Dean O'Brien's Blog

IDFilm’s Critical Film Review: Blow Up with Tom Nelson @ Coventry University

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Last week I managed to watch a real classic film from the sixties called ‘Blow Up’.  It stars Vanessa Redgrave and David Hemmings.  The story is basically about a photographer that takes some innocent pictures which when enlarged appear to show a murder.  The Yardbirds feature in the movie along with Michael Palin and Janet Street-Porter . It gave a real sense of the swinging sixties in London.  Jane Birkin (a real model from the sixties) featured as one of the two girls in the film who hound the photographer for a shoot which ends up in a sexual frolic around the floor in the studio.  The rumour surrounding this film is that it was based on the photographer David Bailey.  Apparently Bailey was none too pleased about this and rightly so.  It did show the photographer as rude and arrogant.  Often shouting at his models and bossing his assistants around it did not show the photographer in a particularly good light.  The photographs shown in the film were all actually taken by Don McCullin.  Blow Up is not really ‘edge of the seat’ stuff by any stretch of the imagination but just a curious film in general.  I can only describe it as a more serious full length version of ‘Rising Damp’ but without the comedy.  There is a really weird part at the end where there are some students playing ‘invisible tennis’.  To be honest the storyline was a bit all over the place.  A more interesting storyline probably would have made the film more of a success. It does however lay claim to being the first British film which showed full frontal nudity. A stark reminder of just how far which come.

Looking at films such as Blow Up really bring home to me how much photography has changed.  Its a rare sight to go to a photographer’s home or studio and see prints hanging up to dry all over the place.  Images are now shown via a number of ways….facebook, ipod, blogs and computers to name but a few….Film photography seems to be an acquired taste.  Yes, there is something so impersonal about shooting digitally.  Its rushed with the attitude ‘we can sort it on photoshop later’.  Light years from the film which I have just seen……..

A big thank you goes to Tom Nelson for organising the showing of this film.  I look forward to attending a few more along with a few more students hopefully.  Maybe some posters put up in the Ellen Terry building will get a few more ‘bums on seats’.  The chance to see some classic movies for free is surely something not to be missed….


Written by Dean O'Brien

March 22, 2010 at 7:18 pm

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