Brian De Palma

Sog., Scen.: Brian De Palma. F.: Vilmos Zsigmond. M.: Paul Hirsch. Scgf.: Paul Sylbert. Mus.: Pino Donaggio. Int.: John Travolta (Jack Terry), Nancy Allen (Sally), John Lithgow (Burke), Dennis Franz (Manny Karp), John Aquino (detective Mackey), Peter Boyden (Sam), Curt May (Donahue). Prod.: George Litto per Filmways Pictures, Cinema 77, Geria DCP. Col. 

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Blow Out is an utterly pessimistic work that spares nothing and no one. According to statements made by Brian De Palma himself, this was the aspect of the film that was closest to his heart; he defined it as “a political thriller” and “an intellectual reflection on the Watergate climate”. In this point of view, the film can be compared to some works of the 1970s, from Sidney Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor to Alan J. Pakula’s The Parallax View, which focus on the theme of the powerlessness of the individual in a corrupt political system… What these films have in common is a climate of paranoia, deriving from the feeling that the individual citizen is alone and lost in a hostile environment, where his every move is recorded and thwarted, where every friend can turn out to be an agent of “power” or, worse, a crazed fragment of it. In Blow Out this theme is fully explored with the manipulation of the human voice… All the murders in the film are connected to the need to silence someone, be it a politician with too liberal ideas, an inconvenient witness or a chatty prostitute. In a society dominated by a system of power that aims to silence any form of dissent, a man like Jack – who by profession “captures”, preserves, records and catalogues voices and  noises is inevitably troublesome and must be made harmless by dulling his weapon, or by making the scream of a woman who is actually about to be murdered become a purely fictional sound effect, good for any horror movie. And who could forget that the title echoes Antonioni’s famous film, Blow-up. The choice was obviously not by chance; the director from Ferrara put into action a potent reflection on the relationship between reality and its visual reproduction. De Palma deals with the same theme, but from the perspective of sound, even if his film is less subtle and more anchored to a social and political dimension. In De Palma, reality is not elusive by nature but insofar as there are people who want to be its sole and exclusive keeper for the sake of power.

Leonardo Gandini

Copy From

Restored in 4K in 2022 by courtesy of The Criterion Collection, from the original camera negative. Restoration supervised by Brian De Palma