Vanishing Point (1971)

Director Richard C. Sarafian (from an interview posted at Some Came Running):

And so that was taken, again, from a concept that’s maybe a little bit too esoteric, in terms of a German mathematician by the name of Möbius who wrote about time as a strip; he took a ribbon and twisted it and then tied the ends together; what you get is an elliptical band.  So that the end of it, that there is no end to the road, that we go on, and to another dimension maybe.  So it’s very hopeful, maybe, very spiritual kind of–as far as that.  [Then studio head] Richard Zanuck said to me, “Richard, does he die in the end?”  I told him, I said, “Mr. Zanuck, it depends on your…your view.”  There was a second ending that was never added, which he wouldn’t accept.  And that ending was that when Kowalski heads for the crack between the two bulldozers…it was soundless.  And visually it’s the same, but Super Soul goes, “Yeah,” and celebrates the moment.  So when he screened the picture, he said “Oh, Richard, he’s got to die.”  I said, “Well, OK, Mr. Zanuck.” And I think the spirit, at least in terms of what I wanted to say was, you know, as Kim Carnes sings in the end credits, “Nobody knows, nobody sees, till the light of life is ended and another soul goes free.”  Now, if I tried to explain that to the head of a studio, they’d throw a net over you. So for me it was like sneaking under the tent while the devil had his back turned. What I think is that maybe I’ve allowed the audience to see it through their own prism in terms of what it’s about, you know.

Screenwriter, novelist and Cuban exile Gabriel Cabrera Infante (from an interview with the Paris Review):

What the spectator sees on the screen is the mirror image of my screenplay. Vanishing Point is my script as seen on the white mirror of the screen, in De Luxe color, at an aspect ratio of 1:85, running at twenty-four frames per second, in stereo sound—much more than I ever wrote or could write. That’s a movie. I just wrote the screenplay. Thanks to John Alonzo, a cinematographer of genius, my screenplay is now a piece of Americana, a cult film, and a very successful movie. I wrote a motion picture about a man with a problem in a car. My director made a movie about a man in a car with problems. Cars in the film are actors and the movie may be taken as a paean to cars or to death by car. By the way, I don’t drive.


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