Blow-Up - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Blow-Up Reviews

Page 2 of 74
January 9, 2016
Antonioni's art house thriller has aged remarkably well not just for being a technical marvel, but one of the few films of the era to give a legit depiction of the 1960s counter-culture movement. Just as John Boorman would do with Point Blank a year later, Antonioni introduced new-wave tactics to a film with genre tropes, making for something that responded to a contemporary young audience, and recalled classics. Antonioni shoots the film with a whirling flair that leads to never a dull moment, all while wrapping it around a storyline that's an intriguing puzzle. A masterpiece, and yes, it's way better than Brian de Palma's Blow Out.
November 7, 2015
Blow-Up is not so much the unfolding of a murder mystery as it is watching an obsession at work, following a bored and unsatisfied photographer who is awakened from his tedium by the pleasure of his work.
October 31, 2015
After spending the night at a doss house where he has taken pictures for a book of art photos, glamorous fashion photographer, Thomas (David Hemmings), is late for a photo shoot with famous model Veruschka at his studio, which in turn makes him late for a shoot with other models later in the morning. He grows bored and walks off, leaving the models and production staff in the lurch. As he leaves the studio, two teenage girls who are aspiring models (Jan Birkin and Gillian Hills) ask to speak with him, but the photographer drives off to look at an antiques shop. Wandering into Maryon Park, he takes photos of two lovers. The woman (Vanessa Redgrave) is furious at being photographed. The photographer then meets his agent for lunch, and notices a man following him and looking into his car. Back at his studio, Redgrave arrives asking for the film, but he deliberately hands her a different roll. She in turn writes down a false telephone number to give to him. His many enlargements of the black and white film are grainy but seem to show a dead body in the grass and a killer lurking in the trees with a gun. The fact that he may have photographed a murder didn´t occur to him until he studied and then blew up his negatives, uncovering details, blowing up smaller and smaller elements, and finally putting the puzzle together...

Bosley Crowther, film critic of The New York Times, called it a "fascinating picture, which has something real to say about the matter of personal involvement and emotional commitment in a jazzed-up, media-hooked-in world so cluttered with synthetic stimulations that natural feelings are overwhelmed". Crowther had reservations, describing the "usual Antonioni passages of seemingly endless wanderings" as "redundant and long"; nevertheless, he called Blowup a "stunning picture - beautifully built up with glowing images and color compositions that get us into the feelings of our man and into the characteristics of the mod world in which he dwells". Of the film's ending, Roger Ebert wrote in The Great Movies: "What remains is a hypnotic conjuring act, in which a character is awakened briefly from a deep sleep of bored alienation and then drifts away again. This is the arc of the film. Not 'Swinging London.' Not existential mystery. Not the parallels between what Hemmings does with his photos and what Antonioni does with Hemmings. But simply the observations that we are happy when we are doing what we do well, and unhappy seeking pleasure elsewhere. I imagine Antonioni was happy when he was making this film."Ebert also published a letter by actor Ronan O'Casey which claimed that the film's mysterious nature is the product of an "unfinished" production, and that scenes which would have "depict[ed] the planning of the murder and its aftermath -- scenes with Vanessa, Sarah Miles and Jeremy Glover, Vanessa's new young lover who plots with her to murder me -- were never shot because the film went seriously over budget." "Blow Up" is a frenetic, insinuating, paranoid and "what if" film, but yet it´s slow paced and energetic at the same time. I love how Antonioni has used the "Swinging London" (clothes, fashion, music, environments, people) and particularly the fashion scene to its full extent and that adds so many layers to the film. The anti-hero Thomas, a self obsessed, cruel and with a larger than life persona is played perfectly by Hemmings. His facial expressions and movements carries the whole film and with a young Vanessa Redgrave as his counterpart we see movie magic on the screen. The storyline is based on the idea that everyone perceives reality in their own way and ultimately see only what they want to see. We can be blind to reality in our own little bubble and that feels even more current today than it did in 1966. The end shows that what seems to not exist in reality can actually exist in your mind. What is true and what is not true? It´s in the eye, ears and mind of the beholder. Michelangelo Antonioni offered little in the way of insight into his intentions with the film, and was always clear that meaning wasn't meant to be spelled out. "By developing with enlargers...things emerge that we probably don't see with the naked eye....The photographer in Blow-Up, who is not a philosopher, wants to see things closer up. But it so happens that, by enlarging too far, the object itself decomposes and disappears. Hence there's a moment in which we grasp reality, but then the moment passes. This was in part the meaning of Blow-Up." Vanessa Redgrave offered her take on the film in her autobiography. "Blow-Up was about the unity and difference of essence and phenomena, the conflict between what is, objectively, and what is seen, heard, or grasped by the individual." "Blow Up" is a testament to the 60´s "Swinging London" and a truly engaging movie experience. Trivia: Michelangelo Antonioni's first choice for the role of Jane was the Swedish actress Evabritt Strandberg, after spotting her in Bo Widerberg's film Kärlek 65 (1965). She went to London to meet Antonioni. He approved of her, but the three MGM bosses present at the meeting didn't like her "big nose". The role went to Vanessa Redgrave.
