Before the screening of the film, legendary actress Vanessa Redgrave was in conversation with Philippe Garner, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s and author of the book Antonioni’s Blow-Up, about the film, its cultural impact and working with Antonioni.
dir: Michelangelo Antonioni
with David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles
UK/Italy/USA | 1966 | 111 min
Fifty years ago, fashion photography as we know it today changed forever with the release of Blow-Up. The film caused a stir with its portrait of London in the swinging 60s, casual sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, including an incendiary, destructive performance by the Yardbirds.
Antonioni’s camera follows fashion photographer Thomas around London in his smart convertible Rolls Royce, wearing white jeans (which started a trend), blue gingham shirt and a sports jacket. His ennui is apparent in everything he does, from photographing professional models (Veruschka and Jill Kennington included) to teasing would-be models, going to a rock gig or a fashionable party… Until the moment he develops a roll of film with pictures he’s taken, hiding among bushes, of a couple in a park. The more he looks at the pictures, the more he becomes convinced he’s captured what could be a murder. He then endeavours, though ultimately without success, to find the mysterious woman, played by an always outstanding Vanessa Redgrave, in an effort to solve the enigma.
Antonioni saw the London scene as a perfect setting for his story. He consulted local journalists to help build a picture of the life style of the most fashionable young photographers. David Hemmings’s character is a composite of elements that reference David Bailey, Terence Donovan, David Montgomery, and John Cowan, whose studio became a principal set.
Vanessa Redgrave was in conversation with Philippe Garner, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s and author of the book Antonioni’s Blow-Up, about the film, its cultural impact and working with Antonioni.
ABOUT VANESSA REDGRAVE, CBE
Vanessa Redgrave, CBE has a legendary acting career on the stage, screen and on television, as well as being a political activist. She received the 2010 BAFTA Fellowship, and is a 2003 American Theatre Hall of Fame inductee.
Redgrave rose to prominence in 1961 playing Rosalind in As You Like It with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since starred in more than 35 productions in London’s West End and on Broadway, winning the 1984 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Revival for The Aspern Papers, and the 2003 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for the revival of Long Day’s Journey into Night. She also received Tony nominations for The Year of Magical Thinking and Driving Miss Daisy.
On screen, she has starred in more than 80 films and is a six-time Oscar nominee, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the title role in the 1977 film Julia. Her other nominations were for Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), Isadora (1968), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), The Bostonians (1984) and Howards End (1992). Her other well-known films include A Man for All Seasons (1966), Blow-Up (1966), Camelot (1967), The Devils (1971), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Prick Up Your Ears (1987), Mission: Impossible (1996), Atonement (2007), Coriolanus (2011) and The Butler (2013). Redgrave was proclaimed by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams as “the greatest living actress of our times”, and has won the Oscar, Emmy, Tony, BAFTA, Olivier, Cannes, Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild awards.
ABOUT PHILIPPE GARNER
Philippe Garner is a Deputy Chairman of Christie’s and an internationally acknowledged authority on photography and 20th century decorative arts and design. He has written extensively on 20th century photography. His books include John Cowan – through the light barrier (Schirmer, 1999) and Antonioni’s Blow-Up (Steidl 2011). Garner received in 2011 the Royal Photographic Society’s award for Outstanding Service to Photography.
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