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Thursday, May 20, 2010

BLOW UP. Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni / Script Study

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Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s first English-language production was also his only box office hit, widely considered one of the seminal films of the 1960s. Thomas (David Hemmings) is a nihilistic, wealthy fashion photographer in mod “Swinging London.” Filled with ennui, bored with his “fab” but oddly-lifeless existence of casual sex and drug use, Thomas comes alive when he wanders through a park, stops to take pictures of a couple embracing, and upon developing the images, believes that he has photographed a murder. Pursued by Jane (Vanessa Redgrave), the woman who is in the photos, Thomas pretends to give her the pictures, but in reality, he passes off a different roll of film to her. Thomas returns to the park and discovers that there is, indeed, a dead body lying in the shrubbery: the gray-haired man who was embracing Jane. Has she murdered him, or does Thomas’ photo reveal a man with a gun hiding nearby? Antonioni’s thriller is a puzzling, existential, adroitly-assembled masterpiece. –allmovieguide



Michelangelo Antonioni

Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni redefined the concept of narrative cinema, challenging the accepted notions at the heart of storytelling, realism, drama, and the world at large; his films – a seminal body of enigmatic and intricate mood pieces – rejected action in favor of contemplation, championing image and design over character and story. Haunted by a sense of instability and impermanence, his work defined a cinema of possibilities, a shifting landscape of thoughts and ideas devoid of resolution; in Antonioni’s world, riddles were not answered, but simply evaporated into other riddles.

Antonioni was born on September 29, 1912, in Ferrara, Italy; as a child, his interests included painting and building architectural models (an interest which continued in the design and decor of his films). After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Bologna, where he initially studied classics but later emerged with a degree in economics. While he was at college… read more


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Nigel Mallet


“Blow Up ” is a useful example of a film that leads us to interpret it somewhat differently to the conventional, narrative based, clearly structured, rational, logocentric Classical Hollywood Narrative Mode of cinema. “Blow Up ” tends to be both dynamic and ambiguous within its sjuchet. It has an uncertain narrative development leading to an uncertain, incomplete conclusion for an unresolved problem, and it contains spontaneous “happenings” of drugs, sex and nightclub life which do not have any direct connection to the fabula’s progress. Specific elements of its characterization, mis-en-scene and structure, leave the film asking: “What is reality?” “Can I prove reality, if I have lost my methods of proving it?” “Is it possible and/or worthwhile?” . “Blow Up” demonstrates the interpretation of reality and illusion by an audience with an incommensurable singularity from its beginning. Cross-cutting between a group of mimes, noisily driving in a Jeep and the protagonist, Thomas (David Hemmings), as he emerges from a doss house with a group of ragged men, his camera concealed in a paper bag. As the clowns run amuck in the streets of London, Thomas sneaks away to his Rolls Royce. This apparently random contradiction in Thomas’ character informs us that he is not a ‘bum’, but a rich photographer in disguise. This is made more dynamic by the presence of the mimes, which share Thomas’ world of illusion -both act to create illusions for artistic achievements. The lack of knowledge of characters is perhaps most disturbing in light of Vanessa Redgrave's character: ‘The Girl’, who is defined primarily by her involvement in the murder. We have no idea who she is, what her relationship is with ‘The Man’, or how/why she is involved with/in the murder(er). Overall, the result sees the narrative lose its way in trying to pursue the images of Thomas’ objects, and experiences. Essentially, the film is ‘in pursuit of images’, a commodification of Thomas’ experiences. The visual/aesthetic value of the image takes precedence over and has a superior “worth” to Antonioni, than the spoken/written texts contained with the film. Unlike classical narrative cinema, it works less on the notions of cause and effect:

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Really cool early appearance of Jimmy Page, for fans

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Liam Seeland


The park-scene is my favorite in this movie. It is so quiet. And of course the photoshoots. And when he sees the gunman in the photo. And pretty much the whole movie itself. Brilliant.

Marcus Hart

Marcus Hart


Totally puts you in the period of swinging london. The mystery is dense, and the pacing plays well to the eroticism.

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Our roundup of essays and articles on this film.

Video Sundays: The Modern Charade

By Daniel Kasman on November 15, 2009
read article

The Forgotten: The End of History

By David Cairns on June 18, 2009
"There are no friends anymore." In August 1967, filmmaker Richard Lester's chauffeur called at the home of playwright Joe Orton to collect him for a script conference about a Rolling Stones musical
read article

The Forgotten: Faces

By David Cairns on June 4, 2009
THE THREE FACES OF EVE I tre volti (Three Faces of a Woman, 1965) is, among other things, the Antonioni film you're least likely to have seen, the Bolognini film you're least likely to have seen (a
read article

The Forgotten: The Perishables

By David Cairns on May 21, 2009
VINYL FLOORING Robert Freeman's 1968 "film" The Touchables never had any reason to exist except to capture some cellophane idea of the zeitgeist, and yet it continues to exist, barely, in bootleg tapes
read article

The Forgotten: Phantom Philm

By David Cairns on April 2, 2009
THE CAMERA NEVER FLIES A squat black ruin lours from a massy clifftop. Ridiculously fake wind effects whoop and whoosh beneath the throbbing music as a lone jalopy rattles along a narrow path
read article


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By Rui on February 26, 2010

Antonioni treading water. It is influential (De Palma’s “Blowout” and Coppola’s “The Conversation” wouldn’t exist without it), but ultimatly pointless. It tricks you into thinking that it has a deeper… read review


By morita on November 21, 2009

Esta es una de esas películas que le sirven al cine para hacerse más grande y complejo. Es un aporte al cine. En el mundo que éste abarca, dentro de toda su extensión, hay un espacio en el que los… read review


By Joseph Wallace on August 28, 2009

To people who have trouble with this film:

It’s simple and not overly complex, so there’s the good news.

It’s a film about individual perspective. Seeing what you want to see e.t.c. And… read review


By Sam Cooper on June 7, 2009

People are going to give me shit for this, so here goes nothing . . .

What a let down. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this film for a while so I decided to rent it from my college’s library… read review


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Swinging London

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