½ October 26, 2015
Among Antonioni's films, this one seems to be rather commonly misunderstood to be grasping at metaphysical questions about the nature of truth and reality, even by folks who have seen a lot of his earlier films and are pretty familiar with his concerns. Yes, Hemmings appears to see a dead body that later isn't there. Yes, Vanessa Redgrave all but vanishes in one scene. Lea Massari vanishes without a trace in "L'Avventura", but I've never heard any discussion about this raising questions about the nature of reality. It's a narrative device to examine his interest in the alienation of his characters and their coming to life briefly in the face of a mystery. In that respect, "Blow-Up" feels almost like a re-make.
½ October 9, 2015
With Blow-Up, Antonioni shifts his focus to a specific, heavily cluttered generation defined by a specific set of cultural norms that encompass sexual promiscuity, referential art, and drug usage. He contrasts the old and the new through color, as he did in Red Desert, but in making the main character a photographer, Antonioni imbues in his lead a new, entirely appropriate sense of his own personal self, portraying the artistic process and the ways in which it can play out with commendable honesty (the fact that he's made the photographer is so cruel exemplifies this admirable veracity).

Though this generation may not do things exactly as they've been done before, they have no more success in attempting to make sense of the world around them than their predecessors, wandering around desperately attempting to right what they perceive to be a wrong in their insufficient experience in life. Similarly inconclusive, the film refuses to provide concrete answers for the narrative questions it raises, and rightfully so; whether or not he's borne witness to a murder isn't the point. He can continue to blow-up photographs searching for answers all he wants, but there will never be any there to satisfy his existential insufficiencies. Life isn't as conclusive as that.
February 22, 2012
A gorgeously cryptic film that leaves much of it's plot up to interpretation and conjecture.
September 2, 2015
Lo siento, me parece insufrible.
½ July 19, 2015
This sure falls into its own category.
½ March 10, 2012
Technically groundbreaking, and ambitious to a fault, Blow-Up is an immersive cryptic multi-layered viewing experience that will probably have you re-watching, even though Antonioni's wandering can be quite tiresome, specially in the first act.
May 25, 2015
Fascinating film that just screams "mod" (and interestingly enough, not all too different from today's hipsters in respects), this one intrigued me more for its subtle philosophical connotations than its dreadfully pretentious wanderings. Still a culturally important picture for sure, with enough memorable imagery to remain with you for a long time.
December 11, 2010
I just don't get it. Tacky, dated, dull, boring, and utterly meaningless, "Blow-Up" is somehow even worse than "L'Avventura". One of the least entertaining films ever made.
January 11, 2012
It's impossible to put your finger on it, but there's SOMETHING ABOUT THOSE TREES that captivates, puts me in awe and moves me every time beyond believe.David Hemmings portrays one of the coolest characters in movie history in this pop/mod mystery movie. Hemmings is a confident, self centered photographer in the mid sixties London scene where he unwittingly photographs a murder. When Vanessa Redgrave throws herself at him in order to recover the film, Hemmings becomes obsessed with the pictures, ultimately blowing them up to expose a sinister murder scene. The true brilliance in the film is the David Hemmings portrayal of the full spectrum of cool: attitude, fashion, art - everything. On another dimension Blow Up is a character study of this hip London photographer. Its influence even made its way to the Austin Powers series in the photography scenes.
½ February 26, 2015
This film may have been groundbreaking in its time, but it does not hold up today. I can't imagine anyone other than film students and/or film historians enjoying this film, unless its old beatniks who are trying to re-live their heyday. You have only to read the audience reviews of this film to see that these are exactly the people who have rated this film so highly. SMH

The story is very open-ended, people seem to aimlessly meander through scenes, the plot is ridiculous, and the use of symbolism is heavy-handed - to put it mildly. Watch it if you must, but you've been warned.
August 27, 2014
A vision of a decaying society, a top photographer with an empty non sense life, a diffuse story, a film based in some moments. Also a colorful aesthetic proposal.
