Saturday, July 20, 2013

Blow Up

Blow Up, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, is one of those ultra cool movies that I love. It's been a number of years since I've seen it, but it's one of those few movies that'll have scenes replay in my mind from time to time, like celluloid ghosts pulled from hiding by the most random of moments in one's daily life. I wouldn't pretend to know what it's about and what it means, so forget about any deep analysis from me here. Just one fan's admiration is all you're going to get here. That and a recommendation to seek it out and see for yourself it if you haven't already done so.

Released in 1966, Blow Up is a snapshot of a swinging, mod London; a time and place I would have loved to experience for myself. It's an "art film" whose story is deceptively simple. A photographer, played with laconic cool by David Hemmings, takes pictures of what appears to be a pair of lovers in a park. The woman involved discovers him doing so and is none to happy about it. She wants the film and the pictures. Later, while developing the photographs, he notices something odd about them. Within the frames, it seems the film has captured a body, and a murderer. The lovers' embrace is ambiguous, open to seeing it as either passionate or sinister. The more Hemmings tries to blow up the photographs, the less we can distinguish what is contained in them. That evening, after a lively romp with two birds, he goes back to the park alone and discovers a body there. When he returns to his studio he find's that it's been broken into and ransacked of his prints and negatives (echoes of the legendary "men in black"). By now, the viewer is hooked, and this is where the film really kicks.

To give any more away would take the fun away from the uninitiated who've yet to experience it for themselves. One may find it either invigorating, or frustrating. Perhaps both. That's what's fun about films like this. One scene I'd like to share however, is the famous one below where we're treated to a nightclub performance by The Yardbirds, featuring a young Jeff Beck and a pre-Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page. The audience's reaction to what's happening onstage is priceless.

I've also seen Antonoini's  L'Avventura and love it as well. Perhaps I have an attraction for ennui and mysteries without solutions.

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