‘Blow-up’: From Modernism to Postmodernism depicting the transition by astonishing Antonioni
what is the purpose of art?
What are the similarities between Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Brian De Palma’s Blow-Out …
Yes, you guess it right both of them are inspired by the 1966 movie Blow-up directed by none other than Michael Angelo Antonioni. This picture inspired so many other next-gen filmmakers and artists through its untraditional storytelling, captivating, hallucinating visuals, and deep, a thought-provoking attempt at disclosing and exploring the perceptive nature of reality and the often baffling relationship of truth and perception. This story revolves around one day in the life of Thomas David hemmings a London based fashion photographer in 1960’s
Through the history of the evolution of art, it can be categorized mainly into 3 categories: classicism, modernism, and postmodernism.
Classicism is an aesthetic attitude hooked into principles based within the culture, art, and literature of ancient Greece and Rome, with the stress on form, simplicity, proportion, clarity of structure, perfection, restrained emotion, as well as explicit appeal to the intellect. The transitions from Classicism to modernism, Modernism is generally defined by its interpretive style, moving away from poetic realism There are certain key points of modernism it finds Art in everything, they express art through symbolism sometimes surrealism to convict the deeper meanings of it.
Postmodernism questions the very purpose of art, it questions, is it really art in everything? or is it just our own imagination projected on?
Here in this film, the protagonist Thomas is a commercial fashion photographer Despite his successful photographer career fed up with the birds and the mod fashion shoots. He wants to shoot in his own way in his own unconventional way. In search of fresh air, he finds himself in a park, where the breeze sounds within the tops of the trees just like the sea at low water. In the distance, he sees a person and a lady, together, canoodling. He points to his camera and takes a couple of snaps of them. On his answer, the lady (Vanessa Redgrave) chases after him and demands, urgently, that he hands over the film. He refuses. She tracks him back to his studio where they smooch, smoke a joint, plays some music — and he sends her away with the incorrect roll.
From there the story unfolds differently, when he enlarges the photos he finds something mysterious. He sees a man behind the bush with a gun in his hand, pointed towards the couple. Has he accidentally saved someone from getting murdered? Thomas became motivated, found his work purposeful, involved in a deep investigation mood.
We audience see those ‘mysterious’ pictures through Thomas’ eyes. But the question arises here is it really happening? Or is it just the projection of Thomas’ mind to make his art worthy, purposeful?
By further investigation he found a dead body through his grainy enlarged picture, went back to that park he found a mannequin, lying behind the bush. This scene is clearly suggested Thomas's imagination about this murder mystery projected on his photography.
There are many scenes where Thomas’ friend questions about the abstract arts, whether there is a meaning to it or is it our own thoughts, imagination projected on it.
After driving into town, he sees Jane (the girl within the park) and follows her into a club where The Yardbirds, featuring both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck on guitar and Keith Relf on vocals, are seen performing the song “Stroll On.” A buzz in Beck’s amplifier angers him such a lot he smashes his guitar on stage, then throws its neck into the crowd, then Thomas grabs it as a souvenir. Thomas comes out of the club with this guitar neck, but after coming out he makes a pause and throws it to the floor. What appears to be important inside the club holds no reason now, it is just a broken piece of guitar. This is the realization of postmodernism at the end, art is just an object, holds no reason, unless it is not projected onto it.
The next day Thomas takes a spare camera from Ron’s house with film in it and goes back to the park alone to take photos of the murder victim, but the body is gone without any trace. Befuddled and emotionally defeated, Thomas (aware that somebody has just gotten away with murder), begins walking out of the park when he watches a gaggle of mimes arrive and play a mimed tennis match. Thomas takes part in it when the mimes ask him to retrieve their imaginary ball that goes out of the court. Thomas throws it back the imaginary tennis ball, this is when he acknowledge and accept his imagination, like this imaginary tennis play, the murder is just the projection of his mind. The camera pulls back to express his loneliness, he is the only one who can see and his art of work for he intended it.
Then Thomas also despairs as to remind us this is only a film, an imagination by the director Antonioni, it is his vision represented through Thomas.