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A successful mod photographer in London whose world is bounded by fashion, pop music, marijuana, and easy sex, feels his life is boring and despairing. Then he meets a mysterious beauty, and also notices something frightfully suspicious on one of his photographs of her taken in a park. The fact that he may have photographed a murder does not occur to him until he studies and then blows up his negatives, uncovering details, blowing up smaller and smaller elements, and finally putting the puzzle together. Written by
I would recommend that people who are considering watching this film for the first time not read the following. I don't mention the film's ending, I just believe its far more satisfying to let the films potent details nervously sink into place on their own.
It is not about cameras. It is not about seeing. It is about our perception of our individual world. It throws shadows on the very judgments we build our lives upon. Without mentioning the obvious references to illusion (the mimes, the abstract picture of the corpse, etc.), I offer the following expert signposts Antonioni leaves for us to find.
1) The guitar neck David snatches at the rave-up has value only until he is not being chased for it, whereupon he discards it in the street. The pedestrian who then picks it up sees it only as junk.
2) Dialogue with his model friend at the pot party: DAVID - ` I thought you were in Paris.' THE GIRL - `I am'.
3) Appearances and Disappearance (2 of the many). The Lynn Redgrave character pops up as he arrives at his apartment. His question `How did you find me' is not explained. Later in the story, it is notably odd when David wakes up the following morning after the pot party that there is no one to be seen in the party house. Even the decorations like the clothes hung on the statue the night before have vanished.
4) David teaches the affectations of smoking to the woman. She must create an impression.
5) His painter friend describes his painting. `They don't mean anything to me while I work on them. Its only later that I ascribed something to them. Like this leg.' Whereupon he points out a place in a painting that might be a human leg. When he paints, he is tapping subconscious language, something apart from subjective and objective reality. Its as if Antonioni is offering us an even further vantage point to the events to come, dream reality.
6) The rambling diversion of events shows David's inability to `focus' on working through his mystery.
7) So much is hidden from the viewer. Its almost suggested that the real end to the narrative takes place someplace after the movie has already finished, jarring our sense of story, insinuating an ending we never get to `see'.
8) David announces at one point to his friend, `If only I had more money I'd be all right.'. Meanwhile he drives through the whole movie in his Rolls Royce.
This is a very remarkable film. I was irked by the pacing and the diversions as I watched it, but that was exactly why it all kept coming and coming at me for hours after until finally in bed it all rushed through me like a gorgeous musical event. I know for certain there are many more hidden corners to it, but this is what I got in my first viewing. Just that gut feeling that I missed something, I believe, is exactly where Antonioni was going. You always miss something.
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