Infobox Film | name = Blowup

caption = "Blowup" DVD cover
director = Michelangelo Antonioni
producer = Carlo Ponti
writer = Michelangelo Antonioni Tonino Guerra Edward Bond (dialogues)
starring = Vanessa Redgrave
David Hemmings
Sarah Miles
music = Herbie Hancock
cinematography = Carlo Di Palma
editing =
distributor = Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
released = United States:
December 18, 1966
United Kingdom:
January, 1967
runtime = 111 min
language = English
budget =
amg_id = 1:60942
imdb_id = 0060176

"Blowup" (as in screen credits, also rendered as "Blow-Up") is an award-winning 1966 British-Italian art film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and was that director's first English language film. It tells the story of a photographer's involvement with a murder case. The film was inspired by the short story "Las Babas del Diablo" ("The Droolings of the Devil") by Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar, and by the work, habits, and mannerisms of Swinging London photographer David Bailey. The film was scored by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, although the music was not in the background, but played on a record by the main character.

"Blowup" stars David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, John Castle, and Jane Birkin. The screenplay was written by Antonioni and Tonino Guerra, with the English dialogue being written by British playwright Edward Bond. The film was produced by Carlo Ponti, who had contracted Antonioni to make three English language films for MGM (the others were "Zabriskie Point" and "The Passenger").


The story concerns a photographer (Hemmings) who may or may not have inadvertently preserved evidence of a murder, which may or may not involve a woman (Redgrave) who visits the photographer in his studio. As is typical with Antonioni films, the story does not follow a conventional narrative structure.

As a professional photographer, the main character mixes with the rich and famous in the London of the sixties. One day he chances upon two lovers in a park and takes photos of them. The woman of the couple pursues him, eventually finding his apartment and desperately trying to get the film. This leads the photographer to investigate the film, making blowups (enlargements) of the photos. This process seems to reveal a body, but the director uses the heavy film grain and black and white imagery to obscure the image. This drives the photographer to keep making blowups and try to find the truth.

He does eventually find the body in the park, but this time, unfortunately and surprisingly, he is without his camera. He tries to get a friend to act as witness, but later the body is gone.

Ultimately, the film is about reality and how we perceive it or think we perceive it. This aspect is stressed by the final scene, one of many famous scenes in the film, when the photographer watches a mimed tennis match and, after a moment of amused hesitation, enters the mimes' own version of reality by picking up the invisible ball and throwing it back to the two players. A tight shot shows his continued watching of the match, and, suddenly, we even hear the ball being played back and forth. Another version of reality has been created. Then, at the very end, Hemmings, standing all alone in the green grass of the park, suddenly disappears, removed by his director, Antonioni.

Celebrity appearances

The film contains appearances from various famous people of the day, and some people who would become famous later.

In a scene near the end, The Yardbirds perform "Stroll On". Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck play side by side until Beck smashes his guitar copying The Who. Michael Palin of Monty Python's Flying Circus fame can be seen very briefly in the crowd in this scene,Fact|date=February 2007 and future media personality Janet Street-Porter can be seen dancing in stripey trousers. As Hemmings enters the club where The Yardbirds are playing, a poster on the entry door with a drawing of a tombstone contains the following epitaph: Here lies Bob Dylan Passed Away Royal Albert Hall 27 May 1966 R.I.P. — an obvious reference to Dylan's use of electric instruments during the performance.

Antonioni had considered using The Velvet Underground in the nightclub scene, but according to guitarist Sterling Morrison, "the expense of bringing the whole entourage to England proved too much for him." [Victor Bockris and Gerard Malanga, "Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story". p. 67. New York: Quill, 1983. ISBN 0-688-03906-5]

The book 'Yardbirds', by John Platt, Chris Dreja and Jim McCarthy, edited in 1983 by Sidgwick and Jackson Ltd. in London, provides another story. According to its writers Antonioni wanted the Who to perform in 'Blow-Up', as he was fascinated by Pete Townshend's guitar-smashing routine of those days. Although smashing up guitars certainly wasn't in the Yardbirds-act, for the occasion Jeff Beck demolished his. However, the guitar given to him for this purpose doesn't look very authentic.

