MICHELANGEO ANTONIONI's BLOW-UP - Part Three of Analysis

Go to Table of Contents of the analysis. Antonioni's films are rife with themes, peculiarities and incongruities which largely go unnoticed due his deft care in handling them and the abundant and rich audio and visual textures in which he immerses us, but they are also responsible for the sense of mystery that defies a traditional expectation of resolutions, infusing Antonioni's films with enigmatic mythic purpose. And myth is never hampered by logic.

JANE VISITS THOMAS' STUDIO

243 MS Thomas driving down his street past a red phone booth.

We don't yet see Thomas, only the left side of his car. As he parks he enters the frame. When he cuts the car off we hear the sound far in the background of announcers at a race.

244 MS of Thomas looking down now the other side of the street where his studio is on the left.

We see a door that is half-painted grass green. Earlier in the day we had seen a man painting it. He's not finished the job. After standing stock-still in the street several seconds, Thomas suddenly leaps for the horn on his car's wheel and punches it so it blares long and piercingly loud.

245 MS of Thomas from behind his car, hand on the horn.

He presses the horn about 10 seconds. In the middle of this, we briefly see the elbow of a man in a short-sleeved shirt poke out of a red doorway then back in.

Ten seconds was the amount of time (not that I've timed with a stopwatch) Thomas had toyed with the coin in his office when the two girls were insisting upon meeting with him and he said he hadn't time even to have his appendix taken out.

246 MS now facing the other end of the street again, where is Thomas' studio, as he steps behind his car and to the sidewalk.

And as he does so and the camera pans right with him, we see an elderly man step out of a white doorway, carrying a spade. A gardener. He glares at him. His intention of attracting protective attention fulfilled, Thomas gives a little wave and steps back into the street and continues down it, tossing his key into the air and catching it. The elderly gentleman goes back inside the door to his courtyard.

247 LS of Thomas from down at the end of the street, he walking toward his studio, looking behind him to see if he's followed.

248 MS of the doors of Thomas' studio as he nears them.


But he stops before entering and crosses back over the street.

249 We have one of Antonioni's occasional cuts in which it seems but a couple of frames have been removed, Thomas stepping up to the red phone booth and entering. He places a call. Behind him, through the glass, we see a sign for St. Francis' Catholic Church.

THOMAS: Hello. Could you get me Frobershire 3229, please? I've only got a sixpence. Park 1296. Hello, it's me. Weren't you supposed to be going off to Hurley? Hmmm? Listen, stay where you are. Call me soon at home.

The windows of the red phone booth reflect the neighboring buildings in such a way that they appear to be red, reminding of the repeating shots of the red Pride & Clarke buildings by which Thomas passed on the way to the junk shop and the park.

Why make this call outside rather than from his studio? As with his honking the horn, he is perhaps concerned that someone may be ambush him in his studio, and is ensuring that someone will phone him and be concerned if he doesn't answer.

250 MCU shot looking down to the other end of the street as Thomas exits.

As Thomas goes to his door, Jane dashes up, breathless.

JANE: I've come...I've come for the photographs.

THOMAS (fully aware he had been followed): How did you manage to find me?

JANE (not responding to that question): Do you live here?


251 View through a doorway from inside the studio, Thomas and Jane entering.

Entering the interior doorway through which we'd viewed them, they pass a row of white bars laying against a white wall, the bars casting light shadows, an image upon which the camera lingers. This type of image of regular repetition of vertical light and dark is common for Antonioni.

252 A black door opens and Thomas and Jane pass through it.

As Thomas opens a door for the woman, we view on the wall behind the door a large black and white photo of a baby chick, a reference to the "birds".

253 LS of Jane and Thomas entering the first floor's large studio room.

They are now in the bottom floor's main studio, the photos of the hang glider and the diver behind them, viewed by us through the dark plexiglass panels still in place from the aborted photo shoot of "the birds". The pair ascend to the second floor of the studio.

254 MS of Jane and Thomas ascending the stairs, viewed from the second floor.

She looks at the ostrich feathers, from the shoot with Verushka, in some amazement. Thomas gestures for her to enter and cuts on soft music.

THOMAS: Drink?

Jane, seeming bewildered, moves so she is framed by one of the V supports which forms a triangle around her face.

255 MS Thomas pouring a drink for them both.

THOMAS: What's so important about my bloody pictures?

256 LS, from behind Thomas, of Jane seated on the gray sofa.

JANE: That's my business.

Thomas places her drink down before her on a tape recorder on the table. She stands, nervous.

As Thomas moved toward her, the upper half of his body slipped out of the frame. When Jane stands, from the waist up she too is out of the frame. Nice shot. This section is one incredible shot after another.

257 MCU Thomas from the front, drinking.

THOMAS: The light was very beautiful in the park this morning. Those shots should be very good. Anyway, I need them.

258 MCU Jane standing framed by the triangular beam.

JANE: My private life's already in a mess. It would be a disaster if...

The abstract painter had said when painting it was a mess at first.

Jane stepping screen left out of the frame, Thomas enters from the right.

THOMAS: So what? Nothing like a little disaster for sorting things out.

We are intended to refer back to that earlier conversation, for the abstract painter had said first the mess, then things sorted themselves out.

259 MS Jane paces before the plastic window behind which we'd earlier observed the dancing "birds".

She raps several times on the plastic, nervously.

THOMAS (off screen): Have you ever done any modeling? (This appears to throw her. She stares.) Fashion stuff, I mean. You've got it.

The camera zooms out as Jane settles next to a safe, framed by the same support beams in which Thomas stands.

Perhaps he is trying to curry her favor, flatter her, in order to keep her from arguing about the photos.

260 MS from the side of Thomas.

He comes out from behind the beam, the camera following him as he goes to the plastic window. He gestures to Jane to step over. He pulls down a purple backdrop and has her stand against it.

THOMAS: Hold that.

He steps out of the frame.

261 LS of Jane from beyond Thomas.

THOMAS: Not many girls can stand as well as that.

JANE (pounding her fists): No, thanks. I'm in a hurry.

THOMAS (takes off his jacket): You'll get your pictures. I promise. I always keep my word. (He sits on the couch, gestures for her to join him.) Come here. Show me how you sit.


