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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best film of the 1970s?
A jaded journalist steals another man's identity & gets embroiled in arms trafficking connected to North African liberation movements.
In the early 1970s there were many attempts to fuse the European art house movie with the Hollywood thriller - The Passenger is probably the most successful example, though today it will probably appeal to art house cinephiles more...
Published on 2 Nov 2007 by HJ

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Passenger revisited
I was curious to see how much the film had dated as it was made in 1975. It had in some respects - costume, bell bottom jeans and so on, but cinematographically and in the editing and direction it stood the test of time well.
Published 10 months ago by David Halliday


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best film of the 1970s?, 2 Nov 2007
By 
HJ (London UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
A jaded journalist steals another man's identity & gets embroiled in arms trafficking connected to North African liberation movements.
In the early 1970s there were many attempts to fuse the European art house movie with the Hollywood thriller - The Passenger is probably the most successful example, though today it will probably appeal to art house cinephiles more than to fans of typical Jack Nicholson blockbusters.
Antonioni was never better - almost every shot & frame is extraordinary but in an unostentatious way (not always the case with Antonioni!). The entire complicated final scene seems to be filmed in one long circular take, which will have technical types wondering how it was done. The plot, narrative & dialogue are as focused as any "New Hollywood" film from the period (eg Scorcese). Jack Nicholson gives an acting masterclass - the lengthy scene where he steals the dead man's identity shows all the complex thoughts & considerations involved - but all without words. Maria Schnieder replays her Last Tango in Paris role here & Ian Hendry turns in a perfect performance (as he usually did).
The film also touches on "third world" and "post colonial" political issues in a provocatively non-judgemental way that is still relevant.
The Passenger was out of circulation in the cinema for many years for mysterious reasons & it's wonderful to have it back on this DVD, which also includes 2 commentaries from Nicholson & Peploe (but unfortunately not from Peter Wollen). I'd say The Passenger is one of the very best films of the 1970s - for me it stands up better than Last Tango...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Passenger, 12 May 2009
By 
technoguy "jack" (Rugby) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Like a turning off of The Sheltering Sky,this film takes off from the desert when Locke's(Nicholson's)jeep's wheels cannot get out of a sand dune.He is a film journalist looking for rebels to interview.he is at the end of his tether and trades in his identity for that of an arms salesman,Robertson,who has died in his hotel.He picks up the other man's life wherever it may lead him.He travels like a fugitive through Germany and Spain picking up Maria Sneider on the way.He has left behind his wife, home and former work colleagues,who attempt to follow him as Robertson, to find out what happened to Locke.Nicholson is at his excellent peak in one of his best roles. There is a marvellous use of British actors ofthe period,Runacre, Hendry and Berkoff.This is Antonioni's last major film and it is a kind of chase thriller and road movie.With the loss and search for identity and the journalistic themes we could be in Graham Greene country.As in L'Eclisse the last ten minutes are some of the most rivetting in world cinema(cf. Haneke's Hidden). Posted on 12/05/09.Nicholson did Chinatown a year later.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You need a big screen!, 17 Aug 2007
By 
J. Preece (Newport, South Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I saw this in the cinema. I had no idea what to expect. It was fabulous. I loved every minute, and when I came out I felt I had been through a complete experience - i felt I had been in the cinema for days.
That's why I can understand people who are disappointed and frustrated by it. It's made for cinema, not TV, and DVD just ain't the same. I can give it only four stars - unless you've got a private Odeon in your mansion, in which case it's five.
Antonioni's films are slow, but he was the last great European filmmaker who understood the medium. In these days of push-button editing the chance for viewers to immerse themselves in long, single shots are gone, and with them the nature of the art.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gripping Antonioni film which crosses many borders, 10 Aug 2010
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Antonioni has that gift of dropping you into a story and leaving you to explore the characters' situation, or so it seems, without the film appearing to follow a typical narrative arc. We are all strangers on a strange planet, our sentience inviting us to question our motivation for putting one foot in front of the other, to choose left rather than right, yes rather than no. people put schemes into action, make spontaneous, random decisions: live or die with the consequences.

Refreshing to see Nicholson in a film with no raised eyebrow or wolfish pantomime;Schneider pre-Last tango, also apart from the image many may carry in their memories of the lusty Parisian; a free spirit tagging along with Nicholson's journalist turned arms dealer/escape artist.

It's a beautiful film with a magical final scene outside a bullring. One of Antonioni's best, least frustrating films.

To think I was in a room recently where people were discussing the acting genius of Jet Lee. Heavens!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very strong film, on the edge of brilliance, 17 Feb 2011
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
More accessible and less mysterious than any of the other widely known Antonioni movies, with more of a plot in a traditional sense. Nicholson plays a disillusioned, depressed reporter who switches identity with a dead man in hopes of freeing himself from his old life. But life follows anyway, in the form of his wife and producer, who want to find out what happened to him, and the men who knew the arms dealer that Nicholson has now unwittingly become. Along the way he falls in like with Maria Schneider as a young woman who seems lost herself, and who seems to be using Jack's journey to give her own life meaning.

Nicholson is lower key than usual, and very, very good; by far the most human of all Antononi's leads. His accessibility makes the film easier and more fun than most of Antonioni's movies, but somehow there's a lack of depth and resonance of the earlier, more obtuse Antonioni films. (And still that penchant for stilted, weighty dialogue).

It's not as amazingly shot as most of the earlier films, except for a shot near the end that's one of the mot amazing 'how did they...?' shots I've ever seen.

