At Zabriskie Point, United States' lowest point, two perfect strangers meet; an undergraduate dreamer and a young hippie student who start off an unrestrained romance, making love on the dusty terrain.
A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
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
David Hemmings was amazed at Michelangelo Antonioni's energy and stamina throughout the production. "I was an energetic 25-year-old - probably more so than most - and I was fascinated by the way Antonioni, at 54, could operate around the clock and still sustain a momentum he needed to get him through the production," he said. "It seemed that, however late he'd gone to bed the night before, he appeared on the set each morning as bright-eyed as a bantam cock, and just as well-groomed...For a man of his age, he was impressively eager for new experiences. I think perhaps he was a little in thrall to the idea of 'swinging London' and even once shooting had started, he spent a great deal of time hanging around in search of oscillation, often with photographers and models. Perhaps he considered it all research, but in his quest he raved ceaselessly, night after night in clubs and discotheques, in the company of the new goddesses of the fashion world, with his fierce eyes shining intensely in the dark, grave face as he drank grappa till his ears bubbled and tried to extract every last ounce from the swinging city - a man from Rome, a modern Bellini, determined to leave his mark in the middle of the liberated new world." See more »
During the scene where Thomas is frolicking with the two girls on the purple paper backdrop in the studio, two crew members including a camera operator can be clearly seen just sitting there in the top right side of the frame. See more »
Give me your money. Do it.
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CBS edited 14 minutes from this film for its 1973 network television premiere. See more »
Some interpret this existential film to mean that human reality is defined in the context of the group, not the individual. Hence, in the film, to Thomas (David Hemmings), the murder did occur. But, the murder's "reality" is objective only if Thomas can verify it through someone else's experience. Otherwise, Thomas' observed event is subjective and problematic. Each individual thus sees through a glass darkly ... even when the glass is an "objective" camera lens. Ironically, the same could be said for Antonioni.
This film came out only three years after the JFK assassination. I find it hard to believe that that event did not play into this film to some extent. There are all kinds of references to the assassination: the grassy area and picket fence; photographic evidence of a "badge man" character with gun hiding in the bushes; the subsequently developed pictures having been presumably stolen or altered as part of some conspiracy. It's almost as if Thomas and his camera represent the Zapruder film component of the assassination. Indeed, the causal "reality" of the JFK murder was, and still is, to some extent a function of human perception, derived from an interpretation of what the camera sees.
"Blowup" is unlike most films. There are long takes, with minimal editing. This gives the film a slow, meandering feel. Dialogue is minimal. Natural sounds override music, throughout. And like other Antonioni films, this one is mostly visual. The cinematography is striking.
Another characteristic is that the film is not plot intensive. Nor are the characters sympathetic. Thomas is not at all likable. And other characters are mere mannequins. I question whether Antonioni needed two hours to convey his message. More of a plot might have reduced the need for so much seemingly irrelevant filler.
"Blowup" is mostly for viewers who like unconventional, arty films that impart abstruse philosophical "meaning". The film is therefore aimed at people who like to think and ponder.
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