What an ass! She's no prize. But, what a jerk.

262 MCU Jane against the purple, black and white ostrich feathers hanging down.

She sighs, agitated, but resigns herself to his command. She exits screen right to the sofa.

263 MS of Jane from behind Thomas. She sits.

264 LS of Thomas from behind Jane.


The phone rings, which is the person he'd earlier told to call. Thomas waits a minute.

265 MS of Thomas from above and beyond a beam.

From his still position he suddenly, literally dives for the phone, searching for it in the corner of the room on the green carpet that reminds of the green grass of the park. It's a ridiculous, jerky, fast, plotted, scrambling movement. Digging out the phone from under a chair, he bumps his head on the wall behind him.

THOMAS (holding his head, irritated): Who is it?

I'm inclined to think of his bumping his head as a rephrasing of the propeller bumping the asphalt of the street, to which Thomas had cried, "Oy!" at the injury. This fits also if one thinks of him, in these dives, as propelling himself.

266 MS of Thomas, floor level with him.

THOMAS: Oh, yes, that's right. Hold on a second. (He holds the phone up for Jane.)

267 MS of Thomas hidden behind the chair, his hand holding the phone up for Jane, while we observe her reflected on the right in a sheet of glass.

JANE (standing): Is it for me?

It is odd that Jane would believe the call is for her. Stepping out of the reflective frame of the glass to the left, she immediately enters the camera frame from the right. She seats herself on the chair and takes the receiver.

THOMAS: It's my wife.

268 CU Jane recoiling.

JANE (hands the phone back to Thomas): Why should I speak to her?

269 MCU of Thomas from floor level, Jane standing and crossing the room in front of him.

THOMAS: Sorry, love, the bird I'm with won't talk to you.

270 MS of Jane before the window.

Jane has moved to stand before the window. Thomas rises and stands near her, before a picture of a white dot in a field of black. A point of light.

Jane leaves the window and approaches the camera. It follows her, Thomas leaving the frame. Standing before a ceiling beam, Jane raps several times upon it.

271 MCU Thomas from the rear.

Recall the antique dealer tracing the round of the record. Thomas now traces that point of light with his finger. We are intended to be reminded of the woman with the old records at the antique store for in a moment Thomas will draw Jane's attention to the record player and the music played.

THOMAS: She isn't my wife, really. We just have some kinds. No. No kids. Not even kids. Sometimes, though, it feels as if we had kids. She isn't beautiful. She's...easy to live with.

272 CU Thomas sitting down on a bench before the photo of the camels crossing the desert.

THOMAS (taking out a cigarette and lighting it with a match): No, she isn't. That's why I don't live with her.

He places the match on the head of a bust, one that looks as if it would pair well with the headless statue of the woman at the antique store.

Back and forth, back and forth. Black and white. Opposites. What is the truth of the matter? Is it somewhere between. Truth isn't easily located in many conversations in Antonioni's films. In Zabriskie Point there are conversations presented to the audience as fact, when they aren't, and most will be none the wiser. The Passenger and Zabriskie Point are largely concerned with alternate identities and Antonioni plays with this here, Thomas positing facts about himself but immediately negating their veracity.

On the wall is a large photo of camels crossing the desert, the wasteland, with two busts before it. The photo is large but mostly white, the line of camels so small that from a distance they seem scarcely larger than dots

If one is so inclined, one could look for occult meaning in the camels and the wasteland, but it isn't necessary. The mysteries are already present in nature, repeating patterns. The vocabulary that nature presents is enough

273 MCU of Jane beyond a ceiling beam and lighting equipment, bewildered.

She turns and sits on the sofa.

274 LS from the direction of the sofa of Thomas rising.

We hear what sounds like a scooter.

THOMAS: But even with beautiful girls, you look at them and that's that. That's why they always end up by...and I'm stuck with them all day long.

275 LS of Jane from behind Thomas.

JANE: It would be the same with men.

Why does Thomas speak in this manner with Jane? First, he has bossed her about. Then he has flattered and bossed her. After the phone call there is then the fake confessional during which he eventually divulges that he likely has no wife or children and that he's weary of beautiful girls. She's a captive audience, wanting photos that he wants. He likely imagines what the audience believes at this point, which is that Jane wants the photos because she's having an affair with a married man.

The jazz music has changed tempo and Thomas responds to it, enthusiastic.

THOMAS (raising the volume): Have a listen to this.

The black circle of the record contrasts with the white circle he'd earlier traced.

276 MS of Thomas leaning over the record player.

Another one of Antonioni's cuts where little is changed. Thomas straightens up and the camera follows, zooming in on the back of his head in extreme close-up as he moves toward the sofa.

277 CU of Jane bobbing to the music as Thomas does.

She is unable to find the rhythm of the music. Her movements are jerky, out of sync.

278 MS Thomas seated on the coffee table and Jane on the sofa.

THOMAS: No, keep still! Keep still. Listen and keep still. (Hands her the cigarette.) You can smoke if you like.

It has a filter but it is treated as though it's a joint. And this isn't a matter of Antonioni for some reason wanting to avoid showing a real joint, for near the end of the film he shows a number of hand-rolled joints, and shows them being rolled at a party. Taking the cigarette, Jane smokes and begins her out-of-sync bobbing again.

THOMAS: Slowly. Slowly. Against the beat.

He mimes for her bringing the cigarette slowly to her mouth, and she copies his movements.

279 CU Jane smoking.

Moving slowly, she behaves as if she's smoking a joint, time shifting for her, slowing.

THOMAS (off screen): That's it.

She circles her head slowly then hands the cigarette back to him, laughing, acting as if she's high.

280 CU of Thomas watching.

Slowly he takes the cigarette and breathes in the smoke, releases it.

281 CU of Jane.

She is about to take the cigarette back then refuses it, tensing again. She stands.

