Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in association with Melbourne Festival presents

Blow Out


Curated by Australian Centre for the Moving Image

Brian de Palma uses the basic structure of Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic Blow-Up (1966) to explore the deep cynicism and paranoia Americans felt post-Watergate and the Kennedy assassination.

John Travolta (in his best performance) stars as Jack Terry a sound recorder for a sleazy B movie company whose stock and trade is exploitation films. One evening when he is standing on a bridge capturing night sounds, he inadvertently records and witnesses a car accident. What starts of as an apparent accident however soon takes on political and nefarious dimensions, putting his life and a woman (Nancy Allen) he saved from the accident at risk.

Not unlike Antonioni’s haunted photographer who keeps on enlarging a photo he took in order to uncover a supposed crime, Terry replays the sound recording again and again, his obsession leading down a destructive and ultimately dangerous path.

De Palma however saves his blackest and bleakest joke for last as an incongruous scene from a trashy horror film becomes a haunting expression of hopelessness.


The Eyes Without A Face film series is part of our program of ancillary events surrounding our presentation of the 1984 stage production.


Director Brian De Palma (1981)