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Siskoid's avatar


Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966) begins what I will call my Boredom Trilogy, not because I think any of the following films are boring, but because they are all quiet, artful, slow-moving films that deal with boredom or stillness in some way. And yes, because I think many WILL find them boring. I'm a whole other animal, however. (Note that I didn't watch them in sequence on purpose, I was just pulling stuff off the shelf alphabetically!) So Blow-Up is a repertoire film that I'd hear about in film class long ago, but had never seen. It wasn't what I was expecting. David Hemmings stars as a Swinging 60s photographer who (I must say, eventually) takes candid shots of Vanessa Redgrave in a park. She desperately wants the photos, and he discovers, by blowing them up, clues to a murder. While that's the plot, most of the film feels essentially plotless, with many tableaux evoking still photography, and scenes that cause the film critic on the commentary track throw up his hands in defeat. They work for me though. The film is in many ways about the reliability of images. Things are consistently taken out of context to see if they still have meaning (the blown-up detail, the piece of guitar, the propeller) and the film is itself an image (albeit a moving one) that proves unreliable. Things are not well explained and by its dearth of dialog, the characters don't give up their secrets. It's the point of mimes at the end who share an unreal perception (an invisible ball) the Hemmings character eventually adopts. And at the heart of this unreliable image is the youth culture of the Swinging 60s, shown in the film to be superficial though sought after. Why does the Hemmings character go into an antiques store, and why does the shopkeeper tell him nothing's for sale? It's part of the character's quest to find meaning in his life, something the pure image of his culture has not given him (and he's not the only character looking to get out of that London). He looks for meaning in the old, but the past is also denied him, just as evidence of the murder also disappears. It's the kind of movie that is mystifying while you watch, but the reveals itself afterwards, and I could literally do a sequence-by-sequence or even frame-by-frame analysis of it.
6 years 11 months ago
God's avatar


how come he didn't hear the gunshot?
8 years 7 months ago
K.'s avatar


Statements by Michelangelo Antonioni on Blow-Up

"In 'Blow-Up,' a lot of energy was wasted by people trying to decide if there was a murder, or wasn't a murder, when in fact the film was not about a murder but about a photographer. Those pictures he took were simply one of the things that happened to him, but anything could have happened to him: He was a person living in that world, possessing that personality."

"In my other films, I have tried to probe the relationship between one person and another--most often, their love relationship, the fragility of their feelings, and so on. But in this film, none of these themes matters. Here, the relationship is between an individual and reality--those things that are around him. There are no love stories in this film, even though we see relations between men and women. The experience of the protagonist is not a sentimental nor an amorous one but rather, one regarding his relationship with the world, with the things he finds in front of him. He is a photographer. One day, he photographs two people in a park, an element of reality that appears real. And it is. But reality has a quality of freedom about it that is hard to explain. This film, perhaps, is like Zen; the moment you explain it, you betray it. I mean, a film you can explain in words, is not a real film."
4 years 4 months ago
Big A2's avatar

Big A2

@ClassicLady: This is hardly representative of the whole decade's output.
10 years 5 months ago
Cornelius P.'s avatar

Cornelius P.

Pretty good little movie, although I was somewhat disappointed with the simplistic ending that apparently amazed several cinephiles I've discussed with; I guess I expected a more conscious approach from my fellow colleague Michelangelo.

Thank you.
10 years ago
dajmasta94's avatar


Was expecting a murder mystery and got a whole hell of a lot more. There's so many layers to this, It's a film that leaves you thinking about it long after viewing and I look forward to revisiting it and mulling it over again and again. To anyone that watches this and is baffled by it's inclusion of a plot and subsequent lack of focus on that plot...Pay attention to how all of these side threads mirror the themes of reality vs interpretation and the blending of those two things by way of art. It's quite beautiful.
4 years 1 month ago
Jumping Elephant's avatar

Jumping Elephant

Mind-blowing cinema.
11 years 5 months ago
Dieguito's avatar


Mind blowing Antonioni indeed! Just how I like it!
9 years 9 months ago
carpetdemon's avatar


I've heard this is the movie where the archetype fashion photographer comes from. Is archetype the right word here? Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
Also, a great movie that you don't have to watch the whole way through to thoroughly enjoy. It's my type of film.
11 years 2 months ago
Clintmwells's avatar


Some very beautiful and thought provoking imagery. The Yardbirds scene is very fascinating.

But ultimately, the many reviews claiming this film is long and boring are unfortunately accurate.

It's worth a single viewing if only for the snapshot of the 60's. 5/10
5 years 11 months ago
CaptYamato's avatar


Watched it last night. Great film. Wasn't expecting it to be so entertaining.
11 years ago
nicolaskrizan's avatar


the closer you get, the less you see

10 years 7 months ago
Warrison's avatar


for me there was to much focus on everything but the story and was left with an 'empty' feeling.
10 years 9 months ago
kurvduam's avatar


(removed by mod: please post in English)
5 years 11 months ago
chryzsh's avatar


One of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life.
6 years 8 months ago

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