This section serves as a kind of commentary on the flexibility of time in Antonioni's films. Zabriskie Point has several time wormholes through which we slip into happenings that are impossible in normal time. The most conspicuous is the meeting of Mark and Daria and their trip to Zabriskie Point. Daria is supposed to be on her way to Phoenix, and with the side trip at least an extra 7 to 9 hours (considering the time it takes to paint the plane Mark has "borrowed") is required, and yet Daria reaches Phoenix before sunset. Movie magic could be the cause, the audience not supposed to notice, but Antonioni focuses on watches multiple times in the movie, drawing our attention over and over again to time. Daria smokes a joint at Zabriskie Point but Mark does not, saying that he has been a member of a group that's on a reality trip, which Daria qualifies as not being able to "imagine" things. Here, too, one could say we have Thomas and Jane in the desert with our attention having been drawn to the image of the camels. They then share a cigarette which they treat as being like grass, and in conjunction with the music Thomas instructs Jane on moving against the beat and going slowly. We then also have a seeming speeding up of time on Thomas' part, for when Jane attempts to flee with the camera she is amazed to find him waiting for her in the first floor hall.

282 MCU of Jane standing.

JANE (holding her stomach): I can't stand it. I'm nervous enough as it is. (Sits.) Can I have some water?

The camera follows Thomas as he turns and leaves the room, passing by his camera which he had set down on a black case next to the door through which he disappears.

283 LS of Jane from beyond Thomas' camera, her eyes on it.

284 MCU of Jane listening to Thomas in the kitchen.

Jane listens and hears Thomas pouring water in a glass. She rises and crosses the room to the camera. Taking it, she steps out of the frame to the left.

285 MCU from above of Jane passing the ostrich feathers.

She descends the stairway to the bottom level.

286 MS of a black door. Jane opens it and we see the studio beyond her. She freezes.

287 MS Thomas in the hall.


Thomas is there, as if by magic, standing in her way, having anticipated her intent.

THOMAS: And I'm not a fool, love.

He holds out his hand and she places the camera in it. Jane stepping back behind the door briefly looks like Patricia.

JANE: Can I have the photographs?

288 LS of Thomas from behind and above Jane.

THOMAS: Of course. Later.

Again stymied, Jane turns around and returns upstairs, Thomas following.

THOMAS (passing by the hang glider and diver photos): Your boyfriend's a bit past it.

289 CU Jane, turning to face Thomas.

JANE: Why don't you say what you want?

290 MS of Thomas from behind Jane, the pole with the ostrich feathers separating them.

291 MCU of Jane beyond the ostrich feathers. She defiantly removes her black and white blouse.


A view of her breasts is obstructed by the strip tease line of feathers.

292 MCU of Thomas beyond the ostrich feathers, against a black backdrop.

293 MCU of Jane against the white wall, from just above and behind Thomas' head.

294 CU of Thomas from behind, stroking the ostrich feathers as he walks around them.

295 MCU of Jane and Thomas from above and beyond the feathers.


He takes her shoulders.

THOMAS: Get dressed. I'll cut out the negatives you want.

296 MS of Thomas opening a low door that leads to a previously unobserved walkway that leads to the dark rooms located on the second level but on the other side of the bottom floor studio. Our first view of these doors was in shot 286 when Jane, leaving, opened the door from inside the first floor studio and we saw them overhead and beyond. He advances toward a purple door.

297 Shot from within the purple door, it filling the screen. Thomas slides it back and enters.


Thomas takes out the roll of film then puts it down and grabs another and leaves the room.

298 MS of the walkway door from within the lounge.

Thomas exits and grasps what seems to be a fairly useless handle on the wall. The previous scenes had been silent. Music begins.

299 LS of Jane's leg stretched out, she hidden by the purple backdrop.

Holding the substitute roll of film, Thomas looks looks left and sees the woman's leg projecting beyond the purple photographic backdrop, her body otherwise hidden.

So, we are back to the leg as something to hold onto theme. Thomas had grabbed the bird's leg (the model's). The painter had traced the leg on the painting, saying that, like that leg, when he was done with a painting he would find something to hang onto. We've had also several other less obvious references.

Thomas steps into the frame and draws aside the purple backdrop.

300 MS of Jane, her arms wrapped over her chest. She hasn't yet put on her shirt.

She looks alluringly at Thomas, and he enters the frame, walking toward her between the plastic window treatment and the purple backdrop. The backdrop falls back behind him.

301 MS of Thomas from beyond Jane.

He reaches out his hand with the roll of film. She stretches out her hand to take it. He abruptly tosses the film from his left to his right hand, as if he would deny her of it, then hands it to her. She walks several paces away then returns and kisses him gently, briefly.

302 CU Jane before the purple backdrop.

She turns and goes back to Thomas. They kiss. They both walk off screen left.

303 MS Jane and Thomas pass by her shirt on the way to the stairs and she tosses the film on her shirt.

304 CU Thomas and Jane enter the frame from the left, she clinging to him from behind. They advance into his bedroom.


The doorbell buzzes.

THOMAS (taking off his shirt): They'll go.

The doorbell buzzes twice more.

JANE: They're not going.

Thomas throws down his shirt on the bed and moves to answer the door.

JANE (grasping his shoulder): Don't go.

Thomas kisses her hand and contines on anyway.

And speaking of the hanging by a leg/pulling one's leg motif, consider the painting in Thomas' bedroom of a man whom perspective has foreshortened to such a degree that his lower limbs appear truncated.

305 MS of Thomas crossing through the office to the entry.

He opens the door, a man standing outside. Beyond him we see the red phone booth.

It's the propeller without which Thomas has said he couldn't live. Which is kind of creepy, it showing up just now. As if his "not being able to live without it" alludes to the fact that its arrival is important to his health and welfare at this moment.

DELIVERY MAN: Have you bought a propeller?

THOMAS: What?

DELIVERY MAN: You bought a propeller this morning, right?

THOMAS: Oh, yes.

DELIVERY MAN: You'll have to give us a hand with it.


Shirtless, Thomas grabs his keys from off a chest by the door and steps out to help.

306 Exterior of the studio, the delivery man unloading the propeller from his vehicle and Thomas unlocking the doors on which is the large 39.

307 From high in the studio, we observe Thomas and the delivery man carting in the propeller.

308 Overhead shot of Thomas and the delivery man placing the propeller down alongside the standing plexiglass sheets.


DELIVERY MAN: All right?

