Be Very Still and Quiet

I promised myself today that I would not do a post about anything pre-1990. Then on my drive home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the still photo scene in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up. I’ve shown this scene to my students at Art Center as an example of narrative and images in pure form. Blow-Up is a film made in 1966, yes, I’ve broken my promise, about a photographer (David Hemmings) in swinging London. He spends time hanging out, shooting naked skinny models who wear Mary Quant outfits, having sex with them, and going to Yardbirds concerts. It’s all very hip and Carnaby Street. On an outing to a park he shoots some random shots, and later after blowing up the images determines that he has photographed a murder. The images are individually beautiful. The scene when he examines the photos is pure and minimal. A series of 16 still and abstract images tells a clear narrative in less than a minute. The only audio is the rustling of the leaves in the park’s trees. This is the pivotal action scene in the movie. Now imagine the same scene filmed today. You see why it’s so amazing.