Blow-Up ★★★★½

"A film you can explain in words, is not a real film." - Antonioni

My first English language Antonioni film is centred on a successful mod photographer in full swinging sixties London. Blow-Up is a big departure from his previous themes of despair and alienation, instead of putting relationships under the microscope this time he examines the nature of reality and the protagonists perception of that perceived reality.

Narratively more focused, less abstract and more quickly paced than his earlier work, it is, at least superficially, a fascinating murder mystery thriller. Nonetheless it remains very unorthodox, confounding, rule breaking cinema that thematically delves much deeper than that. Antonioni questions whether there is truth in art. In an introduction on a screenplay he states - "We know that under the image revealed there is another which is truer to reality and under this image still another and yet again still another under this last one, right down to the true image of that reality, absolute, mysterious, which no one will ever see or perhaps right down to the decomposition of any image, of any reality.”

The character of Thomas, played brilliantly by David Hemmings is bored with his meaningless existence of sex, drugs and the superficial subculture lifestyle. As the film advances, it becomes much more of a character study, revealing its real focus.

It ends on an ambiguous note that might be considered frustrating but is absolutely the best possible way to conclude the story. The question of whether what he sees, or thinks he sees in a photo taken in a park is tackled in the most interesting fashion.

As with all his work it looks fantastic, with colourful London displayed in all its groovy glory, complete with some marvelous driving shots. A good place to start for newcomers.

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