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David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Peter Bowles, John Castle ... see more see more... , Jane Birkin , Gillian Hills , Jill Kennington , Veruschka von Lehndorff , The Yardbirds , Peggy Moffitt , Ann Norman , Julian Chagrin , Jeff Beck , Susan Broderick , Tsai Chin , Harry Hutchinson , Ronan O'Casey , Jimmy Page

Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni's first English-language production was also his only box office hit, widely considered one of the seminal films of the 1960s. Thomas (David Hemmings) is a nihi... read more read more...listic, wealthy fashion photographer in mod "Swinging London." Filled with ennui, bored with his "fab" but oddly-lifeless existence of casual sex and drug use, Thomas comes alive when he wanders through a park, stops to take pictures of a couple embracing, and upon developing the images, believes that he has photographed a murder. Pursued by Jane (Vanessa Redgrave), the woman who is in the photos, Thomas pretends to give her the pictures, but in reality, he passes off a different roll of film to her. Thomas returns to the park and discovers that there is, indeed, a dead body lying in the shrubbery: the gray-haired man who was embracing Jane. Has she murdered him, or does Thomas' photo reveal a man with a gun hiding nearby? Antonioni's thriller is a puzzling, existential, adroitly-assembled masterpiece. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

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85% liked it

27,914 ratings


85% liked it

40 critics

DVD Release Date: February 17, 2004

Stats: 1,646 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (1,646)

  • July 31, 2007
    There is this one camera sequence that I love. Towards the end of the film the David Hemmings character goes back to the park to find the body gone. From his knees he looks up to the rustling leaves and the camera cuts to a shot of the leaves, apparently from his perspective bu... read moret then the camera slowly pans down to Hemmings now standing in completely different spot. Gives me the willies every time.
  • December 6, 2012
    A well to-do artist finds that being well to-do doesn't forego the suffering latent in the job description: there are endless streams of pretty young things to despoil("they don't leave me alone!"), the unruly lower classes ("they can't get anything right!"), and maybe there was ... read morethat murder he filmed in the park yesterday ... Antonioni musings on the act of artistic creation are similar to Frankenstein wherein what was formed might come back to kill you. The cast is very good, and the filming astounding for its time period. The 60's come off looking better than perhaps in any other film. Swinging London before Austin Powers laffed at it.
  • March 22, 2011
    A lot of people say that this is Michelangelo Antonioni's best movie and also far superior to Brian DePalma's semi re-imagining. I would have to say that I disagree severely on both accounts. While this has an interesting basic concept and some of those great longshots that Anton... read moreioni is famous for, the overall execution and plot doesn't really go anywhere and the characters are anything but interesting to watch. If you love sleazy/cocky British photographers, then you'd be in heaven. However, I found no interest in his conflict. I would say that by far my favorite part about the movie is the fact that you see the attempted murder without even knowing you do, that is pretty clever.
    Now Brian DePalma took this idea and perfected it, while also putting his spin on it. Blow Out is by far the better work here in just about every way possible. Better acting and characters, imagery and shot technique that is completely revolutionary and memorable to say the least, but most importantly it has one of the greatest plot structures of any thriller. This movie is all over the place and ultimately blocks itself in.
  • February 10, 2011
    Antonioni's Blow-Up was the biggest hit of the Italian director's career, the superficial elements of the fashion world, Swinging London and orgies on purple paper ensuring its commercial success.

    Models such as Veruschka (who appears in the film), Twiggy and fashion photographe... read morers at the time have complained about its unrealistic depiction of the industry and claimed that its central character, Thomas (played by the late David Hemmings) was clearly based on David Bailey.

    To look at Blow-Up as an analysis of the fashion business in the Sixties is to misunderstand the film's intentions. In any case, when watching this film it may be difficult to tell what its all about if you're unfamiliar with Antonioni's films but it obviously has little to do with the fashion world which is merely the setting for the story and nothing more.

    Antonioni made the clearest statement of his motivation as a filmmaker at the end of Beyond the Clouds when he talked about his belief that reality is unattainable as it is submerged by layers of images which are only versions of reality.

    This is a rather pretentious way of saying that everyone perceives reality in their own way and ultimately see only what they want to see.

    With this philosophy in mind, Blow-Up is probably Antonioni's most personal film.

    Thomas' hollow, self-obsessed world is shattered when he discovers that he may have photographed a murder when casually taking pictures in a park. He encounters a mysterious woman, Jane (Vanessa Redgrave) who demands he hand over the film and when he refuses she appears at his studio, although Thomas never told her his address.

    When the evidence disappears shortly afterwards, Blow-Up seems to deal in riddles that have no solution. Redgrave re-appears and then vanishes before the photographer's eyes, Thomas returns to the park without his camera and sees the body. The film concludes with Thomas, having discovered the body has disappeared, watching a group of mimes playing tennis without a ball or rackets in the park where the murder may have taken place.

    It is only in the final scene of the film where the riddle is solved. Thomas throws the imaginary ball back into the court and watches the game resume. The look of realisation on his face is all too apparent as the game CAN BE HEARD taking place out of shot.

