AskDefine | Define blowup

Dictionary Definition



1 a violent release of energy caused by a chemical or nuclear reaction [syn: explosion, detonation]
2 an unrestrained expression of emotion [syn: effusion, gush, outburst, ebullition]
3 a photographic print that has been enlarged [syn: enlargement, magnification]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. An explosion, or violent outburst
  2. An enlargement

Extensive Definition

Blowup (as in screen credits, also rendered as Blow-Up) is an award-winning 1966 British-Italian art film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and was that director's first English language film. It tells the story of a photographer's involvement with a murder case. The film was inspired by the short story "Las Babas del Diablo" ("The Droolings of the Devil") by Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar, and by the work, habits, and mannerisms of Swinging London photographer David Bailey.
Blowup stars David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, John Castle, and Jane Birkin. The screenplay was written by Antonioni and Tonino Guerra, with the English dialogue being written by British playwright Edward Bond. The film was produced by Carlo Ponti, who had contracted Antonioni to make three English language films for MGM (the others were Zabriskie Point and The Passenger).


The story concerns a photographer (Hemmings) who may or may not have inadvertently preserved evidence of a murder, which may or may not involve a woman (Redgrave) who visits the photographer in his studio. As is typical with Antonioni films, the story does not follow a conventional narrative structure.
As a professional photographer, the main character mixes with the rich and famous in the London of the sixties. One day he chances upon two lovers in a park and takes photos of them. The woman of the couple pursues him, eventually finding his apartment and desperately trying to get the film. This leads the photographer to investigate the film, making blowups (enlargements) of the photos. This process seems to reveal a body, but the director uses the heavy film grain and black and white imagery to obscure the image. This drives the photographer to keep making blowups and try to find the truth.
He does eventually find the body in the park, but this time, unfortunately and surprisingly, he is without his camera. He tries to get a friend to act as witness, but later the body is gone.
Ultimately, the film is about reality and how we perceive it or think we perceive it. This aspect is stressed by the final scene, one of many famous scenes in the film, when the photographer watches a mimed tennis match and, after a moment of amused hesitation, enters the mimes' own version of reality by picking up the invisible ball and throwing it back to the two players. A tight shot shows his continued watching of the match, and, suddenly, we even hear the ball being played back and forth. Another version of reality has been created. Then, at the very end, Hemmings, standing all alone in the green grass of the park, suddenly disappears, removed by his director, Antonioni.

Celebrity appearances

The film contains appearances from various famous people of the day, and some people who would become famous later.
In a scene near the end, The Yardbirds perform "Train Kept A Rollin'", Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck play side by side until Beck smashes his guitar à la The Who. Michael Palin of Monty Python's Flying Circus fame can be seen very briefly in the crowd in this scene, and future media personality Janet Street-Porter can be seen dancing in stripey trousers. As Hemmings enters the club where The Yardbirds are playing, a poster on the entry door with a drawing of a tombstone contains the following epitaph: Here lies Bob Dylan Passed Away Royal Albert Hall 27 May 1966 R.I.P. — an obvious reference to Dylan's use of electric instruments during the performance.
Antonioni had considered using The Velvet Underground in the nightclub scene, but according to guitarist Sterling Morrison, "the expense of bringing the whole entourage to England proved too much for him."

Filming locations

The first scene (with the mimes acting) was filmed on the Plaza of The Economist Building (Piccadilly, London, 1959-64, project by Alison and Peter Smithson). The park scenes were filmed at Maryon Park, Charlton, southeast London, and the park is little changed since the making of the film. The street with the many maroon-coloured shop fronts is Stockwell Road, and the shops belonged to motorcycle dealer Pride & Clark. The scene where Thomas sees the mysterious woman from his car, then proceeds to follow her, was shot in Regent Street, London. He stops at Heddon Street, where the cover shot of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust LP was later photographed. The photographer's studio was filmed at 49 Princes Place, London W11, later to become the studio of architects Richard Rogers, and currently the London office of architects John McAslan + Partners.


| years=1967 | before=A Man and a Woman tied withThe Birds, the Bees and the Italians | after=If....}}
blowup in German: Blow Up
blowup in Spanish: Blow-Up
blowup in French: Blow-Up
blowup in Italian: Blow-Up
blowup in Lithuanian: Blowup
blowup in Hungarian: Nagyítás (film)
blowup in Japanese: 欲望 (映画)
blowup in Polish: Powiększenie (film)
blowup in Portuguese: Blow-Up
blowup in Romanian: Blow Up
blowup in Russian: Фотоувеличение (фильм)
blowup in Simple English: Blowup
blowup in Turkish: Cinayeti Gördüm

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Photostat, Xerox, Xerox copy, accelerando, acceleration, access, aggravation, backfire, bang, beefing-up, blast, blaze of temper, blowing up, blowout, blueprint, boom, burst, concentration, condensation, consolidation, contact printing, cyanotype, deepening, detonation, discharge, enhancement, enlargement, eruption, exacerbation, exaggeration, explosion, flare, flare-up, flash, fulguration, fulmination, glossy, heating-up, heightening, high words, hologram, information explosion, intensification, lantern slide, magnification, matte, microcopy, microprint, outburst, photocopy, photogravure, photostatic copy, pickup, population explosion, positive, print, projection printing, redoubling, reinforcement, report, scene, semi-matte, slide, speedup, step-up, storm, strengthening, tightening, transparency
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