For Reel


Blow-Up (1966)
April 10, 2016, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
4.5 Stars
Blow-UpThe frenzy that Blow-Up caused upon its release in 1966 was tied to its confrontational and sometimes lurid depiction of Swinging London—rife with orgies, antiwar protesters, and the disaffected crowd of a rock concert. Although time has confirmed Blow-Up‘s status as a masterpiece, ironically it has lost some of its value as a shocking cultural document, particularly because so many films in its wake did an equally (or better) job of recording that period. What has continued to persist, however, is the film’s engagement with the photography, particularly how it regards truth and the depiction of what it means to have a passion for images. The most celebrated sequence in Blow-Up occurs when a jaded photographer (David Hemmings) closely inspects the pictures he’s taken and searches for a mystery hidden within them. His engagement with the photographs is inarguably the most interested he is in anything throughout the picture—there is an ironic contrast in his fascination with the images and the meaningless orgy he has partway through his investigation. Blow-Up questions the truth of images, both in the sense of how truth becomes adjusted with interpretation, and whether that truth persists once the images are no more. Lofty as these themes might seem, there are few images as primal and viscerally thrilling as Hemmings’ simple interaction with the photographs—shot in long silences (which asks Hemmings to communicate an impressive amount with only body language), these sequences have an almost humorous perspective on the futility of trying to communicate with a photograph and how the desperation to probe for the secrets hidden within only amplifies their elusiveness.

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