THOMAS: Fine, yeah.


309 Thomas reflected in a sheet of metal as he returns to the stairs to go up to the second level.

Later, when he returns from the park after having seen the dead man, he will tap his foot on the propeller, turn and be similarly reflected, then, instead of going upstairs, he will exit and go to the painter's studio. Presumably, it's during this time that he is being robbed.

The camera pans up to show Jane at the door to the walkway.

JANE: What's it for?

THOMAS: Nothing. It's beautiful.

JANE: If I had a big room like this, I'd hang it from the ceiling like a fan.


310 MCU from behind Thomas of him ascending the stairs, the kitchen beyond.

THOMAS: Do you live on your own?

JANE (stepping into the frame): No.


The music begins again. They step into the lounge area and Thomas points out a ceiling beam.

THOMAS: Perhaps I'll put it there like a piece of sculpture.

JANE: It'll look good there. It will break up the straight lines.


Referring back to what I've written about on the propeller in the sectoin of the antique store, one could think of it as breaking up the straight lines like the symbol of infinity.

She stops before the beam and places her hands on it.

Thomas brings her another cigarette/joint.

That big a fan in a room would of course blow you away.

A fan is all cycles.

311 Cut to Jane smoking again, arms crossed over her chest shielding her breasts, laughing as if she's getting stoned.

Then Jane notices the watch on her wrist, starts up and runs to put on her shirt.

THOMAS: Are you going?

JANE: It's late.


312 MCU of Thomas following.

THOMAS: Will I see you again? (Jane shrugs her shoulders.) Well, at least tell me your name or your telephone number.

He runs to get her a sheet of paper as she puts the film in her purse.

313 MS from behind Thomas as he looks for something with which to write, carrying a piece of paper.

He passes by a clock which may read around 6:10 or 2:30 and hands Jane the paper. She jots something on the paper and hands it back to him. Tucking her shirt in, she descends the stairs.

JANE (pausing): Thank you.

She exits.

314 LS from down the stairs, Thomas at the top, looking after her.

He stands for a moment, considering the paper, then slips it in his pocket.

315 MS Thomas from beyond the ostrich feathers.

He pours himself a glass of wine, sits down and sips it. Anxious, he slaps his thigh. He stands and leaves the room.

Okay, just for the hell of it, let's consider what has just happened on a purely human psychology level. One can get so wrapped up in the beautiful photography that one loses sight of what was going on. Our own sense of time, too, is contorted, as I was discussing earlier. We have so many lengthy pauses, and so many sections to this one scene of Thomas with Jane, that we exit near eons from when we began. In many ways, the function of this section is not unlike the one in Zabriskie Point where Mark and Daria speak at length as they wander the riverbed at the Point. Only this is a hell of a lot more interesting. Due the contortions of time and the breaking of the afternoon into interrupted segments, we nearly forget the track of the games that have transpired throughout the dialogue. We remain vaguely mindful that Jane followed Thomas, and though we are sympathetic with her plight, believing that she is pursuing photos of an illicit affair, the stalking gives a somewhat menacing air. (Actually, it's been so long since I first saw the film, I can't recollect exactly how I felt about Jane before knowing the full plot, and so my knowledge of the murder colors my feelings.) What we do tend to forget is that Thomas gave her a substitute roll of film--or, if we don't forget it, we lose sight of the implications, whether we know the plot or not. As soon as Thomas returns from trading out the film and hands it over to her, when Jane kisses him and he responds, his manipulations and duplicity begin to fade in memory, and nearly vanish by the time she leaves and he begs her name and number. Yet, this is a woman who he believes has only been caught in an affair, and he has ruthlessly bullied then tricked her. It's one thing for him to then consider sleeping her. Sleazy, yes. But then they don't sleep together, and when she leaves he presses for her name and number, as if they're going to have a future when she finds out he gave her the wrong photos. Because he has seemed to become even a little vulnerable with Jane, the bullying Thomas begins to seem ripe for redemption. We may even begin to sypathize with him, as in, "Oh, no, the poor guy has fallen for a woman he's--oh, yeah, right, he's deceived her. Now, how shall he get out of this predicament?" We feel at least some confusion over his mindset, until he stands and goes and develops the film of the park.

But then he discovers the gunman, and we enter into full sympathy for him. Almost.

THE INITIAL DEVELOPMENTS

316 The wall along the walkway leading to the darkrooms.

Thomas enters and passes down it to the first room with the purple door. Here he will develop the film. Now one gets a sense of the isolation of the photographer in his dark room. He closes a purple door and a red light comes on signaling the dark room is occupied. I think of the red light at the beginning of the film and the nuns passing it, the revelers surrounding them. And, of course, I think of, especially, the red with which Antonioni chose to bookend the park section.

In the dark. He is, as yet, in the dark.

317 Interior of the dark room.

Thomas removes the strip of film from the dryer and examines it.

318 Exterior of the dark room.

The red light goes off. Thomas exits and goes to the next room, which has a green door. He closes it and that room's red light goes on, showing it's occupied.

319 With a magnifying glass, Thomas examines sections of negatives on a lightbox. He marks one he would like to print.

320 MS from behind of Thomas at his table top enlarger. He exposes the paper.

321 Now a large piece of photo paper on the wall. Thomas exposes this.

We see the negative images of the couple forming the V in the park as they play together. Thomas takes the paper down and puts it in a developing tray.

322 LS of the dark rooms above the studio. Thomas exits with the still wet paper and returns to the lounge.

323 MCU from behind Thomas of him laying down in the gray sofa looking up at two photos he's printed. He lights a cigarette.

324 MS from the front of Thomas relaxing on the sofa. Nearby are the two glasses of drinks shared with Jane from earlier that afternoon. He sits up to examine the pictures.

325 LS of Jane and the man in the park. Pan right to the next photo of Jane and the man embracing. Pan back left to the other photo and zoom in slightly. Pan back right to the photo of the two embracing, the camera zooming in even more on the couple.


You will notice that we are already having our blow-ups with the camera zooming in on particulars in the photos. Now to take a closer look at what's going on. We have some seeming continuity errors between these shots and when Thomas was in the park and the question is if these are errors or not.

