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.

4 years ago


how come he didn't hear the gunshot?

6 years ago

Big A2

@ClassicLady: This is hardly representative of the whole decade's output.

8 years ago

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