But the letter about “…several films that may be of interest to you and the photographic community…” set me thinking. I can never resist a film in which one of the main characters is a photographer, or that has photography as a theme. And there are quite a few. (I’m not talking about documentary films here, just dramatic films.) I’m not going to try to list or review all of them, but here are a few personal favourites, some obvious, some you may not have heard of (in no particular order):
The film explores the predatory nature of photography/photographers, its sexual angles and fantasies; but more imortantly it is a study of the perception we have, individually and collectively, of reality. You are never sure whether the central event of the film, the witnessing of a murder, actually occurred; the photographer perhaps captured it on film, perhaps not. A key scene in this respect is the final one, involving the travelling mime troup.
As a film-portrayal of London is the swinging sixties, Blow Up is superb. The scene in the nightclub with The Yardbirds playing is alone worth the DVD hire. The Hemmings character is an egoist, a bit of an arsehole really, but he is cool!
In ‘On Photography’, Susan Sontag said this about Blow Up:
And what exactly is the perverse aspect of picture taking? If professional photographers often have sexual fantasies when they are behind the camera, perhaps the perversion lies in the fact that these fantasies are both plausible and so inappropriate. In Blowup (1966), Antonioni has the fashion photographer hovering convulsively over Verushka’s body, with his camera clicking. Naughtiness indeed! In fact, using a camera is not a very good way aof getting at someone sexually. Between photographer and subject, there has to be distance.
Sontag then refers to the movie Peeping Tom (1960) … about a psychopath who kills women with a weapon concealed in his camera, while photographing them. From memory, he used a tripod with a spike in one leg for a weapon, rather than the camera. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Getting back to Blow Up, Hemmings was obviously well coached in using all the cameras, lights and enlargers. He handles everything like a pro. It always irritates me when I see in other films, for example, a camera with a manual winder being used, but the sound effect is a motor drive. Then they somehow take about 50 frames on a roll of film. If the director isn’t woried about that kind of detail, chances are the rest of the film will be crap too. Not the case with Blow Up at all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blow_Up_(film)
The concept of taking sequential photos in the way shown here may not be new, but it is brilliantlyand uniquely described in this film; and I have noticed a surprising number of people have since adopted the idea, some claiming it as their own. Aside from its photographic relevance, Smoke is a superb film.
by james | 29 March, 2009