Blowup

Released:  1966

Cast:  David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles

Oscar Nominations:  Best Director (Michelangelo Antonioni), Best Original Screenplay (Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra, Edward Bond)

SUMMARY:  Thomas (David Hemmings) is a fashion photographer in London, who is also working on an art book.  At the beginning of the film, he returns to his studio/apartment after spending the night in a cheap boarding house, taking photographs for the book.  That morning, he shoots a session with a model named Veruschka, then a group shoot.  However, the models in the group shoot frustrate him, and he goes for a walk in a nearby park.  While there, he sees a man and a woman together, and takes several photos of them.  When the woman, Jane (Vanessa Redgrave), notices, she angrily chases Thomas down and demands the film.  He refuses to give it to her, and goes to lunch with his agent.  During this lunch, he notices that a man seems to be following him, and looking into his car.  When he goes back to the studio after lunch, Jane is waiting for him.  She again demands the film, but Thomas eventually gives her a different roll of film; when he asks for her phone number, she gives him a fake one.  After she leaves, Thomas starts to wonder just why she wanted the film so badly, and begins to print the pictures.  He blows them up to a large size, then slowly goes over every detail.  After some time, and several re-enlargements, Thomas notices what appears to be a man with a gun standing in the trees.  Further investigation reveals what looks to be a body laying in the grass.  His examinations are interrupted by the appearance of two models whom he met earlier, though he eventually.

That evening, Thomas returns to the park, looking for the locations shown in the photos.  He does find the body, that of a now-cold man, but does not have his camera with him.  When he hears twigs snapping behind him, Thomas believes someone else is there, and quickly leaves the park.  He returns to his studio, only to find that all of the photos and the negatives are gone, save one enlargement of the body.  He takes this picture and goes into town, where he spots Jane going into a club where The Yardbirds are playing.  Though he follows her into the club, Thomas is unable to find Jane, and eventually leaves.  He instead goes to a party where he locates his agent, and tries to explain about the body (and the presumed murder).  Unfortunately, the party is awash in drugs, and Thomas is unable to make his agent understand what he is talking about.  Thomas falls asleep at the party, and when he wakes up in the morning, goes back to the park on his way home.  To his shock, the body is gone, without leaving any traces of ever having been there:  since he did not have his camera with him, Thomas has no proof of anything he suspects, save the one grainy enlargement.  Thomas spends some time watching a group of mimes “play” tennis, before he turns and walks home.

MY TAKE:  This is a really frustrating movie, and it left me wondering what the point was.  Nothing is explained, and I didn’t even know the names of the two main characters until I read the summary on Wikipedia (probably the reason I keep wanting to call the guy David instead of Thomas).  We don’t learn why Jane was so anxious to get hold of the film, although the implication is that she knows about the “murder”.  The identity of her companion, which seems suspicious, is never discussed, and even though Thomas gives her a fake roll of film, we never hear anything else from her.  Yes, it may have been her that took the enlargements, but I think it’s just as likely that they were taken by the two models, since they were in the apartment and saw Thomas’ preoccupation with the photos.  They were probably also rather torqued, since they had just slept with Thomas and he still wouldn’t take their pictures.  I think he actually leaves them in his apartment when he runs off, which is a monumentally stupid move, considering you have evidence of a supposed murder.  In another incredibly stupid move, professional photographer Thomas runs off to see a dead body — without his camera.  Once he sees the body, instead of going to the police or anybody, Thomas finds his agent; when the man is too stoned to be of any help, Thomas just hangs out at the party.  He seems pretty surprised to find that the body is gone in the morning, but I wasn’t:  I was surprised it was still there the evening before.  Anybody who commits a murder would want to get rid of the body as soon as possible, not leave it in a public park.  Now comes the really annoying part:  nothing else happens.  We don’t see Jane again, Thomas apparently doesn’t go to the police, and nothing is revealed or solved regarding the supposed murder.  It left me feeling like I had wasted two hours, because what was the point of watching a movie where nothing is resolved?

RATING:  Lousy and really frustrating.

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