Thomas' shot has the woman's left arm pulling the man's left arm.

If we compare this to what we saw in the park, there is a slight difference. Jane is pulling with her left arm, but has hold of the man's right arm. Note that Antonioni has placed them so they are in the same position in relation to the fence and buildings behind. We have that amount of exactness. Yet the man's body is instead facing toward us instead of away. If we return to that section of the movie, shots 163 to 165, Thomas had lowered his camera and wasn't taking photos of the couple at that point. He had begun moving to hide himself behind the fence.

Here is the camera zooming in on Thomas' second photo, and it is much like the one in the park though not exactly.

In the park, her head been obviously to the right of the man's, she looking right. Her hand is pointing down on his back rather than up.

326 MCU of Thomas taking note of something in the photo, and rising. He goes to it, the camera panning over so that we see through the photo as Thomas' silhouette shadows the couple.

327 CU of the end of shot 326, almost exactly. If I put up a screen capture of where shot 326 ends and where shot 327 begins, you'd not be able to see any difference. It is one of Antonioni's ellipsis cuts where it seems only 1 or 2 frames are removed, and it's one of the most peculiar I've observed for here we are viewing Thomas only in shadow silhouette through the photo and we have that briefest of cuts.

328 MCU from behind Thomas examining the two photos. He exits screen left.

One will note that, above, the right shot now has a slight speck of white in the area where the gunman will be located but it is on the ground. It is only in this one view of this photo and no others of it. Other views of this photo are as seen in the image with shot 328 below. This doesn't appear in the previous shots of it nor in the following so it seems a little curious it would be there in this one as we are scrutinizing these photos closely with Thomas.

329 MCU the second photo with an open space beside it to the right. Thomas enters from screen left and pins up the 3rd photo, this one of Jane looking right.

330 CU of the image of Jane looking right.

331 MCU Thomas now moving to stand between the two photos.

Now, the evolution of these shots is very natural for the audience. Thomas believes he sees the woman looking right. He makes a blow-up of this. We have in the third photo a very clear image of the woman looking right.

But this third print is not a blow-up from the second photo, nor is it an image taken from where Thomas was standing. That image of Jane looking right is taken much more to, say, the SE-E of the compass rather than the S point, if we label as S where Thomas was at that time hiding behind a tree near the stairway. This was the final position from which he took photos of the couple, as at this time he stopped and began moving to the stairway, which is when the couple took note of him.

The perspective for the third photo is largely Thomas' perspective of the second photo inside his studio, standing to screen right of the photo as he examines it. If he had been standing in approximately that position in the park, he would have had the perspective for the third photo.

Thomas traces with his hand on the photo over to where Jane may be looking. He shrugs his shoulders and walks off screen left.

332 MS from behind and between two photos of Thomas putting on a record and getting a glass of wine.

The photos here as if take the place of the "through a glass, darkly" panes of Plexiglas in the earlier scene in which Thomas had been photographing the "birds".

The camera shifts as he moves to sit on the edge of a chair, drinking, we still viewing him from between the two photos as he reflects on them.

333 CU of a magnifying glass on the glass coffee table. We see also a large piece of rose quartz and a bowl holding large eggs or egg-shaped objects printed with a repeating pattern. Thomas sets down his drink and picks up the magnifying glass.

He returns to the photos with the magnifying glass. The jazz music fades out as he holds the magnifying glass to the photo. Silence. He hones in on to where he believes the woman is looking. He grabs a white grease pencil and encloses that spot in a box.

He takes down the photo and walks off screen left.

Now, if we look at the box he's drawn, it is far to the rear of the couple. Very far to the rear. We don't really note this as when he traced with his hand the woman's gaze to the right, this box is in her 2-dimensional line of sight but it is not in the 3-dimensional line of sight. Because it is in the 2-dimensional line of sight, however, we accept that the woman is looking at that spot.

When in the park, yes, Jane, embracing the man, looking to screen right, did glance a little further back but not so much as to be obvious, but Thomas is not seeing that. He is seeing the woman looking right rather than to the rear.

334 MS of 4th photo on the wall, the enlargement of the small box and we are to see it shows a face. Thomas steps in the frame examining it.

335 MS of the 3rd photo showing Jane looking right, the camera panning over to the 4th photo of the face in the trees. Pan back to Jane. Pan back to the face in the trees, zooming in on it.

Antonioni is further reinforcing the idea of Jane looking screen right and seeing the shooter. He is actually far behind her. But by placing these blow-ups at right angles to each other, Antonioni has the audience seeing Jane looking directly ath the gunman. What Thomas has seen from his perspective in the studio in the 2-dimensional plane of the photos is becoming the story.

Thomas has yet to really be conscious of the gun.

336 MCU of Thomas from behind examining the shot of the face in the trees. He moves right, away from the photos, looks back at them, rubbing his face, considering.

337 MS Thomas' printing room, a number of photos of the park laid out side by side. Thomas marks boxes on two with a grease pencil.

338 MS of the wall on which the 4th photo is stuck. Thomas puts up beside it two others. He moves a lamp away from the wall making more room.

339 CU on the photo of Jane pursuing Thomas in the park, at the height of the stairs. Pan over to Jane with the man, noticing Thomas. Pan over to another photo that has been put up of Jane and the man standing together, supposedly aware of Thomas and looking toward him.

Again, Thomas' shot here of Jane pursuing is not quite exactly as it was.

Just as earlier we had a difference where Jane's left hand pulling the man by his left hand became Jane's left arm pulling the man's right arm, Jane in the black and white photo has her right leg forward, where in the park she had her left leg forward when she had briefly raised her hand for only that one step. I believe these are intentional differences.

The third photo showed us a perspective that would not have been that of Thomas', and so does the above photo of Jane and the man. They are supposed to be looking toward Thomas. They are not, however, looking toward Thomas and that is obvious. Rather than Thomas' view, it is another perspective of them. It isn't a perspective we were shown earlier either at the park either.

The next photo, the one of the man isolated, is at a right angle to the others just put up,

Thomas' positioning now resembles that of the man. Thomas is, in effect, situationally, in his position. Looking where? Over at the photos on the other wall?

