Michelangelo Antonioni, the Italian director who perfected a style of languid, weary alienation in a series of influential films mostly made between 1960 and 1970, is dead at 94. He died on Monday, the same day as Ingmar Bergman; with Federico Fellini, the three were sometimes thought of as the ruling triumvirate of European art cinema.
Although film lovers endlessly debated his best films, he had only one major international hit, "Blow-Up" (1966). Filmed in London, it starred David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave in the story of a photographer who takes a picture of her in a park with a man, and then later, painstakingly enlarging his work, thinks he may have photographed a murder.
Blow-Up created a still-potent way of talking about the ungraspability of social reality. In that and other movies, Antonioni also helped to make American audiences more cosmopolitan and sophisticated, which isn't a bad thing (to be sure, he could boring too).
Former Reasoner Charles Paul Freund likes to point out that one of the ads for the generally inscrutable Zabriskie Point beseeched the audience: "You figure it out." Which is certainly a different way of selling a movie.