If Schneider could act this might well have been a truly great film, but she's so wooden, especially next to Nicholson's humanity, that the central relationship doesn't carry the weight it should (and I don't buy that it's intentional).

All in all a very worthwhile, important, watchable film, but frustratingly seems to just miss being a true masterpiece.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How films are made, 29 Jan 2007
By 
Alan Tucker (Stroud, Gloucestershire Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Apart from the superb film itself there are two 'commentaries' on this disc, one a run-through of the film with Jack Nicholson talking about his view of it as a masterpiece, describing some of his experiences while making the film, with some asides about Antonioni for whom he obviously has great admiration and affection. Similarly there is another run-through with the script-writer, Mark Peploe (who also wrote the original story). Though rather hesitant and understated, this is also worth-while.

For the student of film or for those of us who just love film as an art, this is an absolutely essential DVD. If the film at first seems slow and confused, stay with it, watch it again, play Nicholson's commentary. The experience will relive itself in your mind's eye with more and more understanding and pleasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars passenger, 23 July 2013
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This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
If you like Jack Nicholson films, I should think that this is one that you would also like. The story is goood and the acting is good also, so I therefor believe it will be watched and liked by many.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Flawed Masterpiece, 17 Nov 2006
By 
This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
'The Passenger'is the very essence of quiet, profound filmaking. Elliptical, incrediby ambiguous and with a noirish storyline that discards the importance of plot for the existential philosophies that such a story can open up to. Often I have wondered why such a film has been so badly neglected and forgotten (it wasn't avaliable in the UK on either VHS or DVD formats).

The story is refreshingly simple, leaving Antonioni to practically do whatever he wants with it artistically without once being restricted. Nicholson plays David Locke, a successful journalist following the story of a group of rebels in a remote North African area. Through the opening sequences we are presented with a sense of disorientation, dissatisfaction and confusion in the character (not once through conversation or voiceover but through his actions, his facial expressions, mannerisms and the importance of the vast landscapes caught through each camera shot). In the hotel room next to his he finds a man with a vague resemblance to himself dead. He assumes the man's identity and through information in the man's diary decides to pretend to be him, only later discovering the man is a gun runner dealing with some ruthless criminals. On the run from the British Embassy and the gun runners Nicholson finds himself in Spain where he meets Maria Schneider's character, an anonymous tourist who he decides can help him hide from his pursuers.

The story is fantastic, with definite space for existential musings, philosophy and a number of themes relating to identity, disatisfaction and destiny. However, it is how Antonioni is attempting to impart these messages where the film ultimately fails. The first of the two fatal flaws of 'The Passenger' is that it is trying to be too intelligent. The inclusion of London settings with Locke's wife and a whole host of posh nit-wits making a documentary on his life add nothing whatsoever to the plot and really only result in too many tedious and annoying scenes that completely ruin the mood of the film and the attachment we should be making to the protagonist. Flashbacks of Nicholson interviewing Witch doctors and rebel leaders while his wife is mincing around in the background obviously impart the estrangement between them but alienate the viewer from the story and the essence of alienation the film is ultimately attempting to impart.

Many believe Antonioni is discarding the need for plot in this film, but ultimately I believe that the mechanics of the plot he has annoyingly added have ruined what the film may have been: An absolute masterpiece. The British perspective in the film has ruined it and taken away the existential tone and the edge that extended concentration on Nicholson's character may have brought to the film.

The second flaw in the film is Nicholson's performance, but this is not actually his fault. The nitty-gritty flashbacks, the completely pretentious inclusion of footage of innocent civilians being shot etc. and the occasionally completely tedious camerawork do not give him space to establish his character. As a true devotee of Nicholson's earlier film 'Five Easy Pieces' (his finest performance in a true existentialist masterpiece), i noticed that he just didn't bring the same dimension to David Locke as he did to Robert Dupea- and yet both men are running away from something. 'Five Easy Pieces' had brooding long camera shots, scenes with little or no dialogue, and very little plot significance, but it completely draws you in and makes you feel the character's pain and tribulation. 'The Passenger' does not do this. Too many scenes slip by without any edge or emapthy, too many scenes have Maria Schneider speaking artsy drivel that is uninspired. Nicholson could really have made the film his own, but the fact is Antonioni has not granted him the privilege of simply acting. There are a few bursts of brilliant, underplayed performance towards the beginning of the film and the end (the Yugoslavian Chapel scene must also be applauded), but otherwise he wanders around stifled and asleep.

Finally, 'The Passeneger', although flawed, contains moments of incredible beauty, of technically superb direction, and it leaves you asking a huge number of questions once it has finished. The film's end left me breathless, disorientated and ever so slightly melancholy. The seven minute zoom shot with Nicholson on the bed and all of the myths that surround it (it is so completely ambiguous in plot and in message, left entirely to the viewer to decide what has happened)leave you completely in awe. Few films have ever left it to the sub-conscience and the subliminal to lead you towards the conclusion. Intelligent, ethereal, poignant and impossible. Classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Passenger revisited, 2 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I was curious to see how much the film had dated as it was made in 1975. It had in some respects - costume, bell bottom jeans and so on, but cinematographically and in the editing and direction it stood the test of time well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One you Must Have, 16 April 2013
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This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Absolutely fantastic film. Wonderful mood and easy relaxed pace...a masterpiece. . This was so well directed and even though gently lead you through the story, one went with a certain amount of trepidation...Got to be one of the best films .
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The Passenger [DVD] [2006]
The Passenger [DVD] [2006] by Michelangelo Antonioni (DVD - 2006)
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