****/**** Image B Sound A Extras A
starring Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, David Hemmings, John Castle
screenplay by Michelangelo Antonioni and Tonino Guerra (English dialogue in collaboration with Edward Bond), inspired by a short story by Julio Cortazar
directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
by Walter Chaw Michelango Antonioni's Blowup, when it appeared at the end of 1966, marked the confluence of a great many cultural throughlines. Sanctified by the grace of a long theatrical run on the rep circuit in the United States, it all but ensured (with an assist from Mike Nichols's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and that film's gleeful use of the term "hump the hostess") the final death of the antiquated Production Code when audiences disregarded the promise of eternal hellfire and went to see the damn thing anyway. There were other foreign arthouse sensations before it, of course (notably Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, with which Blowup shares some surface similarity), but it was Blowup that felt like the revolutionary bellwether for the rise of the foreign arthouse as something of a genre unto itself. The picture's success was of a moment with the peak of the British Mod period and right there with the birth of America's version of it: namely, the Summer of Love and the concurrent season of assassination. We never quite recovered from that whiplash between love and death. Similarly, film language has never recovered from the teleological disruption of Blowup.