Analyzing Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up

Topics: Michelangelo Antonioni, Narrative, Blowup Pages: 5 (1719 words) Published: April 7, 2011
Film 1B03 - T08

Michelangelo Antonioni was an acclaimed Italian film director, revered for his contributions to the discipline of cinema. In many ways, Michelangelo Antonioni has revolutionized the realm of art cinema and is responsible for the foundations that the style now rests upon. One of his most influential films was titled Blow Up. In his first English language film, Antonioni examines themes of perception and reality, especially in regard to society and the individual. This film has continuous markings of an art film from the opening sequence to the final credits. In order to analyze the film’s style we must be aware of the criteria that define and differentiate the art and narrative models. In many art films narrative themes often fail to fully develop and can be eliminated before any meaning is given. Also, art film directors such as Antonioni often choose to film extended sequences and periods of time without the use of dialogue. Similarly, the portrayal of scenery and landscape on a large scale is expected. The use of ambiguity runs rampant within art films such as Blow Up because the plot requires the audience to be confused and withheld of information at times in order for the director to deliver the intended reactions from the audience. Three scenes in particular, Ricky Tick, Finding Ron, and the Tennis Game[1], portray a number of qualities and techniques that are characteristic of an art film.

It is clinical of art films to revolve around realism. This is often continued through the incorporation of ‘realistic’ characters. This concept of realism is portrayed though psychologically complex characters. Central characters in classical films are goal oriented and attempt to complete the narrative aspect of the film. Following a narrative pattern of cause and effect, the audience receive enjoyment in the plot’s completion. Such Hollywood films are enjoyed by many for the brief escape from reality provided by a completed narrative. Opposite to this is the orientation of characters in art film. Characters within art films tend to wander towards a final destination, varying from the straightforward mentality and behavior of their classical counterparts. This lack of definitive desire and goals is an attempt at creating realism. In objection to the typical Hollywood protagonist, leading characters, such as David Hemmings in Blow Up, can seem confused about their purpose and even their own existence.

Within the walls of a London nightclub a band performs to a crowd of emotionless people. Antonioni goes to great lengths, through the use of a wide variety of camera angles, in order to convey to the audience the emotionlessness of the patrons and the eerie atmosphere of the establishment. During this scene, one of the band members, Jeff Beck, attacks his malfunctioning amplifier swiftly followed by the destruction of his guitar. At the sign of guitar fragments being thrown into the audience, the room erupted with desire and determination for the objects. Seemingly in the middle of the chaos, Thomas joins the battle for the broken guitar, eventually leaving the club victorious, only to find himself uninterested in his prize. This sequence of unexplained events is characteristic of an art film because they do not initially, if ever, make sense to the audience for a number of reasons. The scene requires the viewer to interpret the events and relate them to the plot as the film continues. One interpretation of this scene claims that the rigid audience signifies the later reinforced notion of society as collectively removed. This absent behavior and conformity can be related to society’s ignorance toward Hemmings’ possible murder discovery. Further, the uniform reaction to the thrown guitar handle can represent the conformity and false reality that exists within society, pertinent in 1966 and 2009. Although Antonioni employs several wide and longer shots to capture the full density...
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