According to Blowup costar Ronan O’Casey, who explained the full, partially-unfilmed plot of Michelangelo Antonioni‘s 1996 classic to Roger Ebert seven years ago, the inattention paid to the murder plot — on Antonioni’s part as well as that of David Hemming‘s photographer character — was a kind of accident. Antonioni was forced to go all mysterious and inconclusive, he says, because producer Carlo Ponti shut the film down before all the scenes were shot.
Ronan O’Casey’s only Blowup closeup
“The intended story was as follows: the young lover, armed with a pistol, was to precede Vanessa [Redgrave] and me to Maryon Park in London, conceal himself in the bushes and await our arrival,” O’Casey explains. “I pick up Vanessa in a nice new dark green Jaguar and we drive through London — giving Antonioni a chance to film that swinging, trendy, sixties city of the Beatles, Mary Quant, the Rolling Stones, and Carnaby Street. We stop and I buy Vanessa a man’s watch, which she wears throughout the rest of the film.
“We then saunter into the park, stopping now and then to kiss (lucky me). In the center of the park, Vanessa gives me a passionate embrace and prolonged kiss, and glances at the spot where her new lover is hiding. He shoots me (unlucky me), and the two leave the park intending to drive away. Their plans goes awry when he notices Hemmings with his camera and fears that Hemmings has photos of her. As it turns out, he has.
“None of this was ever shot. There were other scenes, such as those between Sarah Miles and Jeremy Glover [i.e, Vanessa’s character’s boyfriend who was also the trigger man in Maryon Park] that also went unrealized. Some of the scenes that were shot pertaining to the murder plot ended up in the film, but are completely puzzling to the audience. For example, in the film there is a scene with Vanessa and Hemmings at a cafe.” Wrong! The scene hes’ describing is between Hemmings and his bearded book editor.] A young man approaches, notices that she is with Hemmings, and runs away. That’s Glover. This makes for an odd, mysterious moment because the audience is completely ignorant of his identity.”
Ponti did Antonioni a favor, of course. If the all of this murder-plot, watch-buying stuff had been filmed and integrated into the film, Blowup would have been a much lesser work. That moment when Glover approaches the cafe and then walks away is perfect — absolutely perfect.