Under no circumstances were kids who went to Holy Rosary Convent School supposed to see this movie! David Hemmings is shown carousing with two naked school girls, which was absolutely outrageous for a major 1966 release. When movies as great as "Blow-Up" were condemned from the pulpit, the Catholic Legion of Decency began to lose its clout. Also, Jane Birkin and Gillian Hills were clearly NOT little kids, which was perfectly obvious to any real kid. A slender David Hemmings was at his all-time sexiest here as a selfish photographer (he was mean to his girlfriend, Sarah Miles, made homophobic remarks, etcetera). He photographs a beautiful park and is delighted with the results. But then he notices something. He blows up the images again and again and puts the pictures in sequence to tell a story. And what a story it is. (Not until John Cazale's sound work in 1974's "The Conversation" would the nitty gritty details of work ever seem as fascinating onscreen.)
A desperate Vanessa Redgrave, who was in the park that day, comes to his flat to retrieve the negatives, even if she has to resort to seduction. "Blow-Up" is SO 1966: Verushka, the Yardbirds, the mimes, the fashions, the soundtrack and all the hollow trappings of that so-called swinging year are examined in detail by Antonioni with as much passion as the photographer played so vividly by Hemmings. 1966 may not have been quite like this movie, but Antonioni's vision of the era turned out to be how we would remember it. "Blow-Up" has tremendous repeat value, a gripping story and so many wonderful details that you discover new ones each time you see it.
© 2004 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 12/10/03
UK - 1966