Analysis of the role of photography as a theme in Michelangelo Antoniioni's "Blowup" (1966)

Essay by redlaurenCollege, Undergraduate September 2007

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Short paper – Discuss critically the role of photography in the film “Blowup”.

Lauren Carroll HarrisWord count: 1050In 1966's "Blowup" Michelangelo uses photography to express the alienation of modern life and the protagonist's detachment from himself, his life and the people in his life.

Depicting a photographer, Thomas, and the process of photography (eg. exposing the film, developing the negatives, printing) allows the director to explore ideas of falsehood, deception and truth in a metaphorical sense. Photography, as a documentary form, is meant to show the objective truth. However, in the film, photography only seeds and reinforces the protagonist's self-doubt. At the film's commencement, the protagonist is shown to be atomised and profoundly lonely. Further, he is so absent from his own life that he is unable to recognise his alienation. His experience and photographic documentation of a real or imagined murder in the park is the catalyst for an examination and epiphany of the self.

Despite the existence of photography, which should be undeniable evidence, the director instead emphasises the uncertainty and imprecision of photographs, and the impact of the observer on the depiction and perception of any given situation.

Initially, Thomas is so entrapped and blinded by the mediocrity and shallowness of his life that he does not notice the murder unfold before him in the park. It is only in retrospect while analysing his photos of a frolicking couple that he realises what he has stumbled upon and starts to reimagine the version of the day's events. He attempts to recall the sequence of events in the park, but is thwarted by the unreliable nature of memory and interpretation. He attempts to retrace his movements in the park, but finds that nothing is static and the scene has changed, and he begins to...