Fast Film Friday: Vanishing Point

One of the greatest car movies ever filmed was 1971’s Vanishing Point. The basic plot of the movie is simple. Kowalski is a car delivery driver, who leads police on a chase across four states. He’s made a bet that he can deliver the supercharged 1970 Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours (while high on speed). Reminiscent of today’s concept of ‘going viral’, the police chase to capture Kowalski attracts national attention. Initially, local DJ Supersoul reports on Kowalski’s progress across the US Southwest, and later in the movie, national TV and media arrive on scene. Through flashbacks, it is revealed that Kowalski is a former police officer, a motorcycle speedway rider and a stock car racer, who has faced tragedy throughout his life. It is only speed that gives the anti-hero a sense of release from a world he seems to see as largely meaningless.

While the film is a car chase flick, social issues of the late 60s and early 70s are explored throughout Kowalski’s journey. Fringe religious cults, homophobia, police brutality, racism, and oppression are explored…many of the problems which continue to plague society today, 50 years later.

“…the last American hero, to whom speed means freedom of the soul…”

DJ Supersoul

Any motoring enthusiast has at some point wanted to do what Kowalski did. Break all the rules of society that keep everyone caged up with traffic laws and speed limits. Just drive like it’s the last day on earth. Who wouldn’t want to live out that ultimate speed freak fantasy of speeding down the highway with nothing to worry about except the next gas station.

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