Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cool Is As Cool Does

The movie Blowup was a bit confusing to me, but it was pretty clear that it dealt with the subject of London and its youth culture. During the 1960s, it seems that London was in constant motion; the film's main character, Thomas, embodied this trait, especially in that he was always going but never really got anything done. The film highlights all that was cool in London in the 1960s, most notably the fashion and music.

The way in which Blowup featured Thomas running all over London and hitting up the hippest places in the city kind of reminded me of the John Hughes movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, in which the title character and his two friends skip a day of school and take a trip to Chicago, all the while avoiding getting caught out by parents and the vehemently anti-Ferris principle, Mr. Rooney. Throughout the film, Ferris and company are constantly going, both to cram the best of Chicago into one day and to stay one step ahead of any authority figures. Ferris Bueller is admittedly much more light-hearted than Blowup, but for me it still had the same sense of futility. Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane stayed crazy busy all day, attending a museum, a baseball game, lunch at a ritzy restaurant, and even participated in a parade. Still, at the end of the day, nothing had really changed for them. They were still in high school, still at the same level of maturity, and Ferris still didn't have a car.

Another more recent film that explores a major city and its people is Paris, Je T'Aime. This film takes a fairly avant-garde approach to storytelling by using eighteen short films, all by different directors, to encompass the city of Paris and all the different people who inhabit and experience it. These arrondissments range from comic to heartbreaking to uplifting. Some are very realistic, while some deal in the area of pure fantasy. As different as all of the shorts are, they all have one thing in common: all eighteen leave the viewer thinking, "Nowhere but Paris." This is the exact effect that Blowup has on London, though the Antonioni film makes its point in a very different fashion. Paris, Je T'Aime displays the city's diversity of types of people and cultures that exist side by side, while Blowup does more to display the futility of London's youth culture and the people that make their living by becoming parasites who leech off of it.

Blowup is a fairly difficult movie to compare to others, as it is (at least in my experience) a pretty unique film. However, themes of swinging scenesters, the futility of hip lifestyles, and the endless search for cool can be found in all sorts of media, if only you look hard enough.


  1. I almost compared Blow-Up to Ferris! Isn't it funny how the movies are generally about seeing the setting, but have completely different feels? I mean, Ferris is happy and exciting to me while Blow-Up is depressing and almost dark...

  2. I like that phrase, "the futility of hip lifestyles." I hope you think about this over the next few weeks.

  3. That is a really interesting interpretation of the film. I never thought about comparing Blowup with Ferris. But you are completely right! They are both about youth attempting to make a place for themselves in a time of cultural change. Niiiiiice.