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The Passenger

4.3 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Three-time Oscar(r)-winner Jack Nicholson (Best Actor, As Good As It Gets - 1997, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - 1975; Best Supporting Actor, Terms of Endearment - 1983) and iconic screen beauty Maria Schneider (Last Tango in Paris) star in THE PASSENGER, a cinematically brilliant romantic thriller written and directed by Oscar(r)-winning filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni 1995 Honorary Award (Blow Up, L'Avventura). When a fellow traveler dies suddenly, burned-out journalist David Locke (Jack Nicholson) assumes his identity. Using the dead man's datebook as a guide, Locke travels throughout Europe and Africa, taking meetings with dangerous gun runners and falling for a beguiling young woman (Marie Schneider). But his exciting newfound freedom carries a fateful price as Locke realizes he is in over his head. Featuring a tour-de-force performance by Nicholson, THE PASSENGER won the Bodil Award in 1976 for Best European Film and was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 1975 Cannes Fi


The Passenger is one of those movies that is all about the vision of the director, in this case, screen legend Michelangelo Antonioni. Starring none other than Jack Nicholson, and featuring a plot billed as an international romantic thriller, The Passenger defies expectations by turning the genre on its head, making the characters and the story secondary to theme and tone. London-based Journalist David Locke (Nicholson) is working in North Africa when a fellow traveler by the name of David Robertson, who looks remarkably like him, happens to die suddenly. Burned out and depleted, Locke decides to assume the dead man’s identity, drops everything, and starts again as a new man with a new life. With no idea of who Robertson was or what he did for a living, Locke uses Robertson’s datebook as a guide as he travels through Europe and Africa, takes meetings with people he finds out are gun runners, and ends up falling for a beautiful young woman (Maria Schneider). As Robertson, David Locke thinks he has found an exhilirating new freedom, but the fact is he's in over his head: there are people looking for him and his life could be in danger.

The movie is a thriller in structure only. While designed for suspense, it’s just a premise for Antonioni to explore on themes of identity, humankind’s seemingly futile relationship to the world around us, and isolation. For Antonioni, the action is the means by which the image unfolds, and not the other way around. The actors and the plot are set pieces, simply smaller means to a larger end, and the image and atmosphere supersede all else. A slow pace, long, lingering shots, a focus on emptiness, and a detached, almost brutally objective point of view are the trademarks on full display here. Especially notable is the stunning seven-minute long shot in the final scene, one of the most famous in cinema history, which Nicholson, in his commentary, tags as an "Antonioni joke." It caps a crowning achievement by one of the big screen’s most visionary directors.

On the DVD:
The commentaries are most definitely welcome guides, and those looking for a way into the movie and into Antonioni’s head will really enjoy them. Jack Nicholson provides one commentary track where he generously shares his memories of the shoot, his thoughts on the movie thirty years on, and lets out the secret of how they managed to get the camera through the bars on the window for that seven-minute shot in the last scene. On the second commentary track, journalist Aurora Irvine and screenwriter Mark Peploe offer more of a wide-angle lens view of the movie and its place in history. Both are insightful narratives—Nicholson’s is particularly enjoyable--and make excellent additions to the DVD. --Daniel Vancini

Special Features

  • Commentary by Jack Nicholson
  • Commentary by journalist Aurora Irvine and screenwriter Mark Peploe