February 6, 2015
The first English language film by Michelangelo Antonioni, who had made a splash with his Italian films such as L'Avventura (1960), La Notte (1961) and Red Desert (1964). For his next film, he went to Italian producer Carlo Ponti, then hot off producing Doctor Zhivago (1965), and he got Antonioni a contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Here, he was in the right place at the right time, and he captured the atmosphere going on. This tells the story of photographer Thomas (David Hemmings), who has had a successful career working in and around the pop scene of London at that time. While out on a shoot at Maryon Park, he takes candid photos of two lovers, the woman Jane (Vanessa Redgrave) isn't happy about being photographed, and she later goes to Thomas's studio, demanding the negative. He complies, but gives her a different negative. While looking though the photographs he took in the park, he finds he tooks a photo of a body in the grass and a potential killer in the nearby trees. He goes back to investigate, and he becomes obsessed with Jane... It's a good thriller, set against the backdrop of Swinging London. Antonioni uses a lot of colour in the film, and it has an interesting plot, even if it is quite difficult to navigate at times. It has a good score by Herbie Hancock, with a guest performance by the Yardbirds. This should have set Antonioni up for life. Then he did Zabriskie Point (1970)...
½ January 25, 2015
Unbelievably dull a film where the main purpose is to distract the main character from the plot. (And that's the purpose of the movie) The scenes are drawn out but amazing to look at. The film has its moments of interest like the ending but it seriously barely goes anywhere. It isn't recommendable
January 18, 2015
Desconsertante pelicula , pero que mantiene el interés.
June 11, 2007
All synopses of the film describe it as a photographer possibly capturing a murder on film. Whilst this is indeed a part of the plot, it plays a relatively small role in the photographer's prioties. The film is mostly about him parading about and the little vingettes he gets into. Very interesting, very 60's. Has a wonderful ending.
November 3, 2014
One more reason to live in LA! Tons of screenings and revival houses of films in pristine prints and not just around a general release. BLOW UP is a masterpiece. Let's get that out of the way but you know, I never really liked it that much. And I love Antonioni. But seeing this last night, I was just in awe. It is a masterwork that transcends its time frame, truly explores who we are, what we need, why we fail, what we see, and why we may be empty.
February 1, 2012
In the opening scenes of "Blowup", we are transported into 1960s London, the London Diana Vreeland labeled as "the most swinging city of the world at the moment". With doll-like women that have the hair of Françoise Hardy, the body of Twiggy, and the mannerisms of Brigitte Bardot, it's a maze of mod lifestyles and cheerfully banal attitudes.
One such person living a mod lifestyle is Thomas (David Hemmings, in an iconic role), a young photographer with a flat any artist would dream of. When we're first introduced to Thomas, he is in the process of a photo shoot, his star being supermodel Verushcka von Lehndorff. The scene, covered in big hair, put-upon sexual tension, and poses that would only be appropriate for "Interview", is remarkable: it sets the stage for the rest of the film.
There are the kinds of masterpieces that hit you emotionally, like the latest Steven Spielberg project or the series finale of the greatest show on television; but then there are the kinds that Michelangelo Antonioni makes. "Blowup" is drenched in silence, enigma, danger, boredom, fashion, style - it's a complete work stacked to the top of impeccably shot scenes, scenes that don't always add up but leave an abiding impression on the viewer, not easily shaken off.
Following his photo shoot, Thomas takes a trip to the park, sees a fascinating couple, and being a photographer, lets out his inner paparazzi in the sake of art. The woman (Vanessa Redgrave), rattled by Thomas' nerve, confronts him; but even we can tell that there isn't something right about the situation.
Later on, she arrives at his flat, angry and demanding she have the footage. She does everything she can - even taking her top off at one point, in hopes of seductive manipulation - but she doesn't get her way. When developing the said pictures, Thomas is reminded of the woman's strange fury. And through detailed analysis and a series of blowups, he finds that it wasn't just he, the woman, and her boyfriend in the park: there was also a murderer and a victim.
We don't find out who the murderer or the victim is, by the way - if we did, "Blowup" wouldn't have that same overall feeling of emptiness it holds with such careful restraint. It contains an emptiness not like a hollow Andy Warhol film, but one that reflects a consistent tedium in life. Once Thomas finds that he has discovered a killing, there is a spark of sudden fervor.
In the best scene of the film, Thomas sets every picture of the park side by side, blowup to blowup, making the connection, and we can feel goosebumps creeping up our arms. The scene is edited with seamless energy: the camera pans back in forth between the photos, and finally, plays them in a slide show, with increasing tightness that is just as cloying to us as it is to Thomas.
But "Blowup" shouldn't be mistaken as a murder mystery, because, usually, murder mysteries tell us who was at fault, why it happened. The film is an exercise, a study of the mod culture. The discovery of the death feels like a dramatic event rather than mere plot device. It's like a rock, thrown into a river: at that moment, it creates a rippling effect, creating action everywhere in its wake, only to be covered up once again by the same rat race.
When Thomas actually stumbles upon the body at one point, we come to two conclusions: 1) this man was murdered, in an albeit bloodless way, or 2) he dropped dead, possibly of a heart attack. The latter would certainly explain Vanessa Redgrave's fretful panic. We never truly know. But like "Mulholland Dr." or "L'Avventura" or "La Dolce Vita", there doesn't need to be closure to make a great film. It's our aftertaste that matters, and "Blowup"'s is one of startling obsession.
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