CFS to feature poignant ‘Blow-up’

Daniel Dougherty

Art filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni began his career working as a newspaper film critic in his native northern Italy in the 1930s.

He eventually moved to Rome and worked for the official Fascist film magazine headed by Benito Mussolini’s son, Vittorio.

After moving behind the camera, Antonioni began directing a series of short films in the neo-realist style, which stresses using non-professional actors, on-site location and long, unedited shots.

Antonioni’s renown reached greater heights in the early 1960s with the films “L’Avventura,” “La Notte” and “L’Eclisse,” but it was his first English-language film, “Blow-up,” that introduced his work to most American audiences.

Set in ’60s London, where “mod” culture was in full bloom (think Vespas, pop art, go-go clubs, hip fashion, sex and drugs), “Blow-up” tells the story of a jaded professional photographer (played by David Hemmings) who suffers from a severe case of ennui with his decadent lifestyle.

To ease his boredom, he becomes a bit of a voyeur, taking photos of lovers in compromising situations.

Things take an unexpected turn when he blows up a photo of a woman, played by Vanessa Redgrave, which seems to show a murdered body.

“Blow-up” demonstrates Antonioni’s neo-realistic foundations but incorporates more advanced artistic production techniques.

It also features a concert scene of the Yardbirds, a ’60s band that included rock royalty Jimmy Paige and Jeff Beck.

Antonioni’s work was rewarded with Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay. “Blow-up” is remembered today for its envelope-pushing treatment of sex, drugs, murder and isolation.

It influenced many up-and-coming filmmakers, particularly Francis Ford Coppola and Brian de Palma (who subsequently paid homage to this film with his drama “Blowout”).

Antonioni followed “Blow-up” with other films including “Zabriskie Point,” “The Passenger” and “Beyond the Clouds.” In 1995, he received an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

His final work was a 2004 contribution to the film “Eros.” He passed away on July 30, 2007, at the age of 94. 

The fourth film in this semester’s Cultural Film & Lecture Series, “In Memoriam,” “Blow-up,” will be shown four times in the Connelly Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m.

Admission is free for students with ID and $5 for all others. 

John Carvalho, chair of the philosophy department, will provide an introduction before the Monday viewing and lead a discussion afterward.

For more information, contact the communication department at x9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS Web page: