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Blow Up [DVD] 
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When fashion photographer Thomas (David Hemmings) develops the negatives of some film he has taken of an embracing couple in a park, he notices that there is a gunman lurking in the bushes behind them. Returning to the scene, he discovers the corpse of the male half of the couple, but, when he visits the site the following morning, the body has disappeared. Michelangelo Antonioni's arty musing on the nature of film, set against a Swinging London backdrop, also features Vanessa Redgrave as the dead man's lover.
It may not stand up as an art-house film (the opening and closing shots of a mime playing tennis belong in the Pretentious Metaphor Hall of Fame), but this head scratcher is an absorbing travelogue of swinging London circa 1967, courtesy of auteur tourist Michelangelo Antonioni. Blow Up is also a meticulous, paranoid murder mystery that has left its fingerprints on dozens of later films, from Coppola's The Conversation to the recent cult item The Usual Suspects. The efforts of a fashion photographer (David Hemmings) to analyse a photo snapped off-the-cuff in a public park, which may have recorded a crime in progress, resonated at the time with conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination. From here it looks like an anticipation of up-to-the-minute anxieties about the filtering of perception through metastasising media. The movie marked the film debut of Vanessa Redgrave, and in the justly celebrated purple-paper scene, expat chanteuse-to-be Jane Birkin. --David Chute --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The basic plot revolves around a feckless and self-infatuated photographer at the heart of the happening 60's scene, with Antonioni sketching a world of no-ties sex-orgies, pot parties, protesting students, shallow scenesters, chic fashionistas, gaudy colours, bizarre camera angles, extended jazz-numbers, waif-like models and the gradual disintegration of the hippie era and the sense of innocence lost (see the director's follow up Zabriskie Point for more).Read more ›
The film's music was very hip and the director deserves real credit in getting a then little known(at least in the U.K.)Herbie Hancock and luminaries to write the soundtrack after apparently failing to find anybody here able to handle what was required (although I'm sure Tubby Hayes or Georgie Fame could have written just as suitable scores had they been asked). Not every film of that period would have included a clip of the Yardbirds as well, even if their music by then had veered away from their old R&B trip.
Blow Up was made just prior to the psychedelic era and to a large extent avoids the trap that so many films depicting the 60's fell into by including large amounts of peace, love and hippy imagery.
The clothes are very representative of that time, right down from the girls with their very skinny Mod clothing, to Hemmings' white strides and black Chelsea boots and looking back at the street scenes in London, Antonioni gets pretty well everything spot on, unlike so many others doing 60's retrospectives a few years later. Yes, Hemmings is full of arrogance but his treatment of women in general is once again very true to life and mirrored very closely the prevailing attitudes. Women's Lib was hardly on the radar screen in '66, despite the presence of Germaine Greer in and around town. Politically correct simply didn't come into it.
As for the film and plot ?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Despite what the Amazon blurb says about ‘Blow-Up’ not being an art house film, for me it is just about as art house as they come. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Hamish Adam
This film needs a quiet auditorium. I watched on 120” projection. And listened. Witnessing the movement of a human being within a space. A unique space. A marijuana time. Read morePublished 3 months ago by ...
Artistic, symbolic...yes. Made in the iconic year of 1966, it gives a fascinating glimpse of swinging London. Read morePublished 5 months ago by starman