October 1, 2019
Los Angeles, California
Below scenes from Director Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic 1966 film, BLOW-UP showing “Thomas” (Actor David Hemmings) examining his “blown up photographs” which reveal evidence of a crime.
In the updated Black Dahlia Avenger (HarperCollins 2006) paperback edition I added several new chapters. One of these was entitled, “New Investigation: Hard Evidence and Forensics.
I quote from pages 544-45 of that chapter:
As my Dahlia investigation comes to a close, I again find death imitating art.
Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s thriller Blowup, a seminal film of the 1960s, forced us to think and question lifestyles, mores, art, and the subjectivity of perception, all focused through the lens of a photographer’s camera. In the film, a whodunit or wasitdun existentialist mystery, David Hemmings plays a mod-fashion photographer who, while strolling through a London park, happens upon and takes photographs of a couple embracing.
In developing the photographs, he discovers that his camera has caught a possible murder in progress. Is there a hand showing a man holding a gun in the shrubbery? A dead body? He begins to enlarge small sections of his prints (hence the title), and as they grow, they enhance the mystery as distinct pieces of the puzzle.
Some forty years after seeing this fascinating film, I now find myself cast in the same role of protagonist-photographer. The only difference: we are in the year 2005, and I have traded Hemming’s 35mm Leica for a Hewlett-Packard computer and Adobe Photoshop!
What my investigation has revealed forces me to make public crime photographs that are graphically horrifying. In previous printings of my book I have been able to restrict this aspect of the investigation to verbal descriptions, which though shocking reduced significantly the violence. Hearing is a much kinder sense than sight. For the sake of truth, and the further need to prove my case, I must, I am afraid, cross the line and delve into that darker corner. I would ask that you, my readers, consider yourself a seated juror in a murder trial. Before showing you this evidence, I will do what most prosecutors do in court: apologize for having to show you scenes so violent that they will doubtless shock your senses; but this additionally compelling evidence must be added to our case.
BLOWUP FORENSICS 2019– A THIRTEEN-YEAR REEVALUATION
PART I- THE WATCH
In the 2006 examination and analysis, I suggested that an object seen inside the upper torso at the crime scene may well have been a military watch placed there by my father as a deliberate inclusion and posing of his “surreal masterpiece,”
This was based on several known factors which included:
A search of the vacant lot by LAPD recruits in the days following the removal of the victim’s body from the lot resulted in the “finding of a man’s military watch which was recovered and booked in evidence.”
A photo of George Hodel taken some two months prior to the murder showing him wearing a man’s military watch.
The fact that surrealists in their paintings were known to place a watch or other representation of “time” in their drawings/paintings.
A blowup of the upper torso showed what appeared to be a circular object with a dark face inside the body cavity at the crime scene compared to a second photo taken at the coroner’s office showing that object missing. (Did the watch fall out upon moving it from the scene only to be discovered by police recruits searching the location two days later?