Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Blow-Up (1966)

The US release of Blow-Up (or Blowup - both seem to be used as the title) came in direct defiance of the then-current 'Production Code', due to its for-the-time-explicit sexual content.  That it then proved a monster hit was probably one of the proximate causes of the Production Code's demise two years later and replacement with the current MPAA ratings system.

Said explicit for the time sexual content, by the by, amounts to a few bosoms and some foreplay for a fade-to-black threesome.  Pretty tame really.  As a review on Roger Ebert's site notes, "Much was made of the nudity in 1967, but the (main character's) cruelty toward his models was not commented on; today, the sex seems tame, and what makes the audience gasp is the hero's contempt for women".  I have no qualms in calling that change in attitudes a change for the better.

So what's the film about?  Well ... ennui and misanthropy, maybe.  The film follows a photographer in 60s London.  He seems to hate almost everything except, from time to time, the process of taking and developing photographs.  It's only when he is capturing a shot he truly wants, or making an enlargement of an image that intrigues him, that he shows much sign of enthusiasm for anything.  Even the aforementioned threesome is quickly forgotten when he has photography to do.

What has so captured his attention about these particular photos is that they appear to depict a murder.  He sees something that could be a man with a gun in the bushes, and then a shape that might be a body.  For the first time, something other than his art breaks through his shell and he returns to the park where he took the shots.  There he does indeed find a body, but he gets spooked by noises and flees the scene.

And then ... well and then nothing much else actually happens.  This is a film about how the maybe-murder affects the photographer, not about whether the murder actually happened or who was responsible.  Which, depending on your perspective, might be art; or it might be a cheap way to get out of writing a real ending.

What it definitely is, is a film that I would not recommend.

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