Blow Out

by LemmyCaution@evpl on Saturday, May 14 2011, 1:01pm. Viewed 945 times.

The Criterion Company continues its amazing track record of preserving classic works of film with the recent addition of Brian De Palma's 1981 masterpiece Blow Out. Early in his career Brian De Palma distinguished himself as a maverick independent filmmaker whose work was heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, which is conspicuously evident in such works as Sisters, which includes a score from Hitchcock's famous collaborative composer Bernard Hermann, and Dressed to Kill. These exemplary efforts differ from his larger studio efforts such as the indulgent Scarface, but before Scarface, De Palma brought together John Travolta and Nancy Allen together in Blow Out; a twisted and dark post-Watergate era film steeped in the political paranoia of the late 70's, the Chappaquiddick incident, and Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up. Blow Out's story revolves around John Travolta who plays a sound effects editor on B grade exploitation films and one evening when recording in a park he hears what appears to be a gunshot shooting out the tire of a car that drives off a bridge into a nearby river. Travolta jumps into the water and manages to save Sally, played by Nancy Allen, but leaves the driver who is dead. After taking Sally to the emergency room, Travolta finds out that the other person in the car was the Governor of Pennsylvania, who was planning on running for President. Also Travolta is told to keep quiet about Sally since the Governor was married and his aid wants to save the Governor's family from embarrassment. This sets off Travolta's character with a reluctant Sally to prove what he saw was a murder, and not an accident, despite everyone's doubts. De Palma's tour de force consists of his most mesmerizing and dizzying camerawork from his trademark split screen and slow motion sequences, to a variety of dolly and tracking shots to emphasize emotion and build narrative connections. All of the camera tricks coalesce into a luminously shot but disturbing finale set during the fireworks display of the fictional "Liberty Day" parade. What could have been a derivative exercise in suspense or topical film a la All the President's Men comes off as a unique political thriller enlivened by the personal performance of Travolta and the combined camerawork of Brian De Palma and the famous Vilmos Zsigmond. Also look for one of De Palma's most notable tracking shots which occurs in the sequence following the murder of a young girl and continues following a character into a seedy motel.

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