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SYNOPSIS: The mutual admiration between actor Jack Nicholson and director Michelangelo Antonioni resulted in the compelling psychological drama The Passenger. Nicholson, in one of his finest performances, plays David Locke, a disillusioned American reporter who is sent on a grueling mission to North Africa. When he stumbles across the body of a dead man in his hotel room, Locke, long desirous of starting life over again, assumes the corpse's identity. He soon discovers that the man he's pretending to be is involved in espionage activities on behalf of a terrorist group. Making the acquaintance of a mysterious woman (Maria Schneider), he finds a kindred spirit -- a woman as "lost" as he. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide


REVIEW: Originally released in 1975, The Passenger is, on the simplest level, a suspense story about a man trying to escape his own life. This haunting film is a portrait of a drained journalist, played by Jack Nicholson, whose deliverance is an identity exchange with a dead man. The film was shot on location and takes Nicholson on an incredible journey through Africa, Spain, Germany and England.

As with all of Antonioni’s work, however, there is another dimension. From beginning to end we are witnessing a probing study of the human condition. The protagonist’s fate reflects each individual’s own private thoughts about real and/or imagined destiny. The climax of the film, alone – a final sequence lasting seven minutes and taking eleven days to shoot is truly a synthesis of the movie and a tribute to the director’s art.

Antonioni, in talking about his motion picture, says: “I consider The Passenger my most stylistically mature film. I also consider it a political film as it is topical and fits with the dramatic rapport of the individual in today’s society.”

The Passenger brought together two of the screen’s most exciting personalities, Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider, who had become an overnight sensation opposite Marlon Brando in “Last Tango in Paris.” The Passenger is based on an original story by Mark Peploe and was filmed from a screenplay by Peploe, Peter Wollen and Antonioni.


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