Implosions and the Pleasure of Destruction
November 21, 2002 8:53 AM   Subscribe

All Fall Down: Remember the famous explosion sequence in Antonioni's Zabriskie Point? Fiona Villela says: "Flying toward the viewer, these many shards of shiny bits and pieces that once served a utilitarian purpose when part of a greater object here exist in and of themselves in a purely dazzling spectacle. This is the only way Antonioni can see the beauty of American capitalism, as a rainbow of shattered objects lost in space and time. ". What is the (undeniable) pleasure of watching big structures, that took years to build, destroyed in a few seconds? And has September 11 taken the fun out of implosion voyeurism? [Via memepool; original post by yoyology; Real required.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There was a great show going on here in DC at the corner of C and New Jersey, SE, a block from the Capitol. A large building was being town down the old-fashioned way, with a crane and wrecking ball. Every day at lunch, a crowd of about 15 men (they were all men) gathered to watch it. Lots of loud bangs and clouds of brick dust and falling debris--very exciting!

But, yes, I did have a few pangs of guilt. I couldn't help but be reminded of the buildings that went down on September 11. I still watched, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:09 AM on November 21, 2002

Duh, re-reading my post it looks like it's about some article on the aesthetics or morality of destruction and not a link to an excellent demolition industry website, which it is. Talk about implosions... ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:17 AM on November 21, 2002

The mentioned scene is a prime example of a "period piece"........and a product of too much pot.
posted by anathema at 9:22 AM on November 21, 2002

and a product of too much pot.

And how.

If I started smoking pot right this second and didn't stop inhaling til the day I died, I still wouldn't be as stoned as Antonioni surely was when he produced that piece of crunk.

But cool link, Miguel, thanks!
posted by dhoyt at 9:32 AM on November 21, 2002

has September 11 taken the fun out of implosion voyeurism?

Hell, NO! I'm always up for watching a building fall down (on purpose, with no people inside).
posted by five fresh fish at 9:37 AM on November 21, 2002

Hell, NO! I'm always up for watching a building fall down (on purpose, with no people inside).

Which reminds me of yesterday's urban exploration (and detroit ruins link) post, which reminds me of the old school I watched get torn down several years ago, with the old-fasioned wrecking ball. There's nothing like watching bats fly out of their collapsing home.
posted by angry modem at 9:45 AM on November 21, 2002

It's like the sound of breaking glass. I love implosions. I bumped into this site a few days ago and had lots of fun. I don't connect it with September 11, perhaps because I've always enjoyed the spectacular images, but mostly because it (9/11 - 11/9) didn't happen in my back yard. But for other folks it may be different of course; trigger an emotion, bring back memories.
posted by ginz at 10:57 AM on November 21, 2002

and god forbid any emotions be triggered or memories be um, re-memoried...
posted by quonsar at 11:08 AM on November 21, 2002

dhoyt - 'If I started smoking pot right this second and didn't stop inhaling til the day I died, I still wouldn't be as stoned as Antonioni surely was...'
are you saying Antonioni was a lightweight?
it is definately the best bit of the film, which seems to get repeated on bbc1 oft of late. kind of like watching a few minutes of koyanaaskatsi (sp.?)
fred dibnah local hero and demolition expert has blown up hundreds of buildings over the years (many recorded for the pleasure of the television viewing public). he has now turned to less explosive pursuits.
caution, dibnah website mostly pointless, silly
posted by asok at 12:37 PM on November 21, 2002

Nevertheless, Fahey wrote and recorded a new solo-guitar piece for Antonioni, who expressed great delight with it. But the music was never used. According to Fahey, he and Antonioni got into a heated argument over dinner one night in Rome; Fahey says Antonioni was expounding on the evel and decadence of the United States. The exchange escalated to fisticuffs. " And," writes Fahey, "I decked him."

Also, Zabriskie Point was the film for which the phrase It Blowed Up Real Good was coined.
posted by y2karl at 2:07 PM on November 21, 2002

And speaking of imploding--Mark Frechette. Note the Mel Lyman connection. You're six degrees of y2karl again!
posted by y2karl at 2:12 PM on November 21, 2002

From here, more Fahey on Antonioni: well as the persistent chronic insomnia that made him one of the first people to receive a prescription for Quaaludes when they were introduced in the '60's. Fahey had just begun to take his Quaaludes when the Italian director, Michaelangelo Antonioni, flew him over to Rome to record music for the soundtrack of Zabriskie Point.

Antonioni's conceptual sequel to Blow-Up is an Italian leftist's goofball cinematic view of late '60s American counterculture. It features a long sequence with nude couples making love in the desert, for which Antonioni wanted Fahey to do the music. When Fahey arrived in Rome, Antonioni showed him the segment in a screening room. "Antonioni says, 'What I want you to do is to compose some music that will go along with the porno scene.' I kept saying, 'Yes, sir.' Then he starts this, 'Now, John. This is young love. Young love.' I mean, that's young love? All these bodies? 'Young love. But John, it's in the desert, where's there's death. But it's young love.' He kept going, 'Young Love/Death' faster and faster. I was sure I was talking to a madman. I'm still sure I was.

"So I experimented. I had instrumentalists come in and told them just to play whatever they felt like. They had to pretend to understand what I was talking about, especially if Antonioni came in the room. That was fun. They were very cooperative. I came up with some sections of music that sounded more like death than young love. It was actually pretty ominous. I played it for Michaelangelo and he thought it was great. So he took me out to dinner at this really fancy restaurant and started telling me how horrible the United States was. We were drinking a lot of wine and I don't remember which one of us started cussing. It started real fast and ended in a fistfight. You have no idea how much that guy hates the United States. What a jerk. I did like 20-25 minutes, but they only used about two minutes. Somebody's driving along in the car and the announcer says, 'And now some John Fahey.' And that's it -- young love and death.

posted by y2karl at 2:20 PM on November 21, 2002

Zabriskie Point has a terrible plot, and an above average soundtrack, but the explosions are amazing.

Which makes it 30 years ahead of it's time, if you ask me...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:40 PM on November 21, 2002

Nor do I ever concern myself with introducing "themes" into my films; I detest films that have a "message." I simply try to tell, or more precisely, show certain vicissitudes that take place, then hope they will hold the viewer's interest no matter how much bitterness they may reveal. Life is not always happy and one must have the courage to look at it from all sides.

Michelangelo Antonioni

Zabriskie is one of his weaker movies -- and that tells you something, lesser directors could build a whole career around it

Check out Mastroianni and Moureau in La Notte

Vitti and Ferzetti in L'Avventura

Or, simply, Blow Up's meta-tennis game in the park

At 90, he's still one of the coolest film directors

You just don't fuck
with Antonioni

You just don't fuck
with il maestro
posted by matteo at 4:37 PM on November 21, 2002

Vegas is great for implosions. I saw the Dunes go down from up close.
posted by rushmc at 4:49 PM on November 21, 2002

Thanks for the luscious links/degrees y2karl and Matteo!

Byw, my favourite Antonionis (this week) are The Mystery of Oberwald and The Passenger. ZP is his weakest but I still love it; it gets better.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:32 PM on November 21, 2002

I've never quite worked up the nerve to rent Z-point and sit down to watch. Any recommendations on appropriate pharmacological snacks to go with? ;o)
posted by alumshubby at 7:41 PM on November 21, 2002

I like to watch.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:31 PM on November 21, 2002

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