Antonioni’s protagonist was the Photographer – he was odd, he was eccentric, but was he crazy? The same questions can be asked about Cortázar’s Michel – yes it was written as a fractured, stream of consciousness narrative, but does that mean he was insane? Even if he is insane, does it discount what he saw? These questions are asked in Antonioni’s film BlowUp.
It is probably much harder to convey the uncertainty of the Photographer’s state of mind through film than through literature, where you have a direct line to Michel’s thought-process, but Antonioni does a good job of showing the fractured narrative that is present in the original short story. Even as the Photographer is seeing things, reviewing the photos, blowing up the images, the viewer is not entirely sure he can trust the Photographer. There is sparse dialogue but many odd instances that give the world around the Photographer a very dream-like feel – The protest that walks by contains a random sign that says “On on” instead of the others which say things like “No no,” The photographer suddenly jumps up to answer a phone that didn’t ring, the Photographer ‘directing’ the woman on how to inhale a cigarette and move to music.
The narrative tends to be fractured; going on tangents and in and out of episodes where the viewer is unsure of what is happening, like the scene in which the photographer has sex with the two women – throughout the scene the action seems to switch from laughter to screaming, from wrestling to earnest struggling, from consensual sex to non-consensual. The viewer is not entirely sure what is happening, which mirrors the Photographer’s state of mind. The film forces the viewer to ask can I trust what I am seeing? Can I trust the narrator? And did that even really happen?