100 Movies to See Before You Die- “Blow-Up”

I’m going to come right out and say it. I had never heard of this movie so I had no idea what to expect going into it. I always expect a different tone from European movies from the 50s and 60s (Blow-Up is from ’66) than from American movies of the same time, but this one still surprised me. It was directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni and is considered by some to be the film that paved the way for American films to break out of their prudishness. It was also praised by Playboy magazine for this same feat. That should be enough to give you an idea about my thoughts on the movie because if Playboy proclaimed it a masterpiece, odds are that I found it decidedly not so.

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Should this film be considered a classic? Sometimes films are remembered solely because they pushed an envelope. I think that is why “Blow-Up” is remembered and was widely praised by the industry progressives of the time who wanted to be able to show more and more skin on the screen. This was supposedly the film that broke down the conservative sensibilities of Hollywood and the American movie going public. So I can understand why this film is remembered as a milestone in cinema. Unfortunately, I think it was a milestone that was in the wrong direction. The wall that supposedly prevented filmmakers from putting their creative vision on screen had been broken down. Today the subtlety and restraint that was present in films from the 30s, 40s, 50s, and even the early 60s has been replaced with “in your face” violence and sex. While some films require a lack of subtlety to tell their story (i.e. “Saving Private Ryan”), most could do with a good dose of it. So yes, “Blow-Up” is a classic, but not in a good way.

Would I own this film? Nope. I found the story to be meandering and slow with the only truly good part of it being the scenes where the photographer is “blowing up” his pictures and discovering that he had inadvertently witnessed a murder. I found much of the film to be gratuitous and I do not appreciate that this film arguably played a role in getting us to the point where such inane fare as “American Pie gets made. There are far better movies out there and this is definitely one that you do not need to see before you die.

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