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Vanishing Point

Where to Watch Vanishing Point

PG
1971

Vanishing Point is an iconic American action film released in 1971, which has since been revered as a cult classic. The film was directed masterly by Richard C. Sarafian with screenplay by Guillermo Cain. The protagonist is played by Barry Newman, with significant co-stars including Cleavon Little and Charlotte Rampling.

Newman's character, Kowalski, is a man of few words with a mysterious past. His persona is imbued with rebellious spirit and anti-hero charm. Kowalski is a Vietnam War Veteran, ex-race car driver, and former police officer who now works as a car delivery driver – a multifaceted character layered with complexity, laced with tragedy and fused with an uncanny sense of invincibility. This is the man behind the wheel in this high-octane chase movie about freedom, rebellion and the existential quest for meaning.

Vanishing Point is set in diasporic America, with long stretches of highway that project a sense of vastness and alienation. The story is set in motion when Kowalski takes a bet to deliver a 1970 Dodge Challenger from Colorado to San Francisco in less than 15 hours. This premise sets the stage for a thrilling non-stop car chase that is punctuated with encounters with different sections of American society. Kowalski's journey is not just geographical; it is also philosophical and metaphorical, transforming the film into a cultural analysis as well and handling existential themes.

Cleavon Little's character, Super Soul, a blind radio DJ who Kowalski befriends, stands as an impressive counterpoint to Kowalski’s silent, stoic character. Super Soul becomes the auditory guide for Kowalski, using his radio show to communicate police locations and guide him through the numerous roadblocks. Their unconventional friendship and the dynamic interplay between these contrasting characters enhance the film’s motifs of rebellion and freedom.

Charlotte Rampling portrays a mysterious hitchhiker encountered by Kowalski on his perilous venture, adding an ethereal quality to the harsh reality of the chase. She deepens the philosophical discourse of the film and raises questions about Kowalski's past and future, hinting at the metaphysical dimensions of his journey.

The cinematography of the film is commendable. The wide, endless landscapes amplify the feeling of alienation. The film's visual effects, especially the car chases, stunts and dust-raising races are gripping, and Sarafian masterfully employs them to reflect Kowalski's fight against the systems and norms.

Much like its protagonist, Vanishing Point is full of rebellious spirit. The film’s storytelling challenges conventional narrative forms. It begins in medias res and uses a non-linear narrative, which lends a unique viewing experience- shifting between past and present, details about Kowalski's past are gradually disclosed. It creates an intriguing element of suspense and positions Kowalski as a complex character driven by a sense of purpose and guided by his own, unique code.

The soundtrack of Vanishing Point is exceptional, a fusion of rock, soul, and blues that masterfully compliments the film's atmosphere. The music not only heightens the action sequences but also syncs seamlessly with the thought-provoking dialogues and moments of tranquil silence. Like a hidden character, the music significantly contributes to the storytelling and mood of the film, keeping the audience engaged and the narrative flowing.

Vanishing Point is more than an action-chase movie. Blurring the lines between physical freedom and psychological emancipation, the movie is a reflection on the American dream and its contradictions. It’s a film about a man, his machine, and his indomitable spirit to resist and escape the conformities and constraints of society. It’s about how one man’s chase against the clock transforms into a chase for freedom, defying the norms of society and the law.

It brilliantly captures a specific zeitgeist that marks a period of political and social upheaval in 1970s America. Though characterized by high-speed car races and thrilling stunts, the movie is also deeply introspective, revealing layers and depths to its characters and implications to its storyline. It’s a groove-filled, dusty, and adrenaline-pumping road trip that transcends the open road. Thus, for anyone who appreciates cinema that seamlessly combines high-speed action with a profound philosophical undercurrent, Vanishing Point offers an enduring and impactful experience.

Vanishing Point is a Action, Crime, Drama movie released in 1971. It has a runtime of 106 min. (approx.). Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.2. It also holds a MetaScore of 61.

How to Watch Vanishing Point

Where can I stream Vanishing Point movie online? Vanishing Point is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Google Play. Some platforms allow you to rent Vanishing Point for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

7.2/10
61/100
Also starring Cleavon Little
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