This post is a part of the June Movie Project here at QueerMyntCritic, for the full list of films to be reviewed go here.
Abstract – Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, David Hemmings is a fashion photographer who accidentally photographs a murder.
Background – This was not originally supposed to be the second film on the list. Originally it was to be Tokyo Story and then Chimes at Midnight but neither of those were available to me. At one point Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom was going to be in this spot but holy crap just from the trailer I knew I couldn’t do it as a part of this series. Then as I was looking through directors I hadn’t used I came across DePalma’s Blow Out and recalled that it was inspired by this film. So I added them both to the list in replacement of Tokyo Story and Chimes at Midnight. The other reason that this film really popped out at me was because of its relationship to The Conversation. I had to present on that film in a class earlier this year and in my research found that Coppola cited this as a specific influence on that film.
Comments – 1: Tension, this film is tense above all else. Particularly as Thomas begins noticing that his photographs from the park reveal a murder. He paces across his apartment, from his dark room to his living room, blowing up parts of the photos he took to see with more clarity. Back and forth back and forth he paces has the narrative of the day’s events come into further clarity. It’s hard to look away and that is exactly what you want in a film like this.
2: Colour! Oh dear the colour pallets of this film are gorgeous. Considering digital manipulation of colour was not a possibility at the time it is pretty amazing how united the film is visually. The outfits are all very 60s and it from the fashion shoots with the more outlandish outfits to the everyday wear of the photographer ever outfit fits every location and every location feels right out of the 60s.
3: Humour, tragic humour. There is a moment late in the film after the photographer’s studio has been burgled and the photographer ends up at a party trying to tell a friend of his about the murder. In the house party everyone is stoned out of coherency and when the photographer finds his friend he is unable to put the experience of the day into words. Not that anyone would understand him because of how intoxicated they are. The humour of this scene is in how it is critical of the 60s counterculture: pointing out the apathy of a drug addled youth.
Deep Cuts – I want to discuss this film in reference to The Conversation because that film will not be a later part of this series. Blow Up is about the invasive power of photography while The Conversation is about the invasive power of audio. Blow Up follows an innocuous if morally questionable fashion photographer who accidentally photographs a murder in a park. The Conversation follows an audio surveillance expert who discovers a murder plot on one of his recording jobs. Blow Up is about the danger of pure aesthetic while The Conversation is about the threat posed to privacy by technology. Its interesting that these two films are so stylistically similar considering how spectacularly different they are in themes.
Watch with The Conversation and Blow Out and Enemy of the State for a generational take on these ideas from the 60s to the 90s.
Watch with Pierrot Le Fou and Le Bonheur for a colourful extravaganza.