Michaelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up is a hitchcock-ian plot set against the background of 1960's London in the height of the mod fashion movement. The film is beautifully crafted, but incredibly slow moving.
Thomas, the protagonist, is a successful photographer, but is growing tired of the emptiness of fashion shoots with beautiful yet vapid models. In an attempt to capture something more tied to reality, he photographs two strangers in a park. The woman sees Thomas and desperately attempts to take the film from him. After she follows him home, he fools her and gives her the wrong roll. Thomas then develops and analyzes the actual pictures from the park. In the background, he believes he sees a gunman and a dead body. Thomas spends the rest of the film trying to crack this mystery, which brings us to the ultimate question brought about by Blow Up: How does one distinguish between reality and imagination?
To reinforce this thought, Blow Up has some elements of absurdism. This goes hand in hand with the mod time period. Thomas has very odd mannerisms, and will sometimes just run away or fall onto the floor in the middle of conversations. In addition, there is a brief interlude to the seriousness of Thomas studying his photographs where two young models come to his apartment and all three of them have sex on his floor. The oddest part comes at the end, however. Thomas is in the park where he took the photographs looking for the dead body, but it has disappeared. Suddenly, a car-full of young people dressed as mimes pull up by a tennis court and begin to play with an invisible ball and rackets. When the "ball" goes over the fence, Thomas plays along and throws it back to them. I believe that this is his surrender. He acknowledges that it is not important whether there was or wasn't a murder, or even a body for that matter. The event in the park served one ultimate purpose for Thomas: to remind him of his passion for photography and allow him to look outside the materialistic and superficial culture of his era.
Blow Up is one of those movies that you have to sleep on. I appreciate the film more now than when I was actually watching it. By most people's standards, it is a relatively boring movie. However, its message is solid and the means to portray it are incredibly creative.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars