Explore the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo
Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian DePalma’s BLOW OUT with this video essay entitled “Cross-Cut.” Note: This video essay originally began as a more theoretical project. The other drafts have been posted to Vimeo for the sake of pedagogy.
What began as “A poetic introduction to the fiction film as videographic criticism that seeks to illustrate the works of Raymond Bellour and Laura Mulvey through BLOW OUT, BLOW UP, and THE CONVERSATION” eventually became a more modest experiment in exploring the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian De Palma’s BLOW OUT. This is the final version of the theoretically framed “Cinefilea” version.
Differences from Version .75: Thanks to notes from Benjamin Sampson and Adrian Martin, I’ve tried to be more evocative in the opening (hence the use of the photographs from BLOW OUT and BLOW UP). I’ve also broken up the text quotations to assist in this and the reader.
Rationale for Why This Version Was Ultimately Abandoned:
My objective was to make a video essay about video essays through these three films with three theoretical texts without resorting to voice-over. After asking a range of colleagues for notes (including Corey Creekmur, Chiara Grizzaffi, Adrian Martin, and Benjamin Sampson), it became quickly apparent that clearly did not work. I typically make video essays that are either argumentative and theoretical (and thus voice-over driven and incredibly structured according to a progression of evidence) or largely evocative and poetic pieces. I had never really tried to cross the streams before and this piece functions as an artifact of that rather contradictory impulse and the dialogue that ensued between us afterwards. To boil it down, it isn’t easy to fuse scholarship and poetry when you’re making a found footage film. When I tried to superimpose cinephilia onto these three films, their original meanings and contexts exerted too much of a hold.
Drew’s comments associated with the videos have been included in full.
The Film Sufi has 12 posts on Antonioni. For convenience here: Antonioni. The whole set is not in the first scroll. For the final batch click older posts at the bottom.
For film people who like to luxuriate in long posts on film this is the place to go. There are three on Red Desert.
FSFF is doing Antonioni this week.
Looking through the academic papers Catherine has listed the divide between film and what is written about it seems enormous. The density and opacity of jargon-filled texts often seem to bear no relation to a film viewed on screen.
This is the intro essay by the editors in the collection.
The story is the screening of L’Aventura  at the 13th. Cannes Film Festival. The audience hated it.
Michelangelo Antonioni and Monica Vitti, director and protagonist of the film, emerged from the projection in tears, devastated by the audience’s scathing reaction, but awoke the following morning to find, hanging from a wall in the hall of their hotel, a typewritten letter of support signed by a long list of directors, technicians, actors and critics (among many others, Roberto
Rossellini, Georges Sadoul, Janine Bazin, Anatole Dauman, André S. Labarthe and Alain Cuny). The short letter read: Conscious of the exceptional importance of Michelangelo Antonioni’s film, L’avventura, and appalled by the demonstrations of hostility it has aroused, the undersigned professionals and critics wish to express all their admiration to the author of this film.
Roland Barthes wrote an open letter, Cher Antonioni, which was read out on 28 January 1980 at a ceremony in which the city of Bologna awarded him a civic honour.
In Michaelangelo: The Investigation by Seymour Chatman and Paul Duncan, Barthe’s letter is described as:
…..a dense and insightful one and one of the most elegant pieces ever written about a film-maker.
There is a 6 part Youtube of a BBC Arena programme, Dear Antonioni…, aired on 18 January 1997, which uses Barthes’ letter to frame an essay on Antonioni. Included amongst the commentators is Alain Robbe-Grillet. Ever try one of his novels? Erk. Note he wrote screenplay for Alain Renais’ Last Year in Marienbad.