Blow-Up is one of those sharply divisive films that is as loved as it is hated. It demands the viewer do a lot of work, and then it refuses to give you any sort of obvious pay-off for what you contribute. The murder will never be solved. Thomas will never come to any sort of revelation about himself. No one will ever step forward and give some well-written soliloquy explaining the film’s meaning. If you’re not prepared for it, the whole thing could be a bit of a let-down. However, the movie’s power is in its ability to linger. Blow-Up has the ability to stick in your mind, to make you think as you are watching it that there is more at work than what you are seeing. Antonioni doesn’t just make you ponder the theme; he makes you part of it. He makes you feel it. The film becomes increasingly haunting and hypnotic the further away from it you get. You become Thomas, only hopefully without the various aspects of his character that make him a bit of a prick at times.
Me, watching Blow Up (1966) for the first time, in 2008:
Again: are we simply recalling another baffling murder in broad daylight in a grassy public spot, starring a brownhaired woman scrambling for safety, a murder also devoid of dramatic music, a pat solution and a happy ending? (…)
The uncredited star of Blowup is the persistent sound of wind rattling tree branches, ominously signally a storm that never comes. That signature sound is lovingly referenced in dePalma’s tribute to Blowup, Blow Out; but being a 70s Hollywood thriller in the “paranoid style”, Blow Out is a traditional Hitchcockian whodunnit, with clues and chases and a satisfying if cynical finale. (…)
What effect did the Blitz have on Hemming’s character, who would have been a child during the bombings? Does it explain his dead affect and his compulsion to roam about aimlessly from one location to the next? (…)
(Hemming’s gait in Blowup is ingenious, btw: somehow his legs drag slightly even when he’s running, as if he’s reluctant to get to where he’s going, for fear of what he’ll see, but can’t stop himself, either.) (…)
This London is swinging from the end of a rope.