‘Blow-Up’: The Importance and Influence of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Stylish, Thought-Provoking Mystery

“In 1966, the Italian maestro Michelangelo Antonioni, already famous as one of the most prominent European auteurs of his time, reached a far wider audience with his second film made in color, and the first one in the English language. There are multiple reasons why Blow-Up achieved the success it did in the sixties and why it’s still considered a landmark movie of the period. On the ground level, the direct consequences are obvious. It was Michelangelo Antonioni’s commercially most successful film. On less than a $2 million budget, it made ten times that much at the box office, and the rising Italian filmmaker suddenly became a commodity sought worldwide, even being offered to direct such blockbusters as Peter Pan afterwards. From a critical point of view, Blow-Up got Antonioni the Palm d’Or at Cannes and two Oscar nominations. Moreover, David Hemmings, who worked on films and theater since the 1950s, achieved stardom with this film, growing into one of the biggest British stars of the decade. But these are just superficial affects visible on the surface. The bang that Blow-Up made and the cut it left were far deeper. Since MGM released the film without the Production Code’s blessing, due to several straightforwardly filmed sex scenes and open representations of the sixties’ decadence, Antonioni’s film utterly undermined the authority of the long-upheld code that finally had to make way for the more nuanced and understanding MPAA rating system. In this way, Blow-Up played a vital role in the liberation of the Anglo-American cinema, freeing artists from the puritan chains that belonged to a locked chest in the basement of history. Simultaneously, the influence that this picture wielded was astonishing, as Blow-Up inspired future generations of filmmakers and artists with its untraditional storytelling, captivating, hallucinating visuals and its deep, thought-provoking attempt at disclosing and exploring the perceptive nature of reality and the often baffling relationship of truth and perception. The two films that followed in Blow-Up’s footsteps and flourished in its tradition were, of course, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Brian De Palma’s Blow-Out, both substituting the photography aspect with their stories of two sound experts. …”
Cinephilia Beyond (Video)

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