Blow-Up (1966)
May 16, 2016 7:59 PM - Subscribe

A mod London photographer seems to find something very suspicious in the shots he has taken of a mysterious beauty in a desolate park.

NYTimes: This is a fascinating picture, which has something real to say about the matter of personal involvement and emotional commitment in a jazzed-up, media-hooked-in world so cluttered with synthetic stimulations that natural feelings are overwhelmed. It is vintage Antonioni fortified with a Hitchcock twist, and it is beautifully photographed in color.

Roger Ebert: Antonioni has described the disappearance of his hero as his "signature." It reminds us too of Shakespeare's Prospero, whose actors "were all spirits, and are melted into air." "Blow-Up" audaciously involves us in a plot that promises the solution to a mystery, and leaves us lacking even its players.

Slant: In many ways, this is the best film ever made about movies, because Antonioni recognizes the fragile nature of celluloid and the need to preserve great images. Which is why the film is to profoundly moving—by film's end, Antonioni sadly suggests that one day Blowup won't exist (or mean anything to anyone) if it doesn't continue to be seen, or if its meaning isn't blown-up.

The Guardian: Blow-Up is a film about a particular moment in the capital's history. It was made in London in 1966, which aficionados of 60s pop culture will recognise as the absolute perfect place and time. Imagine walking into a small club and witnessing that incendiary performance by the Yardbirds. Astonishingly, the Who, Tomorrow and even the Velvet Underground had been considered for the role. And look – the audience includes a young Michael Palin, and Janet Street Porter in a homemade silver dress.

But it also has enduring appeal, thanks to the music (Herbie Hancock's groovy jazz deserves a special mention), the director's ambivalence towards the subject matter and the "beautiful people", who are also repellent. It also reveals an enduring truth about London, my home town: it's never truly knowable. Who knows what goes on in the park hedgerows, in the converted warehouses, behind that nightclub door, where there's always someone hipper than you?


Blow-up: Behind the most famous film on photograpy
posted by MoonOrb (3 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I saw this a few years back (2-3) and I hated it.
But I agree with The Guardian review fully.
posted by Mezentian at 4:23 AM on May 18, 2016

I love this movie so so much. I have seen it so many times over the years. The underlying creeping dread throughout is masterful, and it's such a wonderful snapshot of a time and place.
posted by biscotti at 4:00 PM on May 18, 2016

I saw this movie. I liked it a lot, the directing is so clean and easy, as smooth and skilled as the background jazz. By reputation, I was expecting something a lot crazier. I was expecting psychedelics and I got neorealism and I loved it.

It seems mild, now. I personally don't care anything about the specificity of the setting. London in 1966 is not really so special for one, but for another things are less shocking now. Antonioni invites us to gawp at seeing some young people smoking pot in a party, but who watches it now who hasn't participated in that or opened a door on a similar scene. Ultimately it's no different from teenagers drinking Natty Lite by a cornfield. It can be seen for what it is and what already was.

And like what Ebert says in his review, the thing that jumps out of the screen now is the misogyny.

David Hemmings is so striking in this. He scampers around with his starving eyes, ravenous and dissatisfied. He's a big asshole. He runs all over this cramped studio and around the city, the camera tracks him so effortlessly that it is exhausting to think about all the invisible work. Our hero wants to capture and possess, but gets bored with owning things before he really owns it. But he can't get the truth, he can't see and know everything.

I'm a bit shocked at how much The Conversation is the same damn movie. But they're both so well done and different enough that I don't care.
posted by fleacircus at 4:23 PM on September 30, 2021

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