    There is a ball, there are rackets and this is a real game of tennis. What we have seen up until this point is the photographer's perception of reality: the murder, the mysterious woman in the park, the photographic evidence and the body.

    The following exchange between Hemmings and Redgrave is the key to the film:

    Thomas: Don't let's spoil everything, we've only just met.

    Jane: No, we haven't met. You've never seen me.
  • December 9, 2010
    I was so confused by this movie. I know it has to do with a photographer who thinks he's taken a picture of a murder, but after that, I get lost. Antonioni has a good style, but he needs to work on the story more in this one.
  • November 8, 2010
    Bravo!!! A portrait of the disengaged, nameless, fashionable scene in 1960's London. Antonioni is one of the few directors that creates compelling narrative from the environment, structure, framing and color. The photographer is the ultimate voyeur. The montage is disconcertin... read moreg, forcing reorientation and reinterpretation, underscoring further questioning of reality. The final images linger in my imagination, becoming embedded in consciousness, defying conceptions and redefining reality.
  • September 21, 2010
    Existential hogwash. Vanessa's part is small. The most notable thing about it is the absence of a music score which adds a certain uniqueness to it but not enough to make it tolerable.
  • March 6, 2010
    Writer/Director Michelangelo Antonioni tells the story of a disaffected young photographer in "swinging sixties" London who believes he's witnessed a murder, only by the time he actually begins to care about the crime he's witnessed, it seems to evaporate from existence right bef... read moreore his eyes. The photographer is a self-absorbed character who can't seem to relate to anyone on a personal level. He treats women like objects, and he becomes fascinated with shiny objects that catch his eye, only to disregard them later. But it's not just him. When he attends a Yardbirds concert, the audience in attendance is completely unmoved by the music, neither dancing nor even nodding their heads in time. It's not until guitarist Jeff Beck smashes his guitar in a fit of anger over the malfunctioning instrument that the crowd erupts, spurned on perhaps by the violence only. The photographer gets a piece of the guitar, fighting off scores of London hipsters, and yet, once outside the frenzy of the club, he tosses it aside indifferently, the guitar only had meaning in the context of the club. It's one of many scenes that demonstrate either the photographer's lack of connection to the human experience, or a lack of a human experience to connect to. Don't be mislead by the murder aspect or the gruesome dead body, this is no thriller or mystery. It's more like an indictment. The way the group of traveling mimes bookends the movie only seems to heighten the sense of triviality to life, and gives us cause to question reality versus point-of-view. The mimes play tennis with an invisible ball, but whether the ball is there or not, they're still playing the game.
  • March 2, 2010
    Antonioni's greatest work. His amazing visual and verbal emphasis on the environment surrounding Thomas, Without a great deal of action, mystery, or explosive dialogue, this film is riveting and fascinating. A must see.
  • September 25, 2009
    Most overrated film of all time. I found it dull beyond belief with the only good bit being the photo scene!

Critic Reviews

J. Hoberman
February 4, 2013
J. Hoberman, Village Voice

A prize '60s artifact, Michelangelo Antonioni's what-is-truth? meditation on Swinging London is a movie to appreciate -- if not ponder. Full Review

Pauline Kael
February 4, 2013
Pauline Kael, The New Republic

In Blow-Up [Antonioni] smothers this conflict in the kind of pompous platitudes the press loves to designate as proper to "mature," "adult," "sober" art. Full Review

Jonathan Rosenbaum
July 31, 2007
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

This is so ravishing to look at (the colors all seem newly minted) and pleasurable to follow (the enigmas are usually more teasing than worrying) that you're likely to excuse the metaphysical pretensi... Full Review

Variety Staff
July 31, 2007
Variety Staff, Variety

There may be some meaning, some commentary about life being a game, beyond what remains locked in the mind of film's creator, Italian director-writer Michelangelo Antonioni. But it is doubtful that th... Full Review

Geoff Andrew
June 24, 2006
Geoff Andrew, Time Out

As often with Antonioni, a film riddled with moments of brilliance and scuppered by infuriating pretensions. Full Review

Andrew Sarris
June 7, 2006
Andrew Sarris, New York Observer

The natural world is arrayed against the artificial scene; conscience is deployed against convention. If you've never seen Blow-Up, see it now, if only to see what part of the world was like 40 years ... Full Review

Roger Ebert
January 20, 2006
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Whether there was a murder isn't the point. The film is about a character mired in ennui and distaste, who is roused by his photographs into something approaching passion. Full Review

Bosley Crowther
May 20, 2003
Bosley Crowther, New York Times

This is a fascinating picture, which has something real to say about the matter of personal involvement and emotional commitment in a jazzed-up, media-hooked-in world so cluttered with synthetic stimu... Full Review

February 4, 2013
Total Film

Inspiring everyone from Francis Ford Coppola to Mike Myers, Michelangelo Antonioni's arty thriller remains an absorbing, eerie enigma. Full Review

Kim Newman
February 4, 2013
Kim Newman, Empire Magazine

Despite its thriller hook, Blow-Up is less a mystery than a portrait of swinging alienation. Full Review

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Blow-Up Trivia

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