Blow-Up (1966)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Blow-Up Photos

Movie Info

Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni's first English-language production was also his only box office hit, widely considered one of the seminal films of the 1960s. Thomas (David Hemmings) is a nihilistic, wealthy fashion photographer in mod "Swinging London." Filled with ennui, bored with his "fab" but oddly-lifeless existence of casual sex and drug use, Thomas comes alive when he wanders through a park, stops to take pictures of a couple embracing, and upon developing the images, believes that he has photographed a murder. Pursued by Jane (Vanessa Redgrave), the woman who is in the photos, Thomas pretends to give her the pictures, but in reality, he passes off a different roll of film to her. Thomas returns to the park and discovers that there is, indeed, a dead body lying in the shrubbery: the gray-haired man who was embracing Jane. Has she murdered him, or does Thomas' photo reveal a man with a gun hiding nearby? Antonioni's thriller is a puzzling, existential, adroitly-assembled masterpiece. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
MGM

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Cast

Sarah Miles
as Patricia
Jane Birkin
as The Blonde
Tsai Chin
as Thomas's Receptionist
Gillian Hills
as The Brunette
Jimmy Page
as Himself with The Yardbirds
Harry Hutchinson
as Shopkeeper
Jeff Beck
as Himself
Susan Broderick
as Antique Shop Owner
Ronan O'Casey
as Jane's Lover in Park
Susan Brodrick
as Antique Shop Owner
Chris Dreja
as Himself
Mary Khal
as Fashion Editor
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News & Interviews for Blow-Up

Critic Reviews for Blow-Up

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (8)

A prize '60s artifact, Michelangelo Antonioni's what-is-truth? meditation on Swinging London is a movie to appreciate -- if not ponder.

Full Review… | February 4, 2013
Village Voice
Top Critic

In Blow-Up [Antonioni] smothers this conflict in the kind of pompous platitudes the press loves to designate as proper to "mature," "adult," "sober" art.

Full Review… | February 4, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

This is so ravishing to look at (the colors all seem newly minted) and pleasurable to follow (the enigmas are usually more teasing than worrying) that you're likely to excuse the metaphysical pretensions.

Full Review… | July 31, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

There may be some meaning, some commentary about life being a game, beyond what remains locked in the mind of film's creator, Italian director-writer Michelangelo Antonioni. But it is doubtful that the general public will get the 'message' of this film.

Full Review… | July 31, 2007
Variety
Top Critic

As often with Antonioni, a film riddled with moments of brilliance and scuppered by infuriating pretensions.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The natural world is arrayed against the artificial scene; conscience is deployed against convention. If you've never seen Blow-Up, see it now, if only to see what part of the world was like 40 years ago.

Full Review… | June 7, 2006
New York Observer
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Blow-Up

A well to-do artist finds that being well to-do doesn't forego the suffering latent in the job description: there are endless streams of pretty young things to despoil("they don't leave me alone!"), the unruly lower classes ("they can't get anything right!"), and maybe there was that murder he filmed in the park yesterday ... Antonioni musings on the act of artistic creation are similar to Frankenstein wherein what was formed might come back to kill you. The cast is very good, and the filming astounding for its time period. The 60's come off looking better than perhaps in any other film. Swinging London before Austin Powers laffed at it.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

A lot of people say that this is Michelangelo Antonioni's best movie and also far superior to Brian DePalma's semi re-imagining. I would have to say that I disagree severely on both accounts. While this has an interesting basic concept and some of those great longshots that Antonioni is famous for, the overall execution and plot doesn't really go anywhere and the characters are anything but interesting to watch. If you love sleazy/cocky British photographers, then you'd be in heaven. However, I found no interest in his conflict. I would say that by far my favorite part about the movie is the fact that you see the attempted murder without even knowing you do, that is pretty clever. Now Brian DePalma took this idea and perfected it, while also putting his spin on it. Blow Out is by far the better work here in just about every way possible. Better acting and characters, imagery and shot technique that is completely revolutionary and memorable to say the least, but most importantly it has one of the greatest plot structures of any thriller. This movie is all over the place and ultimately blocks itself in.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

½

Antonioni's Blow-Up was the biggest hit of the Italian director's career, the superficial elements of the fashion world, Swinging London and orgies on purple paper ensuring its commercial success. Models such as Veruschka (who appears in the film), Twiggy and fashion photographers at the time have complained about its unrealistic depiction of the industry and claimed that its central character, Thomas (played by the late David Hemmings) was clearly based on David Bailey. To look at Blow-Up as an analysis of the fashion business in the Sixties is to misunderstand the film's intentions. In any case, when watching this film it may be difficult to tell what its all about if you're unfamiliar with Antonioni's films but it obviously has little to do with the fashion world which is merely the setting for the story and nothing more. Antonioni made the clearest statement of his motivation as a filmmaker at the end of Beyond the Clouds when he talked about his belief that reality is unattainable as it is submerged by layers of images which are only versions of reality. This is a rather pretentious way of saying that everyone perceives reality in their own way and ultimately see only what they want to see. With this philosophy in mind, Blow-Up is probably Antonioni's most personal film. Thomas' hollow, self-obsessed world is shattered when he discovers that he may have photographed a murder when casually taking pictures in a park. He encounters a mysterious woman, Jane (Vanessa Redgrave) who demands he hand over the film and when he refuses she appears at his studio, although Thomas never told her his address. When the evidence disappears shortly afterwards, Blow-Up seems to deal in riddles that have no solution. Redgrave re-appears and then vanishes before the photographer's eyes, Thomas returns to the park without his camera and sees the body. The film concludes with Thomas, having discovered the body has disappeared, watching a group of mimes playing tennis without a ball or rackets in the park where the murder may have taken place. It is only in the final scene of the film where the riddle is solved. Thomas throws the imaginary ball back into the court and watches the game resume. The look of realisation on his face is all too apparent as the game CAN BE HEARD taking place out of shot. There is a ball, there are rackets and this is a real game of tennis. What we have seen up until this point is the photographer's perception of reality: the murder, the mysterious woman in the park, the photographic evidence and the body. The following exchange between Hemmings and Redgrave is the key to the film: Thomas: Don't let's spoil everything, we've only just met. Jane: No, we haven't met. You've never seen me.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

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