Saturday, November 03, 2012

"There are Many Here Among Us who Feel that Life is But a Joke"

So, murder is probably pretty important, right? Your reaction to it, upon witnessing it, may well be something you would put right to the top of your agenda for the day. In Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blow-Up, a fashion photographer played by David Hemmings seems like he several times would like to give the murder he witnesses his undivided attention, but a lot happens in his day and nothing seems to seem insignificant to him. The movie's a commentary on mod culture, one that may not have been entirely fair, but if you divorce it from the real life culture it references, it is a beautiful and fascinating film about a society thoroughly losing itself to a dream world.

Every scene, every shot is beautiful, wonderfully composed from the exterior shots which all seem to be location shots to the interior shots made up of the assorted bric-a-brac of the protagonist's collage-like lifestyle. Hemmings' character, as a photographer, has trained himself to always be on the lookout for interesting shots, and this extends to giving him a compulsion to attractive minutia and unusual people.

It's for this reason he follows a strange couple in the park to take pictures of them, Anonioni's own shots beautiful with his characteristic creative placing of the horizon along with diffuse lighting and the spare, organic shape of the park.

It's only later, when he's blown up the photos, that Hemmings learns he's captured shots of the man's murder. He looks at the evidence with growing horror, until a couple would-be models show up and it's time for a groovy ménage-a-trois.

But after that, then--then of course he's very upset by what he sees.

He tells his possibly wife/girlfriend about it, and seems concerned but changes the subject because she needs some advice about her new boyfriend.

We see the superficial but apparently genuine sympathy Hemmings' character has for Vietnam War protestors, though of course it doesn't match the enthusiasm he feels for an old propeller he finds at a pawn shop.

The movie's book ended by the appearance of a truckload of partying mimes, whose deliberate artifice neatly reflects the pantomime lives we've witnessed in the bulk of the movie. But it's not pantomime as in without heart, rather a strange, total devotion to form, arrangement, composition and artifice. The movie's not exactly a condemnation of the photographer and his society. Just a funny and eerie rumination.

No comments:

Post a Comment