Blow-Up
R4 - Australia - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (4th September 2004).
The Film

Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni has been responsible for a slew of art house Italian films, some of his most memorable include L'Avventura and La Notte but in 1966 he created what some call his greatest work, his first English language film and also his second in colour. Upon release Blow-Up was heralded as a beautiful exploration piece. Winning best picture and director from the National Society of Film Critics and earning two Academy Award nominations for best director and best writing directly for the screen.
As for describing the film the jacket cover for the DVD does it best:
The film follows professional photographer Thomas (David Hemmings) he saw nothing and he saw everything. Enlargements of pictures he secretly took of a romantic couple in the park reveal a murder in progress. Or do they? "Blow-Up" is a stylish study of paranoid intrigue and disorientation. It is also a time capsule of mod London, a mindscape of the era's fashions, free love, parties, music and hip languor. The jaded photographer is enlivened by the mystery in his photos, the elusive woman (Vanessa Redgrave) pictured in them and the enigma of what you see, what you don't see and what the camera sees is yours to solve.
It is no doubt that as a filmmaker Antonioni is a master at his craft, some would call him a genius, but when it comes to this film it's hard to differentiate between the art and the reality, perhaps that's the point he's trying to make. Essentially this film is the epitome of pretentious art house filmmaking. Utilizing linear narrative structure in an almost non-linear way, long often dialogue free set-ups, and random scenes that both subtly and sometimes in a blaringly abstract way comment on the social climate of the times. Blow-Up will inevitably be lost on some people and mainstream audiences will likely find it hard to watch, as the film is slow moving and most will be confused by the mime tennis game ending. Believe me once you've watched this movie aside from the confusion you?ll ask whether this photographer was seeing things? Did what happen actually happen? Was there a body in the first place? One thing is for sure, these questions are never given a straight answer, but they are answered non-the-less, however it's up to the viewer to seek those answers. It almost feels like Antonioni was making a film about paranoid intrigue and disorientation not by examining those themes within the film but by creating a film that would cause the viewer to feel disorientated and also intrigued to find meaning in this piece.

Video

Although the packaging states this film is presented at a 1.37:1 ratio, the film transfer is actually presented in its original widescreen ratio of 1.85:1, this anamorphic image is generally quite good despite its age. The transfer is bright and colours are well represented. Sharpness is not always spot on, there are instances where the image is soft, black levels lack some detail and occasional grain is evident throughout this transfer, aside from this the transfer is more than adequate for this film considering its age.

Audio

This DVD features three audio tracks, an English, French and Italian all in Dolby Digital Mono. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English soundtrack. The audio here is not the best, the dialogue levels fluctuate from audible to sometimes hard to hear, the sound is often tinny and lacks any range. This DVD could have at the very least been given an upgraded stereo mix.
The film also includes subtitles in Arabic, Dutch, English, English for the hearing impaired, French, German, Italian, Italian for the hearing impaired, Romanian and Spanish.

Extras

The first extra we have is the feature-length audio commentary by Antonioni biographer Peter Brunette. After viewing the film I was looking forward to hearing the commentary hopefully in an effort to shed some light on the film, the tracks begins well with Brunette discussing Antonioni's use of imagery and visual clues throughout the film, but unfortunately doesn't go into any real detail aside from observational banter, Brunette's commentary also features many quiet moments as he seems to be watching the film more so than commenting on it, but occasionally something onscreen will spur him on.

Following that is an isolated music only track, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in this track the dialogue and background noise are muted and we only get the music, I found this extra to be rather unnecessary since the film features hardly any music in the first place, for the most part you?re listening to a mute track when on the off occasion you?ll get some music.

The last of the extras are two trailers (although not advertised on the packaging) the first is a teaser trailer followed by the preview theatrical trailer.

Overall

Film buffs and Antonioni fans will likely appreciate this film's release on DVD, but this piece of impressionistic cinema is not for the mass audience. Warner's DVD presents the film with an adequate transfer and less than adequate sound. The Extras are a nice addition but add very little to the overall package. A retrospective documentary about the film would have been a worthwhile addition.

The Film: C+ Video: B Audio: C Extras: C Overall: C

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.