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“Blow-up,” by Peter Brunette, from The Films of Michelangelo Antonioni (Cambridge: - page 10 / 11





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foundation of all narrative, are undone (p. 2.15).

Lorenzo Cuccu, the Italian critic who has probably written most trench­antly about the philosophical aspects of Antonioni's films, makes a point that is closely related to that of Ropars, though expressed somewhat dif­ferently. For him, in the last shot of Blow-up^ in which the "subject/* Hemmings, suddenly disappears, "the look that is making the film puts itself directly into question by means of its very exercise and its dynamic."30

Cuccu's view of the mimed game of tennis at the end of the film, as an expression of the communal aspect of meaning-giving, accords to some extent with my own interpretation offered earlier, but Cuccu tends to re­gard it in a negative, nostalgic light. He translates the mimes' actions as saying to the photographer: "Reality isn't necessary for your images ei­ther." "The game is played without a ball, mimetic fiction doesn't represent but rather substitutes itself for life, behind the image there's no mystery that is capturable as meaning, the search for meaning is only a fiction that serves to 'justify the image' " (p. 29). Like some other critics, Cuccu sees the final scene with the mimes as an undoing of the meaning that had ostensibly been found through the photographs.

But Cuccu's reflections on the film's ending go far beyond this and are closely related to the scene in the park. Thus he provides a useful shot-by-shot comparison between the photographs that Hemmings takes in the park (as registered by Antonioni's movie camera, at any rate) and the photos that the photographer later blows up, showing in the process just how many of the latter are not included in the former. This offers specific, ma­terial evidence for Ropars's view concerning the gap between the look of the photographer and the "look" of the film itself.

Specific moments emphasized by Cuccu include, for example, the shot in the original park scene (identified by him as shot number 6 of this scene), which is a shot from the side of the man and woman (rather than from the front, from Hemmings's POV), as they realize the presence of the photog­rapher. What Cuccu calls the "Other Look" is present in other places be­sides the park, as well, for example, when the camera is following Hem­mings in the car. First the camera accompanies the car, then slows down and stops, and then speeds up again to turn and follow it. "The look of the narrative seems to enter into the concrete contingency of the diegetic space," says Cuccu; "it seems to make itself an autonomous diegetic pres­ence" (p. 41). And though neither Ropars nor Cuccu mention it, the film-maker's Other can suddenly manifest himself and his "look" aurally as well as visually, as when we faintly hear the wind moving through the trees in the park (a long-established Antonioni motif), even though we are now inside the apartment, watching Hemmings reconstruct the scene through his photographs.

As for the sudden disappearance of the photographer in the last shot of the film, Cuccu sees this as a powerful statement of presence on behalf of the Other (especially since the shot itself is a jump cut from the previous shot):

The final shot is a gesture by means of which the narrative accom­plishes a step beyond the discourse, reopening its disquieting, prob­lematic tension: with this act, the subject of the look [the originator of the film's look, that is, the filmmaker, the camera], cut off from every false pretext, presents itself in a "pure state" and remains alone before the enigma of the green lawn, which now reveals itself to be none other than the specular image of the Look itself. The classic symmetry of the "framed" story/discourse thus transforms itself into an unexhausted circularity,

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