Blowup, 1966

Director

Michelangelo Antonioni

Cast

visit the film locations

London: Flights: Heathrow Airport; Gatwick Airport

Maryon Park, south of Woolwich Road, SE7 (rail: Woolwich Dockyard, from London Charing Cross, or London Bridge )

Eat at: El Blason, 8-9 Blacklands Terrace, SW3 (tel: 020.7823.7383) (tube: Sloane Square, Circle and District Lines)

Blowup location: Maryon Park, Woolwich, London SE7

Blowup location: The body in the mysterious park: Maryon Park, Woolwich, London SE7

Michelangelo Antonioni directed a trilogy of classic films in the early 60s. Cool, sharp, stylish and enigmatic. In the mid-60s he followed the zeitgeist and headed to Swinging London.

Antonioni’s landmark mystery, with photographer Thomas (David Hemmings, in a role earmarked for Terence Stamp) accidentally capturing something suspicious on film, was a clear inspiration for both Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Brian de Palma’s Blow Out. It certainly captures the spirit of the time, re-inventing the fashion photographer as rockstar, and featuring an early performance by The Yardbirds (a cameo earmarked for The Who – hence the unexplained guitar smashing).

Blowup location: Economist Plaza, off Piccadilly, London

Blowup location: The whiteface students: Economist Plaza, off Piccadilly, London

Economist Plaza, a hidden courtyard immediately north of Ryder Street,off Piccadilly in London’s West End, housing the tower block of the Economist magazine offices, featured in two iconic scenes of Sixties cinema. It appears deceptively large as the rather creepy white-face students career around the tiny space in a truck at the beginning of the movie.

In Michael Winner’s 1967 satire I’ll Never Forget What’s’is Name, advertising exec Quint (Oliver Reed) famously quits the rat race by taking an axe to his desk. The office of Orson Welles’s ‘Lute Corporation’, where Quint acts out every disenchanted office worker’s fantasy, is the Economist Building, 25 St James’s Street.

Blowup location: Consort Road, Peckham Rye, London

Blowup location: Thomas mingles with the homeless: Consort Road, Peckham Rye, London

Beneath the railway arch over Consort Road, just east of Peckham Rye Station, southeast London, Thomas mingles with the down-and-out dosshouse dwellers, before leaping into his Rolls Royce.

Blowup location: El Blason Restaurant, Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, London SW3

Blowup location: Thomas meets with publisher: El Blason Restaurant, Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, London SW3

But it’s in El Blason, 8-9 Blacklands Terrace, a classy Spanish restaurant off the King’s Road in Chelsea, that he shows the portfolio of images of the working class men to his publisher Ron (Peter Bowles).

The eerie park in which Thomas may or may not have photographed something suspicious is Maryon Park, south of Woolwich Road, SE7 (rail: Woolwich Dockyard, from London Charing Cross). The visually exacting Antonioni notoriously manipulated reality to achieve his desired look, painting paths black and grass green.

Blowup location: Maryon Park, Woolwich, London SE7

Blowup location: the mimed tennis game: Maryon Park, Woolwich, London SE7

The bushes, where the ‘body’ was hidden, were added, and houses overlooking the park were false flats. The tennis court, where students mimed the surreal tennis match in the park, is still there, unchanged.

The antique shop (it was a grocery store) was in Clevely Close, at the park’s northeast corner. It’s since been demolished and the corner redeveloped.

Blowup location: Pottery Lane, Holland Park, London W11

Blowup location: David Hemmings’ photographic studio: Pottery Lane, Holland Park, London W11

Thomas’ studio scenes filmed in the studio of Vogue photographer John Cowans, 49 Princes Place, off Princedale Road, Notting Hill, although the exterior is nearby 77 Pottery Lane, W11, next to the (closed) Earl of Zetland pub, north of Holland Park Avenue (tube: Holland Park, Central Line)




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