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31 of 32 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

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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 15 months ago by David Halliday


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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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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Flawed Masterpiece, 17 Nov. 2006
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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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars it's not the girl!, 21 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
the passenger - much of it encompasses what i love about film and the sensations film can bring to the fore. there are several passages, scenes and moments which are quite magical. it demonstrates how in the right hands film has the potential to do things that no other art form can achieve. jack nicholson grizzled and puzzled, maria schneider full of wonder and knowing, gaudi rooftops, sahara rebel confusion and beautiful dunes, broken telephone lines, conversations in parallel times, white horses in germany, guns in churches, mistaken identity with a fake moustache, dusty roads in the south of spain, and lots of different shades of sun. the list is endless and it's a fantastic chase.

another reviewer mentioned "posh nit wits" who also appear in the film and detract from the main thrust. jenny runacre is irritating as hell, steven berkoff as absurd a buffoon you could imagine and a hungover ian hendry struggling terribly in the barcelona heat is a comical remnant from a satanic carry on film. these scenes serve as a vulgar riposte to the sumptuousness of the passenger's dream and escape and his passive acceptance of his ultimate fate.

dvd - fine. plus a highly charismatic commentary by jack nicholson. he is a very funny man even when he's not trying. plus the trailer is great as well, a faster paced, more bombastic reflection of the film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 9 Mar. 2011
By 
A. J. Morris (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
After getting used to HD, the opening minutes of this movie worried me. Looked cheap, a bit of a mess. But... wow. I loved this film! It's intimate, fascinating, shocking and a real blast of 70s nostalgia. Maria Schneider is so 'there', I'm not sure she's even acting.
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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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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 Early Nicholson capturing his laconic style, 1 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Great movie with no high drama. Death is inevitable for the state of mind described in the early phase of the film. It is as if the people are already dead with no reason to engage with life.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Watchable existential road movie, 29 Nov. 2012
This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
NOTE: I'm unsure if I saw the original edit or the extended 2005 version.

David Locke (Jack Nicholson) is a reporter who is tired of it all. In a remote part of Africa he comes across the dead body of a man in a hotel room. He decides to swap identities with the deceased. He finds that the man has an appointment book, so Locke decides to keep the meetings in it.

Not a lot happens at a fairly slow pace. It doesn't seem to be going anywhere specific, but it pulled the rug out from under me with a circular poetic ending that was satisfying and kind of meaningful in a pretentious, don't think too much about it way.

The opening is a bit bumpy and challenging. It really doesn't make any effort to be overtly appealing and audience friendly. After he discovers the body the film picks up and is sort of enjoyable. Or at least as much as a movie like this can be. It was not designed to be straightforward entertainment as the intention was clearly to make a slow, meandering, hollow art movie. The movie is all about tone and mood with little regard for telling a conventional story.

I was going along with the flow and I didn't mind the film until the last half hour. There is only so much vagueness I can take before it starts to stretch my patience. My usually complaint with these type of movies is that they could do with being as short as possible. The story can be told just as effectively at 80-90 minutes as it can over two hours. The film falls into this category. Some pruning wouldn't have done any harm. Movies don't need to be slow to signify that they are important and saying something.

The last half hour was hard going but the last seven minutes are impressive. It was cleverly conceived and filmed with a bit of surreal poetry to it.

The characters are very disconnected, which is the point. They are very sketchy with little to no dialogue to say to each other. Basically it's your typical say something by saying nothing art movie. The dialogue scenes never really get going, leaving whole relationships massively underdeveloped; and the gun-running subplot barely gets started.

It's not technically a well made movie. I watched a high definition TV broadcast and the film looked cheap, nasty and dirty. The camera pans are very creaky. It's like the tripod needed a good squirt of WD40. Visually I was reminded of the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood Dollars trilogy. The dusty isolated towns and the dubbed on later soundtrack are very reminiscent of those films.

The soundtrack is very odd. The ambient sounds (wind, trees rustling, office and street noises, traffic etc) are very high in the audio mix. It's a very noisy movie because of this. Also the sound effects are loud so they have an exaggerated unreality to them. I don't remember hearing any music in the film.

It was alright. It could have been significantly better and more entertaining. There are a bunch of interesting ideas in it (his wife chasing after him, how the film ends) but the story barely gets going. It's an existential film from an existential director so I knew what I was letting myself in for. I just feel the plot could have been better developed, the pace tightened (and the running time reduced) and that the characters could have been allowed to talk to each other for more than a few inconclusive terse words.

I didn't mind the film for the first ninety minutes. The last half hour was a bit of a crawl but the ending was worth it. The tone and feel of the film makes it worth seeing. As I said, I really like the ending. On balance I would say it was alright, but not something I can get excited by. There are good and bad things about the film. Overall the bad is more prominent than the good. I would describe the movie as below average. It will probably stay with me for weeks later as I doubt it's easily forgotten.

The only other Michelangelo Antonioni movie I've seen is Blow Up (1966). I think The Passenger is the weaker film of the two.

NOTE 1/12/12: Already looking back on it I feel much kinder towards it. I gave it two stars but I've now upped it to three.

Blow-Up (1966) - It's a good solid film even though it has a plot that could be told in 30 minutes. It's not that slow feeling until the last stretch, after the two aspiring models leave, after that it does begin to drag. To call it a masterpiece is to go crazy but it's an enjoyable enough film that doesn't choke on its own pretentions. It also gets bonus points for being lucky enough to be set in a culturally important time and place. It could have done with losing two redundant scenes though - the photoshoot with the five models at the start as we've already seen him do a photoshoot in the previous scene, and the Yardbirds concert also adds nothing of note.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Decent pressing, 3 Jan. 2013
By 
M. J. Smith - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Passenger [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Decent disc of this now very old (dated?) but in lots of ways classic movie. Of course the style, daring in its time, seems more everyday, not to say slow, now ...
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The Passenger [DVD] [2006]
The Passenger [DVD] [2006] by Michelangelo Antonioni (DVD - 2006)
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