Read "film-buff" reviews of "Blow Up" and you'll find a huge diversity of opinion. It's a masterpiece... it's rubbish... it's tantalisingly complex... it's hedonistically superficial... what happens in the film is "real"... nothing that happens in the film is "real"... and so it goes. Watch the film and take your choice, but the fact that it still generates such reactions is a testament to its enduring impact. So what does it have?
Well, on the down side, a lot of the acting is weak, the musical soundtrack is too self-consciously "hip", and several of the scenes appear to have been inserted purely for effect - "we do nudity, drugs and rock & roll as well as making films". And on the plus side? David Hemmings acting is superb, the cinema-photography is brilliant, and the use of sound (and silence) to create atmosphere is stunningly effective. But beneath all that's superficially good & bad there's something much, much deeper. Firstly, a riddle that drives it and to which there's no answer - in simple terms, what's real and what's not? Antonioni poses this question throughout the film, from the heavily handed obvious (the play acting of the mime troupe), the subtle (the fact that Hemmings' character is never referred to by name), to the brilliantly tense darkroom scenes where his photos are "blown up" to levels that make interpretation of what he and we are "seeing" impossible. Secondly, and even more subtle, is this man's life simply play acting itself - has he become nothing by having everything - is he still "real"?
Deep stuff and a film that is, as a result, a fascinating enigma in its plot, its execution and people's reaction to it.