Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Great Moments in Movie Shelves #121

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Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 masterpiece Blow-Up is nominally a murder mystery, but it's a murder mystery that the leading man  Thomas (played with devilish distraction by David Hemmings) can't seem to keep himself all that interested in. Why would he when he's smack-dab in Swinging 60s London and there's sexy birds about?

Nowhere is this more evident than in this sequence towards the end that begins with him finding his apartment robbed, wanders through a rock concert, and lands in a drug den where his agent Ron (Peter Bowles) and the supermodel Verushka are getting stoned.

"I thought you were supposed to be in Paris?"
"I am in Paris."

Priorities, man. That line typifies the sorts of responses that Thomas gets when he bothers asking questions though - how can you solve a mystery when nothing matters? When the bottom's dropped out of meaning itself? The film opens up with Thomas leaving a factory dressed as a coal-mining working-man...

... and only about an hour later do we find out that he was in there secretly shooting men in the changing room for his book. Nothing gay about that!

Every time I watch this movie Thomas seems a little queerer to me (in the "he probably also has sex with men" sense) - there's a long shot where he cruises the "queers and poodles" while checking out the antiques store he might buy. And to bring us back to the start...

... there's his weirdly drawn relationship with his agent, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Across the length of the film Thomas is always dominating women, but he's always in a submissive pose when big burly bearded Peter Bowles is around.

And so instead of bothering to work out the murder mystery that he's spent the majority of the past hour, in fits and starts anyway, pushing around the clues to, Thomas just...

... wanders off to do who knows what with Big Ron...

... and wakes up the next morning having put the entire experience behind him. There are probably a few ways to read the final scene of the movie immediately following this and which involves some mimes playing tennis...

(god I love this movie) 

... but I think the safest interpretation is that we see what we want to see, believe what we want to believe, and make whatever truth we want out of the world in front of us. And that changes from room to room, and depends entirely on who's looking at us. We are but the moment, and even that's open to interpretation.


2 comments:

Mary Clancy said...

David Hemmings

JA said...

RIGHT thanks!