Blow-Up (1966)

blow up poster 1966 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Perfect looking, stylish movie with a lot of ways to interpret

Undefined ending could frustrate some viewers

Movie Info

Movie Name: Blow-Up

Studio: Premier Productions

Genre(s): Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): December 18, 1966 (Premiere)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

blow up david hemmings photographer

Gets off on the power of being a photographer

Popular photographer Thomas (David Hemmings) is an artist that everyone is dying to work with.  When he captures a woman (Vanessa Redgrave) and a man (Ronan O’Casey) in a park, he learns that the woman Julia doesn’t want the photograph seen.  Curious about what he’s caught on camera, Thomas realizes he’s photographed a planned murder, but does the camera ever lie?

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, Blow-Up (sometimes also listed as Blow Up without a hyphen) is a mystery thriller set in London.  Loosely based on a 1959 short story “Las babas del diablo” by Julio Cortázar, the movie featured music by Herbie Hancock and won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.  The film also received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #865).

Blow-Up is one of those classic movies.  Like Rear Window, the story is based on the idea of voyeurism and invasion of privacy.  Unlike Rear Window, Blow-Up goes a different direction which makes the film unique.

blow up david hemmings vanessa redgrave

Nothing more awkward than taking intimate pictures in a park…other than having an intimate hook-up with the lady later that day

The story for Blow-Up seems simple on the surface but is kind of abstract.  Like Thomas, we never get the full story of what he has seen.  You deduce that Redgrave is either plotting the murder of the man with the other man or she is having an affair with him.  The evidence and the body itself disappears.  This leads many to believe that the whole story is concocted in Thomas’s head.  This is idea is bolstered by a group of mimes who demonstrate the idea of “belief into reality” by the end of the movie.  Regardless, the murder is just as real as the imaginary ball because no proof exists of either.

Hemmings is a good lead.  He’s a bit odd with sunken eyes and slim body, but I could totally seem him being a popular photographer that all the girls want to be with.  He’s cocky, arrogant, and likes playing games…and he’s caught in a game as a result.  Hemmings holds the film together but is supported by a nice small cast including Vanessa Redgrave as the possible femme fatale and Sarah Miles as the girl that Hemmings actually likes.  The Yardbirds appear in the film in a club scene where Hemmings is searching for the elusive Redgrave.

blow up photographs

What did he see?

The movie looks great.  It captures the mod world of London of the time.  Movies like Austin Powers have emulated this look and style, but this is the original.  Hemmings drives a hip convertible through the London streets and has models featuring the hottest looks.  It is all shot in a slick style reminiscent of Hitchcock’s thrillers (but also extremely risqué for the time with full frontal nudity).

Blow-Up is a very watchable film.  The movie has lots of insight and different avenues for interpretation which makes it a worthy movie to see and see again.  The film also was influential on other filmmakers with a very similar theme running through Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (this time about audio surveillance) and even Blow Out by Brian De Palma.  With Blow-Up, they create a bit of a trinity of surveillance paranoia and half-truths…check out the original and enjoy.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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