Blow up tells the story of a disillusioned fashion photographer, Thomas (David Hemmings), in ’60s mod London who discovers he’s captured a murder on camera. Antonioni creates a film that questions the politics of its protagonist and, at the same time, challenges the way we watch movies. In many ways, this is the best film ever made about movies, because Antonioni recognizes the fragile nature of celluloid and the need to preserve great images. Which is why the film is to profoundly moving—by film’s end, Antonioni sadly suggests that one day Blow up won’t exist (or mean anything to anyone) if it doesn’t continue to be seen, or if its meaning isn’t blown-up.
When Thomas accidentally photographs a crime scene at a disturbingly serene park, he’s encouraged to activate a coded narrative via blow ups of his photographs. (The chilling interaction of still photographs may be one of the greatest sequences in the history of cinema.) Though Thomas respects movement, he certainly doesn’t understand it. As such, his struggle to activate images becomes a fascinating call to arms and an even more interesting evocation of a universal need for self-discovery. Thomas happily engages with a group of mimes throughout the film, but he doesn’t understand them as much as he is enticed by their surface spectacle. Only by film’s end does he understand that an image that isn’t there doesn’t really exist and Blow up daringly suggests that an image without politics isn’t an image at all.
Ed Gonzales, Slant Magazine
Carlo di Palma
Best Director Kansas City Film Critics’ Circle Awards
Best Director National Society of Film Critics’ Awards
Best Foreign Film French Syndicate of Cinema Critics
Best Foreign Film Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists
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