One may recollect the stereoscope viewer back at the antique store. It stood prominently next to the statue of the headless woman. The way such a viewer works, creating a 3-dimensional image, is to have two slightly different images viewed through the two lenses that blend them together. We have something like that going on here with the variations between what was seen in the park and what is being printed by Thomas. And yet I've already noted that Thomas' perception of the photos here is as if examining them for 2-dimensional lines of sight/perspective rather than 3-dimensional. However, he has yet to see the dead man. The environment, too, has gone silenet. It isn't until shot 342 that we hear the sound of the breeze through the trees.

The studio with its green carpet, surrounded by the photos, is becoming as the park. Though Thomas had earlier put on music, it had immediately faded out as Thomas examined the photo in which he found the gunman. Why? Because of the gunman with the silencer on his gun.

But Thomas has yet to see the gun. He has yet to see the dead man.

349 MS Thomas standing next the photos, from beyond two photo lamps.

He takes Jane's number from his pocket. The camera tracks with him as he goes over to get the phone and call her. We see beyond the photo of the camels, the two busts of the women before it, the image of the dot on the wall.

THOMAS: Hello? Knightsbridge 1239? (He stands.) What? No, I'm sorry.

He slams the phone down, realizing he was given a wrong number.

341 CU of the photo of Jane pursuing Thomas, her hand up to her face, and the face in the trees.

Thomas enters the shot and closely examines the one with the face in the trees.

Ah! Now, he sees the gun. He races off screen left to his dark room.

342 MCU Thomas in his dark room developing another photo, an enlargement of the man by the fence.

343 LS We see Thomas through the plastic window coming down the walkway from his darkrooms. The camera pans with him as he enters. He takes down the photo to the right of the face in the trees and replaces it with the new enlargement.

344 LS from behind Thomas, he standing on the sofa, finishing fixing the photo to the wall. He takes the photo of Jane and puts it up last next to the photo of the man standing by himself.


Again, the camera reviews the photos for us.

345 The couple playing in the park (we hear the sound of breeze in the trees).

346 Cut to a clower shot of the man and the woman playing.

347 The woman and the man embracing.

348 Jane looking toward the trees.

349 Back to them embracing and Jane looking at the trees and this time we see the face in the trees as the camera pans over to it.

350 Then the blow up of the gunman in the trees.

351 Finally, an extreme blow up distinctly showing a gun with a long silencer on it, Antonioni leaving no question, it seems, whether or not there was a shooter.

352 The photo of Jane looking directly at us, Thomas, the man still embracing her.

353 Jane and the man standing apart, looking toward Thomas, the photo taken from a perspective other than Thomas' in the park.

354 The man, isolated, looking at us, at Thomas.

355 Cut to the same photo as in shot 353, closer in on Jane, hand to her mouth, showing distinctly that she is not looking at Thomas, is not looking at us.

356 Cut to a CU of the photo of Jane pursuing Thomas, her hand up to cover her face.

357 A new photo we had not yet seen, this one of Jane standing by the tree at the far end of the park, having run away from Thomas.

358 CU of Jane by the tree.

This image does match one Thomas took in the park. She stands in the same position and she was dropping her right arm from a raised position just as we hard Thomas' shutter click.

359 Shot of the seemingly empty park.

As Thomas blows the images up, blows them up, blows them up, he dives further and further down into that landscape, from the broad landscape into the particular, sorting through the grains, the light and dark.

360 MS of the blow up of Jane standing by the tree beside the shot of the empty park.

Pan to show Thomas standing looking at the photos, his hand on a black-painted brick wall, a white-painted wooden beam above. So his hand is placed where black and white separate. He ducks under the photos and picks up the phone. Leaning next the wall by the window, he places a call.

THOMAS: Ron? Something fantastic's happened. Those photographs in the park, fantastic! Somebody was trying to kill somebody else. I saved his life. Listen, Ron, there was a girl. Ron, will you listen? What makes it so fantastic...

The door buzzes.

THOMAS: Look, hang on, will you, Ron? There's somebody at the door.

Thomas steps forward, putting down the phone.

361 CU of the photo of Jane having spied Thomas, looking at him, while the man still holds her arms. Thomas walks into the frame from the right, looking at the photo. Exits. No doubt he believes it is probably Jane at the door.

Before we proceed, I want to take moment to reflect some on the idea of the camels. It may be pure happenstance, but on the sofa is a pillow with the number 3 on it. And we have on the wall what could be taken as an image of the primal point. Extending away from this primal point image we have a photo of a long line of camels, looking like a series of black dots, crossing an expanse of white, a desert. Now the juxtaposition of these images may be pure happenstance, but I’ve considered it a possibility that Antonioni has been building in this film a multi-dimensional Tree of Life.

Here are two versions of the Tree of Life.

Compare these with the below shot of Thomas as he was viewed just after Jane had departed.

In the Kabbalah, the first Sephiroth at the height of the tree being Kether, the Primordial Point, the 3rd is Binah, the letter of which is gimel, camel, the numeric attribution being 3. It is said that Gimel is composed of a yud and a vav and yud as its foot and represents the leg of a rich man who runs to bestow good upon the poor, the impoverished represented by daleth, 4. It is Jacob’s hand grasping the heel of his twin Esau with whom he wrestled in the womb.

Another word similar to gimel is gamol and means to be nourished until weaned, attributions also given to gimel, which serves as a bridge, the camel being the ship of the desert which takes one through the shadow of the valley of death, crossing the long and difficult abyss from Kether and the higher sephiroth to the lower. Via this journey, as signified in a tale of Rebekeh meeting her husband Isaac and finding him so beautiful that she fell from her camel, the soul may be fully borne into the physical world by a process of free will. Or perhaps that is one way of interpreting the story of Rebekeh.

There may be no relation between Jacob's hand grasping the heel of Esau, and the ongoing visual puns concerning hanging by the leg, pulling one's leg, but I wanted to throw that in here for consideration, as the pun plays itself out yet again.

YOU WEREN'T EXPECTING US, WERE YOU

362 MS of the gray-painted entry as Thomas enters from the right.

Cautious, he stands behind the door and opens it.

