Blow-up (1966) – A Movie Review

I usually include a spoiler warning with my reviews.  But this movie is so awful that if I can stop you from seeing it by giving away the plot, I would consider that an act of mercy.

The only claim to fame I will grant this movie is as a source for the homage that Mike Meyers did of it whenever he did his photographer bit in the Austin Powers movies.  The absurd behavior that he displayed as he photographed the groovy models in those movies is almost an accurate portrayal of the Thomas character in this movie.  And that is the only good thing I can say for Blow-up.

The movie represents about a day in the life of London photographer “Thomas.”  He’s played by someone named David Hemmings whom I don’t recognize.  There are two actresses in the movie that I have heard of Vanessa Redgrave and Sarah Miles but the only notable part of their performances is they take off their shirts.  In fact, most of the main female characters end up topless at some point.  But I’ll tell you right up front it didn’t help much.  Now I’m not one to disparage the female form in cinema but these attempts at partial nudity were painful.  This was during a time (the 1960s) when fashion models were expected to have the physique of famine victims.  You can literally count their vertebrae when they turn away from the camera.  This is not erotic.  It’s mostly silly and at times annoying because of how clumsy these scenes are.  I never thought I’d fast forward through a female nude scene but so help me, I did.

Anyway, the plot.  Thomas moves around photographing in a working-class area of London then to his home studio then to an antique store where he is attempting to buy an old wooden propeller then to a park where he photographs a man and woman kissing.  This last scene is the center of the plot.  The woman sees him taking her picture and demands that he give her the film.  He refuses and heads back home.  Eventually she finds him and demands the film again.  When he refuses, she, of course, takes off her shirt.  Now for the next twenty minutes we mostly see Vanesa Redgrave’s back.  Eventually he takes his shirt off and then he gives her what she thinks is the film of her in the park and she leaves.

Now we find out that he kept the roll of film from the park.  He prints it and after a very, very long sequence of him blowing up portions of the photos we can tell that there was a man hiding in the trees with a gun and eventually we see that the man who was kissing the girl was shot by the gunman.  Now why Thomas didn’t hear a shot isn’t explained but then again who cares.

Then Thomas goes to visit a friend whose wife is in love with him.  Then he goes to see the body that’s still in the field.  Then he comes home and finds that his house has been ransacked and his film and prints of the park have been stolen.  Then he goes to a party where the Yardbirds are playing and then he goes to another party where his agent is smoking pot.  When he wakes up the next morning in the party house he heads over to the park and the body is gone.

After that he watches some mimes pretending to play tennis on an actual tennis court.  Thomas even throws their pretend tennis ball back to them when it goes over the fence.

The End.

This movie is purported to be an iconic cinematic masterpiece.

It ain’t.

If I can convince you to never watch this movie, I will feel that I have struck a blow for humanity.  You will have saved two hours of your life.  If in the course of this website’s existence a hundred people decide not to watch Blow-up two hundred precious hours of human life will have been saved.  I will count that as my great gift to mankind.  Instead watch the first Austin Powers movie and enjoy his parody of Thomas.