Listen to the lost Pink Floyd soundtrack created for Michelangelo Antonioni film ‘Zabriskie Point’
Michelangelo Antonioni only ever ventured into the world of American filmmaking once in his career, for 1970 effort Zabriskie Point which was not only panned by critics, it was also a commercial disaster with the film’s only saving grace being a stellar soundtrack provided by Pink Floyd.
Antonioni was an esteemed filmmaker in his native Italian tongue, but when he tried to transition to the world glitz and glamour of Hollywood it was nothing short of a calamity from start to finish. It took over four years for Zabriskie Point to reach the screen from when pre-production began and over 18 after filming began. The budget forthe project became stretched over the delays with it being estimated to have surpassed $7million in total.
At the time of release, Roger Ebert panned the film in the Chicago Sun Times, writing: “The director who made Monica Vitti seem so incredibly alone is incapable, in Zabriskie Point, of making his young characters seem even slightly together. Their voices are empty; they have no resonance as human beings. They don’t play to each other, but to vague narcissistic conceptions of themselves. They wouldn’t even meet were it not for a preposterous Hollywood coincidence.”
The film only managed to recoup a fraction of that budget back at the box office, taking home a mere $1 million which spelt an end to Antonioni’s career in America. However, there was one thing from the film that still lasts the test of time today and that is the incredible soundtrack which the Italian filmmaker commissioned from Pink Floyd which was never given its own release despite its magnificence.
The filmmaker was actually offered ‘L’America’ by The Doors when the band were in the studio for L.A. Woman. However, the track wasn’t to Antonioni’s taste so he instead rejected their offer. His girlfriend, Clare Peploe, played a huge part in Antonioni choosing Pink Floyd to score the film after he heard her copy of Ummagumma which he then became infatuated with.
The band, thankfully, agreed to his request to score the soundtrack but Antonioni, being Antonioni, meant that only three songs that the English band made for him ended up in the film. He instead filled out the soundtrack with music by Fahey, The Youngbloods, Roy Orbison, The Grateful Dead, Patti Page and more.
Unsurprisingly, because of Zabriskie Point arrived as a major flop, there was no appetite at the time for the complete recording of the original the Pink Floyd soundtrack to be commercially released and, subsequently, has only existed in dissonate sporadically released pieces.
It’s an interesting insight to hear these songs that were never given the audience they deserved at the time because of the film being so disastrous especially as that early Gilmour era of the band was such a formative time in their history as they transitioned into the Floyd that we all know and love.
Check out the 12-track YouTube playlist of the tracks Pink Floyd created for Antonioni, below.