The Attempted Review of Blow Up

Posted by WhenYourGodGivesYouLemons On 10:10 PM


One of the perks of my Uni course is that I get to watch a whole bunch of random movies that sometimes I'd miss. Case in point Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blow Up.

What it's all about... David Hemmings plays Thomas a photographer who is heavily part of the 60's mod scene in London. Whilst preparing photos for a book he is about to release Thomas stumbles upon what looks like a normal couple in the park. Feeling it will provide a nice finish to the book Thomas photographs the couple. The female from the couple, played by Vanessa Redgrave, freaks out and demands the photos from Thomas. Steadfastly Thomas refuses, he needs them for his book and he proceeds to develop and enlarge them. In the midst of some casual sex and drug taking Thomas thinks he's found something in the photos and that something is murder. Thomas becomes obsessed with what he's found or hasn't found and once again he becomes obsesses with his craft, photography.

Now normally I'd go through and say what I liked about the film and what I didn't and what scene was the most memorable. I didn't do that this time because this movie has left me a little confused about how I feel. Yes their were things I liked about it, mostly the whole look and feel of the movie. The life that Thomas lived was one of utter cool filled with casual women, drugs and sex, his apartment/complex/studio was so cool with it's bizarre architecture and cavacade of little rooms and even though the fashion may look bad now it definetley captured the mod scene well. I liked the fact that the movie was so quiet, there wasn't a whole heap of dialogue and there wasn't even a whole heap of background noise. It built suspense well through this silence as you kept expecting something to happen and it allowed you to really think about whether Thomas really had witnessed a murder or not. I also really liked the scenes where Thomas was looking at the blown up images and trying to decipher whether this murder had happend or not. The timing is brilliant just giving you enough time to catch a glimpse of what Thomas is seeing and then cutting away again. This film reminded me of Hitchcock's Rear Window with it's themes of observation and voyeurism and this lingering question of whether the lead character and the audience have witnessed what they think they have.

I can't exactly think of what it didn't do well. It went a long at a nice pace and whilst it had some very weird moments like the semi forced sexual encounter between Thomas and two wannabe models and the imaginary tennis game the film wouldn't be the same without them. The tennis match especially enhances this question over whether what you are seeing is real or fabricated as we hear the sounds of a tennis game but see it is fake and the sex scene pushed the boundaries before the ratings system came in. One scene which seemed to be random shit for the sake of it was the arrival of the propeller Thomas purchased. He brings it in, puts it on the floor, talks about where it may go and that's it next scene. Maybe I'm missing some big social revelation about buying things for the hell of it or whatever but to me it was weird and pointless. Thomas is a flawed character and does seem pretentious at times and a bit of a bastard but part of that is due to his boredom with life and part of that is due to the period the film was shot in. Thomas's obsession with the photos does aleviate some of this pretentiousness as he finds something to become passionate about. This obsession again makes me think of Rear Window. Some people may not like the fact that it doesn't end conventionally, Thomas and the audience do not know whether a murder has even taken place let alone what has happend to the woman supposedly involved. I'll admit it isn't something I'm use to but I did like it for that reason, it was different. People also may not like the lack of dialogue as this adds to this sense of not knowing as things are not explained, ever.

I did love the scene with The Yardbirds in it. The crowd were amazing, just standing there listening and not moving at all until the Yardbirds guitarist smashes his guitar and throws it into the crowd. They become a mob, fighting for a piece of the guitar and eventually it is Thomas who comes out with it yet in an odd move he throws it away as soon as he gets outside. It's like he only wanted it because everyone else did and now that he's got it he's not interested.

All in all I really don't know what to say about this film. It captures the look of 60's London really well and it has a unique story which is told by a master of cinema but I can't exactly rave about it outside of how cool it looked or complain about it. It's the type of film where some people may read everything into and discover these great social revelations or they may not see anything and just enjoy the suspenseful story about a mod photographer who may or may not have witnessed a murder. I'll give this a tentative 7.5 out of 10 and say that a further viewing by myself is in order and a viewing by everyone else to discover their own feelings towards it is neccessary.

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