• Another brilliant work from Antonioni during this streak from L’Avventura to Blow-Up where he made five films in seven years that are either masterpieces or right on the fringe
  • It’s a break for Antonioni in many ways- Michelangelo Antonioni felt that the film marked a “radical” departure from his previous films. “In my other films, I have tried to probe the relationship between one person and another–most often, their love relationship, the fragility of their feelings, and so on. But in this film, none of these themes matters. Here, the relationship is between an individual and reality–those things that are around him. There are no love stories in this film, even though we see relations between men and women. The experience of the protagonist is not a sentimental nor an amorous one but rather, one regarding his relationship with the world, with the things he finds in front of him. He is a photographer. One day, he photographs two people in a park, an element of reality that appears real. And it is. But reality has a quality of freedom about it that is hard to explain. This film, perhaps, is like Zen; the moment you explain it, you betray it. I mean, a film you can explain in words, is not a real film.”
  • First film composed by Herbie Hancock
  • Antonioni and his mise-en-scene detail (this time on location in London)—he spray painted the grass green… effing love it
  • It’s influential- the plot on paper sounds like Hitchcock- (which may be a reason why De Palma remade it). It’s obviously a key film to Francis Ford Coppola as he remade it as well with The Conversation. This (photography), The Conversation (audio tapes) and De Palma’s Blow Out (movie) are all spectacular films that are at or very near masterpieces- that’s beyond belief.
  • Ennui, apathy, nihilism- signature themes and modes from Antonioni—the disappearing of his hero or heroine (or one of) bears his mark as well
  • Huge hit in 1966 because of an accepting audience- this isn’t an audience friendly film. I think the chic setting of swinging London, a fashion photographer, and the rock section were a big part of that hitting home with audiences
  • Monomaniacal- David Hemmings’ Thomas character is a bastard. Hemmings is spectacular here- a great physical performance—he looks like he smells like booze and sex. “I don’t even have a couple of minutes to have my appendix out”  — and he’s buffoonish- he’s so self-serious, he jumps after the ringing phone, skips, he’s compulsive and abusing
  • It’s not nearly as loaded with impressive photographic moments as l’elisse or red desert but every once and awhile we get the flourishes like when Hemmings drives through an entire street painted red
  • 25 minutes in again we’re lacking the interesting shots typical from Antonioni during his rich 1960’s period
  • The park of the incident is a sea of green (Antonioni again and again goes to small figures lost in the maze or sea of grander architecture—this also foreshadows the genius final shot where he does get lost)
  • Fascinating that both this and L’Avventura were hits—I think they’re accidental- worth a paper on it
  • Great shots of door frame like The Searchers framing from inside the antique store
  • Great shot of the camera mounted on the back of his convertible- it does not look like any other car scene in the history of cinema to that point quite literally
  • Vanessa Redgraves back one of the most famous in screen history because of this film
  • The idea behind the film (and I don’t mean the momentum or pace) is genius—it’s an optical illusion, is it a vase or two faces… art vs. realism
  • Thomas (Hemmings here) is one of Antonioni’s great characters—in the middle of telling someone on the phone he saved a girl, the two wannabe models show up and we get the sex sequence and then he goes right back to his obsession over the photos
  • Great sequences of these “blown up” photos surrounding him in his home
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  • The Redgrave disappearing scene is powerful
  • I haven’t fully wrapped my head around it or how it effects the film but it is very much set in 1966. In most films I think this hurts it.
  • Existential
  • The bookends with the rowdy kids driving around and then ending with mimes. Chang-dong Lee’s 2018 film Burning talks about pantomime in a similar way. Intriguing comparison and I haven’t ready that. In the mime scenes here on the tennis court though they are pantomiming it—you can hear the ball hitting the racket—then of course the long shot in the sea of green and he disappears
  • MS/MP