from Zabriskie Point, which could be taken as a matador's cape, plus the seemingly pointless close-up on the bull sticker on the seemingly pointless El Dorado.

Now, to the witch doctor we see Locke interview during an earlier flashback scene. He is played by actor James Campbell. Paul McCartney's full name is James Paul McCartney, and remember, according to "PID", Campbell is one of the prominent alleged last names of McCartney's replacement.
But what is most intriguing about his scene is that when Locke begins asking him questions, he replies, "There are perfectly satisfactory answers to all your questions. But I don't think you understand how little you can learn from them. Your questions are much more revealing about yourself than my answers would be about me." The witch doctor then gets up and turns the camera around so that it faces Locke.
Which I find very applicable to the research of things esoteric and conspiratorial, particularly PID.
Kearns has this to say: "David reels back against the rugs behind him, taking a moment to recover his bearings. The tables turned. He, the subject. To make him aware of his own biases and how they manipulate what he sees, though he would count himself as objective and observant."
Boom

In another scene, we hear Locke saying in a tape recording, "People will believe what I write, and why? Because it conforms to their expectations. And to mine as well, which is worse." Which is also applicable when it comes to people believing what they want to believe, and seeing & hearing what they want to see & hear, just like Thomas in Blow-Up.
Can't help but also point out that the film begins with him trying to report on a war that he can't find, which reminds me of PIDers trying to research the whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys and hows of a death which just don't seem to exist.
As I have always said, "The Beatles mysteries, particularly PID, seem to be a quintessential example of chaos magic. And serving as a mirror; what one brings out of them is a reflection upon themselves."

Another scene I find extremely applicable is when The Girl asks Locke what he is going to do now that he's abandoned his family & career. Locke first answers that he will become a waiter in Gibralter, to which she replies, "Too obvious."
He then says he will move to Cairo and write a book, to which she replies, "Too romantic."
Then he goes with the truth and says he's a gunrunner who has just sold a cache of weapons to a group of African militants, to which she replies, "Too unlikely... I like it" and smiles.
What's funny is that the truth is often the most unlikely possibility. It's definitely usually the most interesting. To which The Girl seems to be responding to.
Forget Occam's Razor, sometimes it really is Hoffman's Razor: the most psychedelic explanation is the most likely. (referring to Albert Hoffman, creator of LSD. Term coined by MKUltrasound).

I urge fans of Kubrick to watch these films, as I believe they were a big influence on his post-Strangelove career. When I watch Eyes Wide Shut, I see Kubrick trying to make an Antonioni film; and succeeding.

Finally, I'd like to add that I'm not saying these motifs were definitely put into this trilogy by intention, there's a good chance they weren't. But when taken all together they're quite uncanny, and are at least worth pointing out, I feel.
For more connections between The Beatles and Manson, see the Lennon and Tate posts.

8 comments:

Gerard Tomoculus said...

You also see right with the Bob Dylan poster, two I LOVE HAROLD posters. Which is of course, HAROLD WILSON, prime minister of England at the time. Go over to RHODESIA posting of mine, he shows up again in all this.

woslo w said...

Ah, thanks, yes. I was actually going to link that post here, thanks for reminding me.

tokugawa7 said...

strange attractors... was reading about tara browne last week when I was reading material on Keith Richards... also not too important, but my name is gerard also... lol
I acquired these films quite some time ago and I guess it's time to pay the "piper" and cheggem out. your blog is awesome and I always look forward to your future postings.

woslo w said...

Thanks.
Most people find Antonioni's films slow, but they have me riveted to my seat with all the cinematic language layered symbolism.

Red Dirt Report said...

In a weird bit of synchronicity, Dave Legeno, who played "Fenrir Greyback" the werewolf, in 3 "Harry Potter" movies, was found dead in Death Valley near Zabriskie Point. This weekend, all of the "Harry Potter" films were synchronistically airing on cable.

woslo w said...

Hey Andrew, I had you in mind while putting this post together, with all of it's '66-ness.
Interesting about Legeno. (Almost Leno, as in LaBianca).

Red Dirt Report said...

That's terrific! Thank you! I was having some heavy syncs yesterday and today, and thought I'd throw them out there. Check it out ... http://www.reddirtreport.com/dust-devil-dreams/zagadka

Gretchen Cole said...

I think your blog is so awesome. I enjoy it like any good book. I would love to know your take on the drugs that so heavily influenced the Beatles. The Beatles were a project in my opinion. Part of a great work. Drugs are a huge part of that great work. I would love to hear your spin. I am going to give mine.

I am a 70's baby. I was raised in the 80's so I was at a loss as to who The Beatles really were. I am also Black, so being lost may be an understatement. Learning about Popular Culture is fascinating. I used to think the thought of The Beatles subversion being child's play since I listened to N.W.A.

The thing is with N.W.A., you know exactly what you are getting. Their name says it all. The Beatnik/Beatles assertions were lost on me until I read their bio by Bob Spitz. I read most of it my flights from LA to NY and back. They talked about drugs, but by the time I read it in 2008, Lil Wayne and his cup of syrup or whatever, and thousands of other people who told tales of drugs had desensitized me.

I believe The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to be one work. They are Lucifer Rising. They were a cultural atom bomb. So much more and nothing less. I would love to hear your spin on how high these cats had to be.