Thomas had told Ron to "hang on". The painter had traced the leg in the painting as something to "hang onto". Thomas had grasped the handle bar as he had seen Jane's leg. Now, after having told Ron to hang on, Thomas pulls on the handle of the door, standing back behind it, and in through the door comes backwards, as if falling or pushed in, the rear of the brunette, her legs. Then she steps or is pulled back out the door. Then the blond steps in, followed by the brunette, both girls laughing. They are the same who had visited that morning and asked if they could return. He had told the brunette to get rid of her diabolical bag.

We see in the entry the bust of what seems to be a magician, a crescent moon upon his turban. This had also been viewed with the arrival of the propeller.

THE BLOND: You weren't expecting us, were you.

THOMAS: No.


The two girls enter despite his lack of interest. Thomas says nothing. The girls exit right into the office and the camera follows, zooming in on their legs cutting a circle in the room.

363 And cut to a CU following those legs up the stairs as the girls ascend to the second floor, we seeing the brunette still carries her diabolical bag.

THOMAS (off screen): Can you manage to make a cup of coffee between you?

THE BLOND: I can make an Irish coffee, if you like!


The girls laugh continuing up.

364 MCU Thomas also ascending the stairs now. He enters left into a room where they stand, giggling, before a rack of designer clothes.

THOMAS: Right, come on.

They proceed out and left and down a short flight of steps into the kitchen.

365 CU dishes in a rack.

In the kitchen, the camera settles on first dishes which remind of the primal point, of film grain. We also see in the background an egg holder with eggs in it (they appear to be marble eggs rather than real).

Thomas reaches in and grabs a container of coffee, the camera following as he turns and hands it to the brunette along with a coffee pot. He crosses back over for two cups.

THOMAS (to the blond): She always like that?

THE BLOND: Like what?

THOMAS: Doesn't speak. (He comes up behind the brunette whose back is to him.) What's your name?


The brunette turns, surprised, and doesn't answer.

THOMAS: Right, forget it. What's the use of her name? What do they call you in bed?

366 MCU of the brunette turning to face Thomas again, he off screen.

THE BRUNETTE: I only go to bed to sleep.

Thomas scrutinizes her, raises a finger, then lunges out the room in the way characteristic of him propelling himself. The blond, confused, looks out the door after him. His hands enter the frame, jamming coffee cups in hers, then exit. She looks to the brunette in confusion.

THOMAS (off screen): Hello?

The blond starts to ask the brunette something but the brunette raises her finger for her to be silent.

367 MS Thomas in the lounge area, sitting on the edge of a chair, entry to the black and white tiled kitchen beyond on the left. He has returned to his phone call with Ron, who he'd asked to hang on.

We see a large panel on the wall that begins with the words "LUDOVICO XV, IN GALLIIS REGNANTE..." This refers to one of the popes ans is an inscription located at the Spanish Steps in Rome.

THOMAS: Hello?

Receiving no answer, Thomas dials a number.

368 MCU of the brunette calling through a doorway to her friend.

THE BRUNETTE: Pssst! Look at all these clothes!

369 MS The two women look through the rack of clothes outside the kitchen. The brunette pulls out a dress.

370 MS from behind the blond of the brunette looking at a purple and yellow dress.


THE BRUNETTE: Ooooh!

THE BLONDE (vetoing the choice): No.


The brunette shakes her head, no, unsatisfied now, and puts the dress back. As the brunette begins to pull out the dress Verushka had modeled, the blond pulls out a blue dress.

THE BLONDE: Hey, how about this one?

THE BRUNETTE: Put it on.


The brunette unzips her friend's dress.

371 LS from behind the girls as the blond slips off her dress.

372 CU from behind the brunette, the blond beyond. The camera circles around them as the blond slips on the dress, the kitchen door now in the background. Thomas enters through it surprising them. They gasp.


THOMAS (to the brunette): What about you? Help yourself.

The girls stand mute. Then the water kettle whistle goes off.

THE BLOND: The coffee!

Taking an opportunity to flee, the brunette pushes past Thomas to the kitchen leaving him with the blond.

Thomas steps toward the nervous blond and aggressively takes down one of the straps of the blue dress she had been trying on.

373 MCU The blond timidly draws back, then releases the dress and grabs for her own.

She ducks behind the clothes rack to get away from Thomas.

374 LS Thomas lowers the clothes rack to the floor.

Trodding on the clothes, he steps toward the girl who is backed against a wall, wearing only her green tights, her dress held up before her.

375 MCU Thomas trying to grab the dress from the girl.

She grins but jerks away. He gets hold of the dress and pulls it so forcibly that, shocked, she falls upon him, unable to keep her footing. (My CD subtitles show she says "What's happening?" But if she does say this it is so quick and breathless that we barely hear it.) She turns and presses herself against the wall, backing away from Thomas who whips her dress at her. When he pauses, she looks up at him and smiles uncertainly. He reaches and pushes her hair back behind her shoulder.

376 LS of Thomas and the blond standing by the wall, beyond the overturned clothes rack.

She seems to be holding her fists, clenched, in front of her. He has grabbed her wrists and is fighting to pull her fists down. They struggle. She bites his right hand.

That poor hand. It seems it would be showing signs of wear and tear by now as it's the same one Jane bit when struggling with him for the camera and roll of film.

THOMAS (yelling): Agh!! You!!

He grabs her by the back of her hair and yanks her away, she screeching. They continue to fight and she screams as he throws her to the floor.

377 MS of the brunette entering from the kitchen.

THE BRUNETTE: What's the matter?

THE BLOND: She's got a better figure than me!


Both women seeking to run, Thomas leaps and blocks the doorway to the kitchen.

378 MCU the blond and brunette holding onto each other as Thomas shoves them back into the room and trips them over the clothes rack.

He stands back against the wall as the two girls start laughing and wrestling with each other amongst the clothes.

379 MCU Thomas leans against the wall, laughing.

380 The girls continue to wrestle, Thomas watching from beyond.


THOMAS: Go on, whack her! (He kneels down next to them.) Go on, give her the left hook.

381 CU of the girls tumbling over each other in the clothes.

THOMAS (off screen): We'll put you in the ring together.

