Blow-Up (1966)

  • Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s first English language film.
  • The music is so ’60s – with the trumpets & the constant jazz-ish drum ticking in the background.
  • So – David Hemmings (his character’s name is Thomas…although I don’t recall that ever being clarified in the movie) is apparently a very successful fashion photographer (successful enough to have a multi-room studio, several assistants, and groupie, wannabe models who lie their way into his office, just to get a few minutes with him).
  • Anyhow, he seems to be extremely wrapped up in his own world – kind of in his own little mental bubble. He comes & goes as he pleases, and does what he pleases, and doesn’t seem to be aware of how his actions affect the things & people around him – not necessarily in a mean way, exactly – but in a completely careless sort of way.

It’s like…even when he’s not photographing things, he’s still experiencing life from behind a lens – not entirely purely. Or something.

  • He wants to buy an antique shop that’s for sale (I think just for the space – not for all the antiques), & while he’s waiting for the owner to return, he goes & shoots a bunch of pictures in a nearby park. He creepily (creepy for anyone else – for a photographer, it’s really not) starts taking photos of a couple from a distance. Vanessa Redgrave is one half of the couple, and she spots him & runs over to tell him to stop taking pictures & to give her his film…and when he refuses, she tries to forcibly grab his camera from him. She even bites him! However, she does not succeed in procuring the camera, and runs off into the park in defeat, never to be heard from again. Right?
  • Wrong! When David Hemmings arrives back at his studio, Vanessa Redgrave (IMDb tells me her name is Jane, though again…pretty sure that was never mentioned in the movie) is there, to demand the film from his camera again. She comes up to his studio & he offers her a drink & instructs her on how she’d be a great model. She takes off her shirt, he tells her to put it back on, and goes & gives her a fake cut of negatives from his camera. Once she thinks she’s got the film, she kisses him, & they’re about to get it on when a guy delivering the huge wooden propellor DH bought from the antique shop earlier rings the bell. VR gives DH what turns out to be a fake phone number, & leaves.

(The huge wooden propellor is awesome, though.)

  • DH gets to developing his roll of film, & through some old-school, non-digital photo enhancement, he discovers that earlier in the park, there was a man in the bushes with a gun, & it appears VR had led the guy she was with to this isolated section of park to have him killed.

!!!

Intriguing!

  • You know…if this was an arty, indie movie from today, for the span of the movie, we’d just follow DH in his everyday photographer & personal endeavors, and the end would just trail off into nowhere, and that’d be that. It’d be some intensely felt, no-real-plot sort of film that highly intellectual film critics might praise as being some sort of statement on creative culture & societal values. It’d probably be boring & slow as hell. However, this movie throws an actual plot incident in its middle, & it’s great, both in concept & execution.

Thank God it’s not just “A Day in the Arty Life of This Semi-Asshole Fashion Photographer.” Thank God something actually happens in this movie. It’s refreshing.

  • DH – like a dumbass – decides to head back to the park in the dead of night, without telling anyone about where he’s going or what he’s discovered, to look for the body of the guy that was killed.
  • Oh, great – you found him! Now what???
  • You ridiculous dumbass – GO TO THE GODDAMN POLICE.
  • Well, when he gets back from his trip to the park & a brief stop at his flat…all the pictures & negatives have been stolen from his studio. Surprise! Any old stupid could have seen that one coming.
  • There’s this whole scene where DH thinks he sees VR, and he passes through this concert featuring the Yardbirds – post-Clapton, but with Jeff Beck & Jimmy Page – in attempt to follow her, but it ultimately gets him nowhere. Cool band sighting, though.
  • I didn’t mention the mimes running around at the beginning of the movie – but they were there, and that’s how the movie ends, too – with the group of mimes playing an imaginary game of tennis. (The mimes are apparently part of some British college charity tradition, or something. As an American, I’ve never heard of this – but I’ll take Roger Ebert’s word on the fact that it’s real.)
  • I didn’t love this movie, but I can appreciate it & see why other people do. I just don’t love ’60s movies – what can I say?
  • It plays with interesting ideas about perception & the concept of disappearance – but I don’t think I have a high enough psychological IQ to grasp all of that the way some people who talk about this movie seem to. Sorry!

 

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