David Hemmings is a jaded photographer plying his trade in Swinging Sixties’ London. Outtaking pictures in a park, he shoots a series of pictures of a couple apparently having anargument. The woman in the pictures (Vanessa Redgrave) subsequently turns up at Hemmings’studio, wanting the pictures back. Even more mysterious is a shot Hemmings took sometimelater, after the argument. Is there a body in the picture? The more he blows up the picture,seeking the answer, the grainie… the picture becomes, and the more elusive the answerbecomes.
Blow-Up is something of a litmus test film. One tends to either love it or loathe it. Ican certainly sympathize with its detractors. Its inconclusive storyline can be infuriating, itslanguorous style can be tedious in the extreme, and it can come across as ham-fistedlypretentious (see, for instance, the juxtaposition of the rampaging youthful mimes with the agedand grey doss-house inhabitants in the opening scene). And I confess that this is, generallyspeaking, the sort of film I have very little time for. All the same, I find Blow-Upcompelling viewing, its chilly cynicism and languor operating like a powerful undertow, andHemmings’ rather objectionable protagonist is the perfect tour guide to the jaundiced Babylon hemoves through.
The mono is clean, but rather weak. The music, which has funky power when playing overthe menu, drops enormously in volume once the movie actually starts. Sound levels all aroundare low, and will have viewers reaching for the volume knob. There is some harshness to thesound, but this is more a factor of the original film, and not the mastering for the disc.
The colours are good, and the blacks are very strong. The edge enhancement is decidedlyminor, and visible only if one really looks for it. There is some flicker, though, and there is quitea bit of grain. On the plus side, there is no speckling to speak of, and the image is pretty sharpfor 1966.
Antonioni biographer and film professor Peter Brunette provides a superb commentary onthe film, analyzing it scene-by-scene, and dealing with the film in some theoretical depth. Heassumes his audience is intelligent. Excellent stuff. There is also an music-only track (for youHerbie Hancock and Yardbirds fans), the theatrical trailer, and the teaser. The menu’s mainscreen is scored.
Love it or hate it, this is an important, landmark film, and Brunette’s commentary shouldhelp make the movie more accessible to new viewers.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Music-Only Track
- Theatrical Trailer