382 CU of the girls continuing to struggle with each other.

The fight goes back and forth between seeming play and a real battle and we realize the blond is struggling to pull off the brunette's dress while she fights to keep it on.

Black and white, black and white then shades of gray. Thomas' behavior with the blond was abusive, they had an all out fight, she even biting him and he yanking her hair, but now the fight transforms with the entrance of the brunette. Black and white and what's located between the two, one girl representing white and the other black. By the end, Thomas ends up between the two located somewhere in the vicinity of the truth. Just as with the stereoscope and its different images unifying and pulling the viewer into a 3-dimensional view rather than a flat 2-dimension.

383 MCU of the blond trying to pull off the brunette's dress.

384 The blond shoves the brunette against a wall.

385 LS of the two girls, now laughing and squealing, standing, the brunette fleeing through the kitchen and the blond giving chase. Thomas does not chase but slowly follows after them.

386 MS of the 2 girls running toward the purple backdrop. The brunette runs behind it.

I kept wondering about the colors of the clothing these women were wearing, and it occurred to me that here, with their tights and the backdrop, we have the colors of the dark room doors where Thomas develops his film and prints his images.

387 MCU of the blond grabbing the backdrop, trying to tear it down to reach her friend.

388 MS from the side of the brunette behind the purple backdrop as her friend tears at it from the front.

389 MCU from behind the blond of the purple backdrop which she continues attempting to tear down.

390 Long shot showing the purple backdrop hangs only now by one end, then comes completely down, the brunette clutching it to her chest.

391 The blond steps over the backdrop and grabs her friend, throwing her to the ground, falling with her. They wrestle in the folds of the paper sheet.

392 LS from the rear as the two continue to wrestle. Thomas enters from behind, laughing and leaps among them.

393 MS Thomas with the two girls.

394 MS from the side as Thomas stands and tears the green tights off the blond.


THE BRUNETTE: Hold her legs!

395 MCU from behind the two girls, Thomas beyond, pulling off the green tights.

THE BLOND: No! No!

The brunette graps the purple paper, folding it over her.

396 We see only the purple paper. Then, as it's pushed down, see Thomas still struggling with the girls. He pulls off the green tights, the blond smiling, allowing him to do so now.

397 The blond leaps upon her friend.


THE BLOND: Hold her legs!

THE BRUNETTE: No!


Thomas grabs her legs, struggling to pull off the pink tights.

398 MS from behind the girls of Thomas with the green tights around his neck, pulling on the brunette's pink tights.

399 MCU The struggle continues. Thomas has now managed to pull off one of the legs of the tights. The blond girl clutches it as he does so.

400 MS The blond catches Thomas and pulls him down.


401 MS Thomas atop the now naked girls.


THOMAS: Let go of me!

402 CU of the purple paper and Thomas and the girls, the blond struggling now to tear off his blue shirt. They all laugh. His shirt removed, the blond grabs for the waist of his pants.

403 CU of the plastic cover for the window half torn down.


Zoom out and down to show Thomas lying on the purple paper. The girls are dressed again. He has on his white pants. They are putting on his sock.

404 LS from behind the girls of them putting on Thomas' socks and shoes.

One will assume they have had sex. The sex he didn't have with Jane. Almost reverently, the women continue dressing him, the positioning of their bodies and legs forming a triangle with Thomas at the apex. Then Thomas starts up from his prone position, from lying down, and looks at the photos. Somehow, it has occurred to him there is something wrong. There is a dead man in the photo. Why now when the women are dressing him? There is death in those photos, he hadn't saved the man's life after all.

Recall as I said earlier we've had here as if a transformation from a 2-dimensional into a 3-dimensional view transpiring via two different images of the events. We saw this also with the blond and the brunette. One is black, the other white, and when put together, as here, Thomas' vision becomes more stereoscopic rather than flat.

405 MCU of Thomas standing, staring across the room at the photos. The blond stands and begins to slip his blue shirt on him. He takes it from her and puts it on himself, stepping forward.

406 MCU of Thomas viewed from behind two photos of the park. He scrutinizes them as the girls watch. He walks off screen left.

407 A glass panel with several of the photos reflected in it of Jane watching Thomas. He enters from screen right with his magnifying glass and examines the photo of the seemingly serene park. Then examines the photo of the blow-up of Jane standing by the tree.

408 LS from behind and above the two girls of them watching Thomas. Thomas turns toward them.


THOMAS: All right! Let's move! Out!

THE BLOND: But you haven't taken any photos.

THOMAS: No, I'm too whacked. It's your own faults.


The girls look at each other, and seemingly have no reply to that. They slip on their shoes and tromp toward the exit.

THOMAS: Tomorrow.

The girls stop in the kitchen door and look back at him.

THOMAS: Tomrrow!

We see the brunette pick up her diabolical bag as they leave.

409 MCU Thomas, the photo of the serene garden beyond. He pulls his fingers through his hair, puzzled.

410 LS Thomas on the walkway to the dark rooms.

411 MS Thomas entering the 3rd dark room with the pink door, from the interior.


He places an already blown up photo of the garden on a board, shines lamps on it, and takes a photo of it. He exits.

412 MS Thomas in the second dark room. He opens a dryer and pulls out a blown-up print of the body by the tree.

413 LS of Thomas entering his studio carrying the paper. He hangs it up.

414 MCU from behind Thomas, he hanging up the photo.


He steps back and out of the way. This is not the version of the photo we saw in shot 408. This is yet another one. The detail blown up much much larger.

Ostensibly, by Thomas taking this brightly lit photo of a photo he can draw more information out of it, but that is impossible. What we end up seeing is just a blob of white. The corpse of the dead man is evident from a further distance, but the blowing up of the image has gone past a point of clarifying, of revelation, and instead shows darkness and light that would be indecipherable if not for prior knowledge of the subject.

The camera pans down to a neighboring photo, the image from shot 408, in which we see the body more clearely. Then pans back up to the other image.

415 MCU Thomas crouched before the photos. He stands, sits on the gray sofa to examine them from a distance.

416 LS Thomas on the gray sofa.


He stands to look at the photos of the gunman. We hear what sounds like a plane fly overhead. He exits screen right.


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