It has been 41 years since Michelangelo Antonioni fired the cinematic shot heard around the world with his first English language production, BLOW-UP. The film, starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave and Sarah Miles, is one of the key works of the sixties and one of the most talked about films in history. Chances are if we could go back in time forty years ago we could easily stumble across any number of conversations and arguments about BLOW-UP.
Antonioni has always had an eye for beautiful women and specifically extraordinary faces. Whether it is Monica Vitti in RED DESERT, Maria Schneider in THE PASSENGER or Sophie Marceau in BEYOND THE CLOUDS few directors have ever shot the female face and form as well as Michelangelo.
Jane Birkin was just 19 years old when Antonioni cast her along with Gillian Hills as the two wanna be models that David Hemmings delights in seducing and psychologically running over. Jane was relatively unknown at the time with just a few credits on her resume but even in this small role she really pops off the screen and is remarkably memorable.
Jane would achieve much notoriety in the role due to a couple of brief full nude flashes, often credited as the first in mainstream movie history. The brief shots of Jane nude would send ripples through a changing industry that would soon embrace nudity and sexuality in ways it hadn't before.
It would be two years before Jane would become a full fledged star with her appearance in WONDERWALL but her work in BLOW-UP remains an important moment in her career and film history. Kudos to Antonioni for not only making one of the greatest films of the sixties but for recognizing Jane as something special.