U.K./Italy., 1966, 111 min, 35mm, Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, Not Rated, Warner Bros.
"The film was a surprise hit and ushered in the era of permissive American cinema. For about a decade, thanks to Antonioni, Hollywood movies had permission to be enigmatic, unflinching and adult." - Richard Corliss, Time
How time flies! We're celebrating Blow-Up's 50th anniversary – in 35mm, no less – and it seems like only yesterday that we watched Michelangelo Antonioni's most popular film (and his first in English) for the first time. It's a day in the life of a fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who discovers, after blowing up his photos of a couple in the park, that he may have inadvertently uncovered a murder. Part erotic thriller (with significant glamorous roles played by Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Verushka and Jane Birkin), part exotic travelogue (featuring a Yardbirds concert, antiwar demonstrations, street mimes, one exuberant orgy, and a certain amount of pot), this is so ravishing to look at (the colors seem newly minted) and pleasurable to follow (the enigmas are usually more teasing than worrying) that you're likely to go with the 60s flow, just as the original audiences did. Few films of the time have been as influential. It played a substantial role in putting "swinging London" on the map. It inspired both Coppola's The Conversation and De Palma's Blow Out. It was a critical hit in its own time, winning the coveted Grand Prix at Cannes and earning two Oscar nominations (Best Director and Best Original Screenplay). Arthur Knight called it "as important and germinal a film as Citizen Kane, Open City, and Hiroshima Mon Amour – perhaps even more so." Andrew Sarris called it "a mod masterpiece." Ingmar Bergman (who was not a fan of Antonioni's work) called it a masterpiece ("which I've seen many times") as well. The Swedish master was right: This is a great film that warrants repeated viewings.
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