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Blow Up

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Yesterday we watched Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film Blowup which Daniel has on a DVD. Being the movie non-buff that I am, I hadn’t heard of the film or the director before. They both seem to be quite famous, though. And the film must have been quite a scandal at the time, containing things like nudity, drug use and gay people with poodles. About a second of each, so it’s tamer than a commercial break in afternoon television these days and the scandal is difficult to understand who aren’t old enough to have lived back then.

The photographer taking Photos in the studio. Nice dress... Luckily the film isn’t just about those ‘scandalous’ scenes. It also has a cool – and very simple – story: The protagonist, a nameless photographer, takes photos in a park, taking pictures of a man and a woman in the process. The woman tries really hard to get hold of those photos, which makes the photographer curious and after making numerous blowups and looking really hard, he realises that a murder has taken place in the distance. He even goes back and sees the dead body. But eventually both his photos and the body are gone and he realises that he has no ‘evidence’ whatsoever to convince anybody of what he saw.

Seeing old films is always great because they have really long scenes with few cuts. You actually follow people around a lot more. What was particularly remarkable in this one were the scenes where the photographer looks over his prints and tries to understand what’s going on. It’s literally minutes of nothing happening but the camera filming large black and white prints. Zooming in, and looking at another photo at times in an attempt to reconstruct the situation. Despite sounding boring, it wasn’t. Great filming.

Other things I liked are the whole photography setup, complete with making prints – because I’ve done that myself recently. And of course seeing The Yardbirds play in the film!

After watching the film, we immediately re-watched about half of it, because the DVD contained an extra sound track which contained commentary by some film professor. I didn’t like many parts of it, as I’m not a big fan of over-analysing films. Particularly as I found it to be over-analysed in many areas I didn’t care for and not answering the questions I actually had. On the other hand, the commentary also pointed out details that we missed when just watching it or pointing out how certain scenes were considered scandalous at the time.

Photo detail from park

What next? Antonioni has made many other films. Which are worth watching? I am really tempted to see Eros now – directed by Steven Soderbergh, Michelangelo Antonioni and Wong Kar Wai – which I already considered when looking around for more of Wong Kar Wai’s films.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

April 17, 2005, 16:44

Tagged as blow up, david hemmings, film, jane birkin, michelangelo antonioni, photography, vanessa redgrave.


Comment by Udo: User icon

“Zabriskie Point” my favourite Antonioni movie. Set in the late sixties in California. Soundtrack with pieces by Jerry Garcia, the Dead and Pink Floyd. But better to be watched on a big movie theatre screen. Soon to be rereleased: http://rogerwatersonline.com/rogerwatersnews/2nd12200403.htm If you only can watch it on the DVD (I really do hope it will get rereleased the theatres and DVD outside the US too) ask someone who has a beamer or very large TV set …

April 17, 2005, 21:19

Comment by d.w.: User icon

I enjoyed “l’Avventura” when I saw it in college, though having seen it 15 years ago I remember almost nothing in the way of detail. I saw it right around the time I saw “Blow Up”…

April 18, 2005, 1:05

Comment by d.w.: User icon

Forgot to mention, if you’ve never seen Coppola’s “The Conversation”, it does the same thing for audio clips that “Blow Up” does for photos… excellent performance from Gene Hackman.

April 18, 2005, 1:07

Comment by gummi: User icon

Red Desert and The Passenger are excellent films. And another vote for L’Avventura (and The Conversation).

April 18, 2005, 18:31

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