Yet another version of this story comes from Steve Howe, in an interview for Pete Frame's "Rock Family Trees." [Pete Frame, "The Complete Rock Family Trees". p. 55. Omnibus Press, 1993. ISBN 0-7119-0465-0] In this version, the band originally lined up for the film was The In Crowd, and as Howe explains:

Filming locations

The first scene (with the mimes acting) was filmed on the Plaza of The Economist Building (Piccadilly, London, 1959-64, project by Alison and Peter Smithson). The park scenes were filmed at Maryon Park, Charlton, Woolwich, southeast London, and the park is little changed since the making of the film. The street with the many maroon-coloured shop fronts is Stockwell Road, and the shops belonged to motorcycle dealer Pride & Clark. The scene where Thomas sees the mysterious woman from his car, then proceeds to follow her, was shot in Regent Street, London. He stops at [ Street] , where the cover shot of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust LP was later photographed.Fact|date=February 2007 The photographer's studio was filmed at 49 Princes Place, London W11, later to become the studio of architects Richard Rogers, and currently the London office of architects John McAslan + Partners.Fact|date=April 2008


, a key event in the Code's eventual collapse.


Academy Awards

* Nominated: Best Director - Michelangelo Antonioni
* Nominated: Original Screenplay - Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra, Edward Bond

BAFTA Awards

* Nominated: Best British Film - Michelangelo Antonioni
* Nominated: Best British Art Direction (Colour) - Assheton Gorton
* Nominated: Best British Cinematography (Colour) - Carlo Di Palma

Cannes Film Festival

* "Won": Grand Prix - Michelangelo Antonioni

Golden Globe Awards

* Nominated: Best English-Language Foreign Film


Brian De Palma's "Blow Out" (1981), starring John Travolta, which alludes to "Blowup", used sound recording rather than photography as its central motif. In the DVD commentary to his 1974 film "The Conversation", which is also about sound recording, Francis Ford Coppola said he, too, was inspired by "Blow Up" in writing the screenplay. Fact|date=April 2008

In Mel Brooks's film "High Anxiety", a minor plot line involves a bumbling chauffeur who takes a picture showing the evil assassin (wearing a latex mask of Brooks's character's face) firing a gun at point-blank range at someone; he makes blow-ups until he can see the "real" Brooks's character, standing in the elevator in the background. (Technically speaking, the chauffeur does not make blow-ups; the joke is that he simply makes bigger and bigger enlargements until he has one the size of a wall.)

Indie filmmaker Jonathan Blitstein has said that the last scene of his 2007 film "Let Them Chirp Awhile" was trying to evoke the tennis ball scene at the end of "Blowup". Fact|date=April 2008

This film also inspired the Indian movie "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron", in which two photographers inadvertently capture the murder of a city mayor on their cameras and later discover this when the images are enlarged. The park in which the murder occurs is aptly named "Antonioni Park".

The comedy features a parody of the scene in which Hemmings' character photographs a model while barking commands and voicing enthusiasm.

This film also has a heavy influence on the music video for Amerie's "Take Control", from her 2007 album, "Because I Love It". [ [ "NEW RELEASE: Amerie "Take Control""] . Video Static. January 9 2007. Retrieved July 30 2007.]

The opening bassline on the track "Bring Down the Birds" from Herbie Hancock's score served as the centerpiece for the song "Groove is in the Heart" by Deee-Lite.


Further information

* Brunette, Peter. Audio commentary on the 2005 DVD (Iconic Films).
* Hemmings, David. "Blow-Up… and Other Exaggerations: The Autobiography of David Hemmings".

External links

* [ Alternative Film Guide in depth review of film DVD]
* [ Where Did They Film That? — film entry]
* [,4120,1513931,00.html Peter Bowles about Blow-Up's filming]

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title="Grand Prix", Cannes Film Festival
before="A Man and a Woman" tied with
"The Birds, the Bees and the Italians"

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