The Passenger (1975)

The Passenger, Michelangelo Antonioni. The plot is boilerplate thriller: switched identity in Africa leads to chase across Europe in search of big secret, with reporters, arms dealers, and a vulnerable ingenue all thrown in the mix. Sounds like a Liam Neeson vehicle. BUT WAIT. In Antonioni’s hands, the thrills become lugubrious, the chase slows down to a crawl, the gloomy main character, played by a perennially stoned Jack Nicholson, constantly doubts his own motives and purpose. The outcome is a chase picture turned inside out, an existential journey into self-reflection. Call it the Antonioni effect (not for everyone: Orson Welles found him boring; John Fahey got into a fistfight with the guy). The legendary penultimate shot of Passenger forever changed the way movies are made, altering the subject/object grammar on which all previous film narrative relied (and anticipating the sort of free-form camera movement that Terrence Malik would take as his own). Pop culture bonus: the ingenue is played by Maria Schneider, the actress from Last Tango in Paris. She’s obviously bombed out her skull in this flick, too.


Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


Being Part of Our Great History...

Forgotten Films

A look at the movies forgotten by time


Give her food and she will conquer the world

Wonderful Cinema

Short reviews on high quality films. No spoilers.


An annual review of prose, poetry, and artwork, published in affiliation with San Diego State University



Street Talk

Word on the street is...

%d bloggers like this: