Sunday, June 21, 2009

30 Days of Films: "Blow Up" (1966)

There is a weird sensation that comes from watching an Antonioni film.  All of them (that I've seen) are slow, deliberate, detached, crawling at almost a snail's pace with very minimal plot.  And yet, each image feels perfectly calibrated, each camera move and edit ingeniously planned.  His films are thought out to an almost overbearing degree, which has in a way polarized his viewers.

Blow Up is not a "fun" film to watch, but it is fascinating.  A photographer shoots pictures in the park, thinks he's stumbled on a romantic moment between two lovers in one of his pictures, but as he enlarges it over and over he begins to be convinced he's caught a murder on film.  The genius of Antonioni's film is how he acknowledges the faults and manipulative capability of the photographic medium - it reflects reality, but is it real?  It's the central dilemma of the entire film, and its images only generate hypotheses instead of facts.  It's an unsolved mystery, but one that the audience must sort out not through the film's very bare plot, but in how they think (or to what degree) photographs can capture truth - what is truth? what is realism?  is it a movement or a conundrum?

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