Plot: What’s it about?
Thomas (David Hemmings) is a photographer by trade, a gifted worker to boot, with a knack for getting the great shots. His camera has snapped images of all kinds, from violence to serene skies to beautiful women. As these photos turn out to be perfect, with excellent subjects and flawless composition, Thomas finds himself in demand. Even so, he is withdrawn from what he shoots and has no real connection with his subjects. In the darker times, he felt no sorrow for what he shot and in the lighter days, the joy didn’t spread to his heart. His personal life seems to be on the same track, as he is involved with numerous women, but hasn’t made a real connection. He throws caution to the wind and lives for the moment, though he remains detached. That soon changes however, once he meets a mysterious woman and takes an unusual photograph. He sees the woman and her beau in the park, so he snaps off a few shots. The woman, Jane (Vanessa Redgrave) chases him down to try to reclaim the photos. But when he enlarges the park photos, Thomas discovers he might have captured more than he planned. The photos reveal some dark images, as if Thomas might have taken pictures of a murder in progress. But do the photos hold such important content, or is Thomas lost in a sea of paranoia and chaos?
If you want by the book suspense, simple characters, and a rational plot, then Blow-Up is not the film you seek. Michelangelo Antonioni directs a movie that relies on visuals, mood, and unusual touches, so typical is not the word to use in this case. There is dialogue and a plot of course, but the focus isn’t on those elements, instead Antonioni chooses to work with style and chaos to craft a unique, memorable picture. The visuals are vital in Blow-Up, as the image is everything within the world inside the film. This leads to some amazing moments, such as the excellent use of still photos, but the unusual approach can leave some viewers cold. After all, some audiences prefer to have a normal narrative to follow. But you won’t find any such devices here, as Antonioni has forced us to lean on the images to draw our perceptions. Blow-Up has fallen out of the spotlight, save for some buzz about Vanessa Redgrave’s breasts, which is a real shame. This is a well crafted, unique movie that deserves a return to the pantheon of elite motion pictures. I know it is one of those “love it or hate it” kind of flicks, but it is a true revelation to experience. I am thrilled to own a lush new widescreen treatment, not to mention some choice supplements. So if you’re interested, Blow-Up is an unusual and highly recommended release.
Video: How does it look?
Blow-Up is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was dazzled by Warner’s work on this release, as this movie has never looked so good on home video. I don’t just mean a nominal improvement either, as this new presentation is head and shoulders above any other version I have seen. The print is in superb condition, as if it were much younger than it is, though some minor flaws do surface at times. The image is quite clean however, which means the visuals aren’t hindered by grain and debris. I found colors to be bright and not faded much, while contrast is smooth and gives us no reason to complain. This new transfer takes a couple decades off the visuals, which is excellent news for fans.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original mono option is included here and while it isn’t too impressive, it is more than up to the needed tasks. I heard minimal hiss and distortion here, so age wasn’t really an issue with this mix, aside from the limitations of mono itself. The music is as full as mono allows, while sound effects are clean and well placed also. I had no trouble with the dialogue either, as vocals seemed crisp and at a proper volume balance, never hard to hear or understand. This disc also contains a French language option, as well as English, Spanish, and French subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You couldn’t ask for a better session than the included commentary track from Peter Brunette, who wrote a book on Antonioni’s pictures. He is well prepared and unleashes an avalanche of insight into the production. He covers Antonioni’s career as a whole also, but makes sure to focus on this film, so it all remains well balanced. This disc also includes an isolated musical track, as well as the film’s teaser and theatrical trailers.