New York/Bergman and Antonioni

The Bowery

Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni both died today, two of the great filmmakers of the modern era. While Bergman, perhaps, looms larger in the public consciousness, it was Antonioni who was most inspiring to me as a photographer. There was Blowup, of course, about a photographer (David Hemmings) who shoots fashion, but also pursues his own photographic muse in the London street. The photographer blows up a series of pictures in which he thinks he sees a murder committed. The bigger the prints get the more the grain breaks apart, and reality gives way. Blowup was very much of the ’60s, and I saw it–probably–about 1972.

Although I was greatly attracted to the counter cultural aspects of Blowup and Zabriskie Point, I was most influenced by Antonioni’s visual approach to the landscape, the way the frame held its gaze then moved as figures perambulated in and out and through. Films like L’Avventura, The Red Desert, and The Passenger best exemplified this primacy of the camera frame. I still remember sitting in the theater and being stunned by the long final shot in The Passenger, one of the most astonishing achievements in film history.

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