A successful mod photographer in London whose world is bounded by fashion, pop music, marijuana, and easy sex, feels his life is boring and despairing. Then he meets a mysterious beauty, and also notices something frightfully suspicious on one of his photographs of her taken in a park. The fact that he may have photographed a murder does not occur to him until he studies and then blows up his negatives, uncovering details, blowing up smaller and smaller elements, and finally putting the puzzle together.Written by
Some interpret this existential film to mean that human reality is defined in the context of the group, not the individual. Hence, in the film, to Thomas (David Hemmings), the murder did occur. But, the murder's "reality" is objective only if Thomas can verify it through someone else's experience. Otherwise, Thomas' observed event is subjective and problematic. Each individual thus sees through a glass darkly ... even when the glass is an "objective" camera lens. Ironically, the same could be said for Antonioni.
This film came out only three years after the JFK assassination. I find it hard to believe that that event did not play into this film to some extent. There are all kinds of references to the assassination: the grassy area and picket fence; photographic evidence of a "badge man" character with gun hiding in the bushes; the subsequently developed pictures having been presumably stolen or altered as part of some conspiracy. It's almost as if Thomas and his camera represent the Zapruder film component of the assassination. Indeed, the causal "reality" of the JFK murder was, and still is, to some extent a function of human perception, derived from an interpretation of what the camera sees.
"Blowup" is unlike most films. There are long takes, with minimal editing. This gives the film a slow, meandering feel. Dialogue is minimal. Natural sounds override music, throughout. And like other Antonioni films, this one is mostly visual. The cinematography is striking.
Another characteristic is that the film is not plot intensive. Nor are the characters sympathetic. Thomas is not at all likable. And other characters are mere mannequins. I question whether Antonioni needed two hours to convey his message. More of a plot might have reduced the need for so much seemingly irrelevant filler.
"Blowup" is mostly for viewers who like unconventional, arty films that impart abstruse philosophical "meaning". The film is therefore aimed at people who like to think and ponder.
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