Posted by: kfugrip | August 24, 2007

Listless

Blowup, by Michelangelo Antonioni, is the story of a photographer who is so disinterested, and bored, with his lot that it takes his own witness to a murder to reinvigorate his lust for life.  This film, in typical Antonioni fashion, is replete with beautiful shots and moves at a measured pace towards a climax that took my by surprise.

Possible Spoilers abound (but it won’t ruin your enjoyment of the movie because it’s not a who-done-it).

The gist: The photographer (Hemmings) takes pictures of a couple (including Vanessa Redgrave) kissing in a park.  The woman tries to take the photos, and succeeds, but not before the photographer has uncovered evidence of a man being killed.  The photographer pursues the crime and makes some feeble attempts to seek help, but is thwarted.

I don’t believe I’m spoiling anything when I say that I don’t think anyone was actually killed and that he imagined the photograph contained the evidence.  The presence of the mime trope gives the biggest clue to this, as well as what the painter says.

As far as the story goes, I found it interesting and I liked how it payed off immensely.  However there are many scenes that distract from the narrative flow and seem pointless.  I know that nothing is arbitrary and that Antonioni is making choices about what we see and how we see it.  The fact that some scene appear to amount to nothing is probably more my lack of understanding than it is the filmmaker’s error.  I can accept that.  But I am an astute cinephile and  I missed the point a few times.   My problem with this film is exemplified by what Ingmar Bergman said of Antonioni.

“He’s an aesthete. If, for example, he needs a certain kind of road for “The Red Desert”, then he gets the houses repainted on the damned street. That is the attitude of an aesthete. He took great care over a single shot, but didn’t understand that a film is a rhythmic stream of images, a living, moving process; for him, on the contrary, it was such a shot, then another shot, then yet another.”

Bergman is being a bit harsh but I agree with the depiction of Antonioni as an aesthete, more interested in the single shot than the entire work.  And boy are there some beautiful shots in Blowup.   Characters dwarfed by the landscape, and flashes of color intruding on the frame.  He’s the master at shots like this.

The good news is that this film grew on me moments after I was done watching it.  Kelly, my girlfriend, hated it and made her opinion known as we watched, and I was leaning towards her point of view until the end.  The end made me think, and rethink, the film.  It’s been sitting well with me today and thus I give it a solid 3 stars.  I liked some of his other films better but this one has stuck with me.  On the whole, smart and unified.

blowup.jpg

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Responses

  1. everything adam said is true, and it was still shit.


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