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Blow-Up Reviews

Pop-culture icon that has become a cult classic. Antonioni's adaptation of Cortazar's short story is an engrossing study of imagery and one's perception of the image. Set against the backdrop of 1960s London, BLOWUP follows fashionable young photographer Hemmings as he passively snaps his way through a world of drugs, models and parties. While wandering through a quiet park, he begins taking photos of two lovers embracing. One of them, Redgrave, chases after him and demands that he return the negatives. Later, after developing the photos, Hemmings thinks he sees something in the background--a man with a gun aimed at the back of Redgrave's partner. Returning that evening to the park, Hemmings finds the man's corpse. But the following morning, when he revisits the scene, the corpse has vanished . . . In its time one of the most financially successful art films ever made, BLOWUP marked Antonioni's leap into the commercial arena, after an early career largely confined to film festivals. From the perspective of the 90s, though, it's hard to see what all the fuss was about. The "swinging 60s" stuff looks as dated as the Herbie Hancock score sounds, Hemmings is a difficult actor to care about, and the neo-surrealist touches are downright irritating. There are moments of humor, though it's hard to gauge how many of them are intentional. Jane Birkin makes her screen debut, as one of the two giggling teenagers who "wrestle" with Hemmings.