BU Film School

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

FT 540 Reading: Blow-Up

Screenplay info
Written by: Michelangelo Antonioni and Tonino Guerra, based on a short story by Julio Cortázar
Film info: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0060176
Filmsite.org link: http://www.filmsite.org/blow.html

Students in bizarre clothes and white face makeup are driving around.

Down-and-out hostel. Men, including Thomas, walk towards a railway bridge. He parts ways, ends up in Rolls-Royce, stopped by students, gives them money. He goes to studio (calling in over a radio-telephone), locks camera in car, takes film in, and gives it to his assistant for development.

Thomas has a shoot with a model, who'd been kept waiting for nearly an hour. He arranges things, her. They get excited. Phone call -- address of junk shop.

Film developed -- pictures of tramps. He gives clothes to be burned.

Another shoot with five models, behind panes of smoked glass. Very bossy with these, gives lots of instructions, hectors them. Close your eyes (woman dresser too).

Thomas throws clothes in rubbish bin, goes to see Bill, who's looking at painting. "They don't mean anything when I do them -- juast a mess. Afterwards I find something to hang onto ... And then it sorts itself out." Bill won't sell or give away one of his other (dotty) paintings. Thomas jokes to Patricia about sneaking in and stealing it.

Thomas back at studio. Two girls waiting for him -- just want a couple of minutes. Thomas -- don't come. Gets prints, makes to leave. Models still waiting? "Tell them to shut them [eyes] again." Girls run after his car, he pays no heed.

Thomas drives. All houses on one street are red. Drives as if improvising. Goes to junk shop. Old man no help -- no pictures -- no landscapes -- all sold.

Thoams takes out camera, shoots antique shop. Goes to park, shoots pigeons. Notices man and girl, follows them, takes pictures. Is noticed. He goes, girl goes after him and confronts. She wants photos, but he refuses. Man has disappeared. Girl runs, stops near clump of bushes, runs on. Thomas takes few more photos.

Thomas back at antique shop. Owner, girl, is there. Why selling? Try something different. Thomas buys propeller, tries to load in Rolls-Royce, girl dissuades him. Is too heavy for her to carry alone, but he leaves her with it.

Thomas meets Ron about book -- look at tramp photos. Says photos in park very peaceful, in contrast to rest of book (violence). Thomas spots man spying on him, then trying to open his car. Anti-war demonstration. Girl puts placard on car, he secures sign, but it flies off and is driven over. Shots of Thomas -- looks like he's being tailed.

Thomas back at studio. Girl's come for the photographs. Plays game -- listening to music, smoking, treating her like one of his models. She asks for water, he goes. She picks up camera, goes toward downstairs door, is intercepted by Thomas. She undoes blouse, he tells her to get dressed. He goes into darkroom, takes reel from camera, hesitates, hides it and takes another roll of film, which he tosses to her. They share two kisses. He leads her to bedroom. Doorbell rings. It's the propeller delivery. Girl still in sexy mood, but sees watch, starts to hurry off. She gives him phone number.

Thomas develops negatives. Series of shots of him examining photos, enlarging areas, looking closer, etc. He calls phone number, it's a fake. More blow-ups -- has put together whole episode (he thinks). Thomas calls Ron - says he saved guy's life. Interrupted by the two girls from earlier (blonde, brunette). They try on clothes. All three have mock fight, strip clothes, have sex. Thomas notices another photograph. They linger, but he tells them to come back tomorrow, and they leave. Thomas makes one more blow-up -- corpse.

At night, Thomas drives to the park, finds dead man. Hears sound, runs out. Back at studio, lets himself into Bill's house, sees Bill and Patricia in bed. She nods at him to stay. He tries to focus on other things. He leaves, goes back into studio. All negatives, blow-ups gone except extreme close-up of corpse. Patricia comes -- asks him about photo, which she says resembles one of Bill's paintings. "You didn't see." She asks him for help, but doesn't say why, and he doesn't say yea or nay.

Thomas calls Ron, then drives out. He sees girl, chases. Goes into rock club. No one moves (look like mannequins) except for one dancing couple. Guitarist smashes guitar on troublesome amp, throws piece into audience. People fight for it. Thoams gets it, rushes out, drops piece on ground. Passerby picks it up, then drops it.

Thomas goes to party, finds Ron with pot smokers. Tells him about corpse, but Ron's not responsive, doesn't care. Ron leads Thomas into other room. Thomas wakes up -- house in confusion.

Thomas back at park. Corpse no longer there, no traces. Students drive to tennis courts. Boy, girl mime game. Thomas gets into it. Throws back imaginary ball. Sounds grow more distinct, become tennis ball. Thomas alone in park, seen from above.

My notes
-- again, photographer as voyeur -- even catches Bill and Patricia in bed
-- arrogrant -- assumes he has control, but doesn't
-- no closure for crime -- no evidence even that it happened
-- party and tennis game -- surreal
-- subjects of photos don't matter to Thomas -- all the same importance

FT 540 notes (from 06/10/03)
-- Antonioni rehung leaves, repainted grass
-- Antonioni started as writer, wrote Fellini's first two films. Highly personal works, alienated figures. Self-definition. Interested in relationships. Man/woman -- could be compatible with nobody. Short story writer -- Argentine surrealist. Based on British mod photographer.
-- treats five models like mannequins
-- what are values in Blow Up? Instant gratification. No consequence to anyone's actions. Corpse, photos gone. Values no longer have relevance. Don't even know what Patricia's problem is (Thomas doesn't know, doesn't care). He wasn't looking for anything. Watching protagonist watching sex. Shoot with model, on top with camera. Self-gratification is taking pictures.
-- irony -- photos of men on dole just gorgeous subject matter. Empty propeller goes nowhere, but looks nice. Must have right now.


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