Blow Up

I saw Blow Up last night with Diane. It’s one of Antonioni’s and stars Vanessa Redgrave, released in 1966.

This was a weird experience for me; I had only ever seen her in movies where she plays the old woman, and while her acting has always been superb, I never really understood why she was in so many movies.

Now I think I get it.

  1. She’s only recently genuinely “old” –
    she was born in 1937, so in all those movies I remembered in the 1980s she tended to play someone older than her real age- she was in her 40s, playing someone in their 60s.
  2. in the 1960s, she was superfine.

Still reserved, but very thin and with a hawklike intensity. So as she aged, she became the older woman who audiences had grown up with and seen in different stages of her life; you could cast her not only as “the intelligent old woman” but also as “the older relative who had lived La Vida Loca in her youth,” in a credible way, because subconsciously the audience would remember these younger roles. It’s a niche that might be more difficult for someone else without her history. I wonder what the Olsen twins will end up doing when they are sixty?

Blow Up is an interesting and pretty movie, but it feels really slow. Much of this is due to Antonioni’s preference for silence… it doesn’t translate well to our MTV world of jump cuts and constant chatter. All the same, its Modernist theme of chaos is pretty implicit- The main character is a fashion photographer who Austin Powers may have been patterned after, with a life full of partying, random wandering, and sleeping with dozens of beautiful young women he calls “birds.”

Perhaps coincidentally, we saw it for the cameo of The Yardbirds. The Yardbirds were a British mod-rock group in the mid- to late 1960s. They later became The New Yardbirds, which later grew into Led Zepplin.

DIANE: The Mighty Gods of RO-O-O-OCK!

At the time of this cameo, they had Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck on guitar. And they had Keith Relf on vocals, some years before he fried himself in 1976.