A Turning Point in Cinema

VANISHING POINT
Richard C. Sarafian, 1971

Vanishing Point is one of the most influential movies of all time. It even inspired a bunch of “car movies,” most notably Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. Audioslave’s music video for their song Show Me How To Live is a homage to Vanishing Point. Primal Scream even has an album named “Vanishing Point,” which includes a song called Kowalski (named after the film’s lead character).

Along with 1968’s Bullitt, Vanishing Point was one of those films that pioneered the “car movie” genre in cinema.

Plot: Kowalski works for a car delivery service. He takes delivery of a 1970 Dodge Challenger to take from Colorado to San Fransisco, California. Shortly after pickup, he takes a bet to get the car there in less than 15 hours.

Aside from the film’s adrenaline-pumping car chase sequences, the other element that attracted me to Vanishing Point is the breathtaking cinematography (courtesy of John A. Alonzo). While Kowalski takes us on a high-speed ride, the film’s cinematography lets you slow down and sigh in admiration.

Barry Newman adds more enigma to the mysterious Kowalski. I can also imagine Steve McQueen in the role of Kowalski, but the casting of Barry Newman as the lead character in Vanishing Point is perfect. Newman is not really a big star, and that fact is an advantage for the Kowalski character. Newman’s charisma makes the audience want to know more about Kowalski. He’s like a stranger you want to have a conversation with.
The 1970 Dodge Challenger used in the film

The film’s soundtrack is very good. So ’70s, so hippie. Kim Carnes’ Nobody Knows describes the film’s ending very well (“‘Til the light of life stops burnin’, ’til another soul goes free“).

My rating: 3.5/5 – Vanishing Point is an exhilarating ride. It deserves its cult status.

Trailer for Vanishing Point:

DISCLAIMER: No copyright infringement intended. I don’t own or claim to own any of the photos used.

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