Posted by Larry Gleeson
Restored by the Cineteca di Bologna, Istituto Luce Cinecittà and Criterion, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Circus Park and at the Criterion and The Picture Ritrovata laboratories, under the supervision of cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, presented at the seventieth edition of the Cannes Festival on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the victory of the Palme d’Or, Blow Up by Michelangelo Antonioni is also one of the appointments which concludes the Cinema Ritrovato Festival.
Inspired by the short story The burrs of the devil Argentine Julio Cortázar, Blow Up arises at a great distance from the narrative – understood as interweaving, in order to exclusively communicate a sense of mystery and ambiguity. The poetry that “tends to promote the interpreter acts of conscious freedom”, drawn up by Umberto Eco in The Open Work (1962), found with the Antonioni film a true cinematic demonstration: determining an emotional and mental disorientation. Blow Up forces the viewer to question the meaning of the vision through aesthetic and philosophical questions put in the form of allegories.
The story takes place in London in the sixties, the “swinging London,” symbol of a new modernity in which the opposition between conservation and rebellion is in continuous turmoil and the image is the main communication vehicle through mass media, magazines , billboards, shows, models, abstract art. Thomas, the photographer, takes some pictures in a park of a couple in love and, while developing them notices he may have photographed a murder. While trying to uncover the truth, it turns away from him enough to make him believe he had imagined it all. “The crisis of the character in the film was a bit “of me” said Antonioni, who made the protagonist of Blow Up an alter ego of himself and part of his aesthetic research. Though the eyes of Thomas, almost never taken subjectively, comes a way for the director to investigate empirical reality with the meticulousness of an explorer. In contrast, however, the film’s images show that every search for meaning is bound to get lost in the multiplicity of meanings and interpretations.
The sensory experience is inevitably a source of deception. Thomas thinks that he, through the magnification, blow up, can overcome the limitations of his eyes and lens but what we get is a blur: the successive enlargements show only, gigantic, whites and blacks grains of the film. The maximum objectivity, namely the photographic reproduction of the real, therefore, coincides with the indecipherable. The “yellow” to Blow Up does not lead to unravel a murder and unmask a murderess since the mystery around the whole story only intends to prove that the truth does not exist.
They have the art insights, subjective interpretations, aesthetic sublimation but the objective reality to which they refer is substantially undefined and elusive. The tennis match of the final allegory expresses this concept – that what is at stake, in addition to the eye, and, even the imagination of the observer is just an interpretation. Art must surrender to fiction. The mimes play without the ball or racket while Thomas now convinced he had imagined it all, hears the noise of the ball from the nonexistent rackets. As correctly pointed out. Roland Barthes talks about Antonioni: “He, the artist, knows the meaning of a thing is not the truth.”
Thanks to theoretical contents capable of dialogue with the modern society of images, where reality always eats more virtual content, Blow Up, makes it incredibly fascinating to present a meditation on the impossibility of tracing a line between reality and fiction.