How did I previously miss this 2016 documentary “Blow Up of Blow Up” about one of my favorite filmmakers of all time, Michelangelo Antonioni? There isn’t even a trailer available online, which is unfortunate.
The only place you can see it is on HBO – link here. I stumbled upon on it last month. It’s an in depth documentary on the making of his 1966 film, Blow Up. It remains one of his first international productions, albeit distinctly in his own style, and it was one of his most successful films financially. This movie is really about Michelangelo Antonioni’s personal philosophy and approach to art and photography and what it all means to him.
I’ll be the first to admit, Antonioni ain’t for the masses – he’s a filmmakers’ filmmaker. He’s doing it for the art of it – there’s little ‘commercial’ value in anything he ever made. He was pushing the bounds of cinema with questions that were pretty deep, complex and required a level of sophistication and context to appreciate.
The doc itself (directed by Valentina Agostinis) offers some amazing insight into how the movie was made, how locations were chosen and how/why Antonioni crafted the storyline and so forth. So many people were still alive to offer their accounts – it’s really cool.
My favorite quote in the doc:
“Michelangelo Antonioni sorta broke up The Yardbirds and was therefore instrumental in creating Led Zeppelin. So we can put Antonioni into rock history.” – former Yardbirds manager Simon Napier-Bell
There’s a famous scene in the movie with The Yardbirds (comprised of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page) playing in a nightclub. Antonioni harassed Jeff Beck into smashing a guitar (which he was reluctant to do – it wasn’t “cool” at the time) leading to on set conflict between all involved. The Yardbirds broke up soon thereafter. The movie set the precedent for guitar smashing as means of on-stage performance thereafter.