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The Ever Ambiguous Antonioni

The recent death of Michaelangelo Antonioni has occasioned a fascinating letter to Roger Ebert, alleging to reveal the fairly banal reason why Antonioni's sixties classic Blow-Up is so ambiguous and strange, which is to say, why it doesn't make a … Read More

By / August 2, 2007

The recent death of Michaelangelo Antonioni has occasioned a fascinating letter to Roger Ebert, alleging to reveal the fairly banal reason why Antonioni's sixties classic Blow-Up is so ambiguous and strange, which is to say, why it doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense. According to the letter's author:

My name is Ronan O'Casey, and I played Venessa Redgrave's gray-haired lover in the film. The screenplay, by Antonioni ("just call me Michelangelo"), Tonio Guerra, and Edward Bond, told the story of a planned murder. But the scenes depicting the planning of the murder and its aftermath — scenes with Vanessa, Sarah Miles and Jeremy Glover, Vanessa's new young lover who plots with her to murder me — were never shot because the film went seriously over budget.

Apparently, most of the film's acclaimed mystery was the result of an intervention by legendary Italian producer Carlo Ponti

The producer was Carlo Ponti, and he had been supervising another production which delayed his arrival in London. When he got there, he was furious. "Basta, Michelangelo, finito, we are done!" Shooting stopped and the crew went back to Italy. Antonioni took the bits and pieces of the film that had been shot and wove them together in a film since hailed for its "mystery" and "enigma." Of course it was mysterious; it was never finished!

While this certainly sounds in keeping with Ponti's reputation (he's satirized as the portly, vulgarian producer in Fellini's 8 1/2) one has to wonder how accurate this story is, mainly because Blow-Up was not an original screenplay but based on a short story every bit as ambiguous and strange as the film that resulted.

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