Product Details

  • Actors: Jenny Runacre, Ian Hendry, Steven Berkoff, Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider
  • Directors: Michelangelo Antonioni
  • Producers: Carlo Ponti
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 25, 2006
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E33W0I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,991 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Passenger" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Antonioni movies are slow paced (or as i see it not over-accelerated) in depth portraits of a transformation that takes place.. In 'L'aventura' it was the dissapearance of one of the characters and its subsequent effect on the people searching for her.. In 'La Notte' it was a transformation that took place in a marriage.. In L'eclisse Antonioni showed us a woman drifting from one relationship into another.. and so on, and so on... 'The Passenger' is another curious, enigmatic, detailed, and slow paced film that is impossible to solve or analyze to perfection - but even harder to ignore.. Antonioni's desert landscapes are the perfect backdrop for a man who seems to be so alone - and lost.. A man who changes his identity, maybe to escape his failed marriage (we can't be certain if this is the reason - everything is only hinted at) - only to face the same fate of the man whose identity he took.. This is one of Antonioni's most mysterious and most impressive films.. Jack Nicholson's performance is one of his best. This is what movies are capable of at their best.
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Format: VHS Tape
Unlike Antonioni's two attempts at capturing the personal alienation brought about by the cultural changes of the 60s--Zabriskie Point and Blow-Up--The Passenger is a signficantly more grounded film that focuses as well on alienation, but uses a diversity of foreign cultures to underline one man's alienation from life regardless of location.
The two films prior to The Passenger, also set outside the director's native country, but now obviously dated, tried using specific individual cultural settings (America and England) to highlight the emptiness of human behavior in the face of shallow cultural values. The Passenger is a decidedly more timeless film because instead of focusing on a specific culture, it wisely focuses on an individual, a globe-trotting reporter, whose own focus is on war and revolution in third world nations.
David Locke begins to grow weary of his life that constantly exposes him to the negative forces between and within nations all too common in today's world (another reason this film is still tremendously fresh and powerful today). When another man with a similar appearance suddenly dies in a small remote African village hotel Locke himself is staying in, he assumes the other man's (Robertson's) identity and follows an international trail to keep the appointments in Robertson's little black book. This takes him from Africa to Germany to Spain.
Without giving too much away here, it becomes all too clear that Locke--now Robertson--wants to escape himself. Antonioni, in collaboration with brilliant scripter Mark Peploe, moves us with Locke/Robertson from place to place as he blindly follows his nose, or, more accurately, runs from other noses following him--one of which is his own.
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Format: DVD
Jack Nicholson says the making of Michelangelo Antonioni's "The Passenger" was "the biggest adventure in filming I ever had in my life." That's saying plenty, and probably explains why the actor did his first solo commentary for the DVD. Nicholson clearly remains a disciple of his "Passenger" director.

The actor frets about talking over some of the master's mysterioso scenes, apologizing for "distracting" viewers. No worries -- Nicholson is great company, of course, and his memories of making "The Passenger" are rich and fairly detailed.

The restored "Passenger" made the rounds of art houses last fall. The film needs to be seen on a cinema screen but it's rewarding on DVD as well. Repeat viewings pay off as the movie reveals more of its secrets with every spin.

A second commentary track comes from screenwriter Mark Peploe ("The Sheltering Sky"), who based the tale on his experiences as a docu maker. Peploe's talk drags at times, but if you want to dig into the movie he provides a lot of detail. The journalist who shares the track just saw the film for the first time and adds nothing.

The remastered "Passenger" looks quite good for a 1970s movie, its images wear-free and mostly easy on the eyes -- a tad stringent or sun-bleached on occasion, probably by design. Images are widescreen, of course, enhanced for 16x9 monitors. The two-channel audio is good enough.
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Jack Nicholson plays David Locke, a successful but jaded reporter in a mid life crisis. His mixed up mid Atlantic origins, failing marriage and dissatisfaction with his work come to a head in a small hotel in an obscure town in a war torn African country. The only other guest is the enigmatic business man Mr Robertson who confesses to having no family or friends only a list of appointments. The mid-life crisis fantasy turns into reality for Locke when Robertson dies from a heart attack. Locke switches passport photos, assumes the other man's identity and heads off to keep the apointments.
The list of apointments in the dead man's diary lead Locke on a journey across Europe. He is pursued by a team of assassins who, believing him to be the real Mr Robertson, want to kill the man selling guns to the rebels in their country. Also on the trail are the police together with his wife who is the only other person in the film to have realised the identity swap. Despite the state of her marriage, (she has taken a lover) she still cares about him and wants to warn about the danger that he faces.
No mid life crisis film would be complete without the younger woman with beautiful eyes and no past herself who falls for the leading man. Maria Schneider plays this role very well providing both an innocent acceptance and a sophisticated understanding of Locke's game.
Very few actors could have played the part of Locke as well as Nicholson. He brings an air of detachment to the part that fits in with the character's behaviour. He is taking part in another man's life but as a spectator.
As well as the storyline, the film is shot with the artistic poise and exquisite technique that I always enjoy when I see the work of director Antonioni.
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