Thomas is a photographer who after a night spent taking pictures in a doss house proceeds to shoot fashion models. During an idle moment he goes to an empty park, with his ubiquitous camera, and shoots a scene in which ‘nothing happens’. Only after having developed his photos does Thomas start to pay attention to its details. He may have photographed a murder.
There is something objectionable about everything Thomas does. Poverty for him is merely a spectacle. A fashion shoot with the gorgeous Veruschka is a simulated act of intercourse, mechanical, yet perhaps it contributes to bringing into focus a secret truth of photography. Its peculiar emotion belongs, as perhaps all emotions do, to a fragile meta-reality. Even the murder is just routine for other people.
The mystery of life and cinema is heightened in the enlargement sequence. To what degree has Thomas himself renounced the most important thing, life itself? The woman of the park scene comes to meet him but in the flesh she is somehow less real than in the dense time fragments that emerge on the developed photographs. The blow-ups grow into ever more extreme close-ups of a moment that has disappeared but occupies Thomas’s interest completely. Soon the ‘only’ truth of the woman is in these images. The man – ‘the murderer’ – is never concretized to this extent. Only a couple of photographs of him exist. Soon he moves beyond recollection into the realm of images, the ‘zone’ of Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus.
The series of images, close-ups and long shots are an adventure in time. A photograph is always an enigma, an astonishing relationship between precise definition and imagination. The camera reaches the zenith of objectivity: it is the sole witness to a crime and thus the only link to the world as it really exists. At the same time, photography offers an ironic miniature of a world governed by ambivalence, precariousness and an almost derisory sense of alienation. This is the paradox and the ‘narrative’ into which the photographer himself, played by David Hemmings, enters.
Peter von Bagh (Rikoksen hehku [The White Heat of Crime], 1997) edited by Antti Alanen
Cast and Credits
Sog.: dal racconto Las babas del diablo di Julio Cortázar. Scen.: Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra. F.: Carlo Di Palma. M.: Frank Clarke. Scgf.: Assheton Gorton. Mus.: Herbie Hancock. Int.: David Hemmings (Thomas), Vanessa Redgrave (Jane), Sarah Miles (Patricia), Verushka (se stessa), Peter Bowles (Ron), Jill Kennington, Peggy Moffit, Rosaleen Murray, Ann Norman, Melanine Hampshire (modelle), Jane Birkin, Gillian Hills (aspiranti modelle). Prod.: Carlo Ponti per Metro Goldwyn Mayer. DCP 4K. D.: 112’. Col.
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