Friday, April 15, 2011

448. BLOWUP (1966)

Running Time: 111 minutes
Directed By: Michelangelo Antonioni
Written By: Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra, Edward Bond, from story by Julio Cortazar
Main Cast: David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, John Castle, Jane Birkin


We're coming to a close on the "Antonioni Week" festivities and today I watched the most anticipated of the lot, "Blowup". I had heard so many great things about this film and was totally ready to let it engulf me, but as Antonioni's films have come to do, it only disappointed.

The main character is Thomas (Hemmings), a hip, London photographer who has a penchant for snapping scantily clad, stick thin models. Thomas is getting ready to publish a book of his photos and heads to a nearby park in London to see if he can capture the grand finale shot that will appear in the book. While strolling through the park and taking pictures of pigeons and landscapes, he spots a couple who seem to be enjoying an intimate day out. Wanting to capture their romance, he follows them, hiding behind trees and fences and snapping away like a skilled marksman. He is eventually caught by the woman and when she begs for him to hand over the photographs, he refuses. Later, she shows up at his apartment, again requesting the photos and after some flirtation between the two he hands over a fake film canister, making her think she has the photos. However, Thomas still has them and upon developing them, he notices that there may have been someone else in the park that day. He notices a man, behind some bushes, who appears to be wielding a gun. After blowing up the photos, he also notices the dead body of the man whom he snapped in the park and he soon realizes that he's inadvertently photographed a murder.


What a HUGE disappointment Michelangelo Antonioni has turned out to be. I realize we're not done yet, but why even hold out hope that the final Antonioni film will be anything short of dull? Here, Antonioni gives us a fantastic premise: A hotshot photographer inadvertently snaps a murder. It's as simple as that. However, we don't even get into that until a full hour of the film has gone by. Taking up that first hour is a whole lot of pointless drivel, that never really tends to amount to anything. Even when we do get into the thick of things, Antonioni makes sure to stop the flow by having Thomas roll around on the floor with a couple of naked, giggling girls.

When I finished the film, I did a little research and found that the whole plot may have just been a part of Thomas' imagination and that in reality there was no murder and that Thomas simply dreamed the whole thing up. If that's the case, then it was totally lost on me. See that's the thing about Antonioni films though, you have to pay extra special attention, because the man isn't going to give the meaning to his films up willingly. You're going to have to latch on to every single clue you get and when the film is over, you have to put those clues together and try to make sense of the picture as a whole. I guess this one just didn't entice me enough, because I obviously missed some things if the film is meant to be an imagining. Of course, you can never really be too sure, when it comes to Antonioni. Michelangelo is a very ambiguous filmmaker and maybe the film was an imagining or maybe it wasn't. Antonioni leaves that up to the viewer to decide and the only thing that I decided was that the film didn't do a whole lot for me. If I was forced to decide as to whether or not a murder actually occurred in the confines of the film, I'd say "yes", I think a murder did occur and here's why:

Up until the point that Thomas finds the clues that lead him to believe there has been a murder, he is a very pompous fellow. He drives his Rolls Royce, tells models that want his attention where to go and screams at the models that do work for him. In the simplest for, he is an asshole. Then he starts to conjure up this murder business and for a good stretch we get a very limited amount of dialogue. Following that, Thomas actually discovers a corpse in the park and by the end of the film, he seems to change. I see a man who, for the better part of his adult life, has hid behind the lens of a camera. I found it odd that Thomas didn't take his camera with him and snap the corpse he found or the mimes that he saw "playing tennis". I think that Thomas did uncover a murder and that being that close to death, made him appreciate the world around him even more. Thomas was a guy who forced himself to hunt for interesting things to take pictures of, when in the end, I think he realizes that there are interesting things all around mimes playing pretend tennis...and instead of exploiting their innocent romp, in the end Thomas simply sits back and watches things unfold with his own eyes.

RATING: 4.5/10 For all my griping there was something there, but not a lot. I'll definitely have to watch this one again someday, but for now consider it a big thumbs down. Next and last in the Antonioni series: "Zabriskie Point"


April 15, 2011 5:33pm

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