Blow-Up Holds Up

The image accompanying this post (and the original poster of the movie Blow-Up is of actor David Hemmings, playing James, a fashion photographer, engaging a fully (best) dressed duet of erotica as he shoots model Verushka snap snap kiss. I had a relude Tuesday night with Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film, and am finding that spring has sprung and with it the desire to go back and watch fantastic movies that not only age well but brilliantly – as embodied in Blow-Up.

“Blow-Up” doesn’t denote an argument or an explosion, although it might, but rather an enlargement of the photo negative to reveal something, in the print still wet from the bath, that might not be visible, but that may. And what if, what if maybe the aperture never opened on a taboo, what if it never really happened, a tryst, or a murder, or both?  What is truth and whose? And what is the relation between ourselves and the camera and what we desire? A question so stunningly delivered in this movie that it could be just as apt were it made last week instead of 46 years ago.

Simply, James is a roving fashion photographer with a lot of bucks and that ennui-boredom thing that so many women find alluring in the extreme. He travels around London in his Silver Cloud open-top, buys a gorgeous wooden propeller from an antique shop, and while having a morning constitutional with his camera and brilliant light at a London park, is a voyeur into what looks like a love scene, casual enough, but that might just be, have been, a murder.

Blow-Up was Antonioni’s first movie in eight years not to star Monica Vitti. You’ll have to settle for a cast whose acting is utter A-effect: Hemmings with Vanessa Redgrave; plus Sarah Miles as the nextdoor neighbor love interest.

If you can’t get enough Antonioni post Blow-Up, go immediately to L’Aventurra with commentary by Gene Youngblood.) And yes, that one has Monica Vitti.


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