“Blow-Up” is an interesting juxtaposition of the growing alienation and lethargy of the modern age amidst a glamorized London setting. The fashion photographer (who from here on will be referred to as Hemmings after the actor’s name) appears to live a glamorized lifestyle during the countercultural shift that occurred during the late 1960s. Yet, jumbled with scenes of strange sexual encounters and loud, exciting rock concerts is a figure isolated and confused. In this media-dominated age, Hemmings lives through his camera; his personal perspective is dominated by his camera-eye. Blowing up the images of the park is how Hemmings processes the situation he has experienced; they are hypnotic and captivating (more so than when the events actually unfolded).
The film similarly displays a desensitization that stains the English landscape. I found it strange and frustrating that Hemmings never contacts the police or any authority of what he has witnessed. The only person that he does tell, his agent, seems to not understand the severity of the situation or care. Even Hemmings does not seem to realize the implications of his photograph; he is not at all fazed when his studio is looted possibly by the murder(ers), even though his life is possibly in danger.
“Blow-Up” is a beautiful film in its visual style. However, contrasting with this aesthetic beauty is a dystopian reality that seems to root during this period. The drug-fueled party that Hemmings visits towards the end of the film is a frightening example; it feels like the beginning of the end of the romanticized 1960s.
Completely pointless, yet somewhat pertinent fun fact (taken from Wikipedia, quite possibly the greatest website in existence):
The Velvet Underground were originally favored by the director to appear in the film’s concert scene but production costs prevented them from appearing. Instead we get a very dated-sounding Yardbirds (although it is kind of interesting to see a young Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck). In honor of Lou Reed’s death and the dark-underbelly of the 1960s here is The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin”: