The Passenger film review • Michelangelo Antonioni
Actually, The Passenger initially does seem to have a political . the two of them hadn't had a close relationship for the last couple of years. . Andrew Sarris, “An End to Antonioniennui”, The Village Voice, April 14, , pp. There follows the almost wordless ending of the film that lasts ten minutes, but subservient to the goal of forming a meaningful relationship. Lawrence Russell writes on DVD issue of Antonioni's The Passenger. But at this point, you don't really know what Nicholson is doing here or what his relationship is to Even by the end, her role in determining Nicholson's fate remains.
Their conversation is significant. Robertson says that as a traveler all the taxis, airports, and hotels become the same after awhile. In an effort to make a great escape from his current and unsatisfactory self-narrative, Locke suddenly decides to switch identities with the dead man. Thanks to the fact that the two of them looked somewhat similar, he switches the photos in their passports and moves the corpse over to his own hotel room. Then he telephones the hotel manager and informs him that David Locke has just died.
Becoming David Robertson Locke has now taken on the identity of Robertson, about whom he knows next to nothing — just that there is a reference to a storage box 58 in the Munich airport. First he goes to London and, now sporting a mustache for disguise, walks though a park where he happens to casually notice a pretty young woman sitting reading on a park bench.
He then sneaks into his home and collects some useful personal documents that he will need. He notices dispassionately a note tacked onto a wall suggesting that his wife Rachel was having an affair with someone named Stephen while he was away in Africa. Clearly his relationship with his wife had been stale for some time.
The contents of that satchel contain information about firearms and weapons that Robertson was evidently selling to his African clients. Enjoying his new identity, Robertson seems happy for once.
He rents a car and stops off at a cemetery where there is a small church hosting a wedding ceremony, which Locke looks in on. Locke is watching the wedding ceremony and then looks away as if bored, but the camera continues focusing on the wedding as if the invisible witness is more interested in the wedding than Locke is MeS3. Locke now has a flashback memory of himself back home demonically enjoying a big bonfire that he has made in his back yard, much to the consternation of his critical wife.
This emphasizes their disconnect. Then the camera switches to Rachel looking out from their house onto the same backyard, which is now empty of Locke or any bonfire. Is this Locke still in flashback, or is it a cut to Rachel, perhaps in the present, by the invisible witness MeS2, MeS4? Believing him to be Robertson, they ask Locke about his documents.
Locke turns over to them his firearms info, and their delighted response is to hand him an envelope stuffed with cash. They tell him that their next meeting will be in Barcelona. Indicative of that is an ensuing flashback of her one-day visit to Locke in Africa, during which she watched while he interviewed the autocratic president of the North African country.
After the interview they have the following revealing exchange: He is supposed to be at the Parque Communal Ubraculo in Barcelona a couple of days hence. So he heads to Barcelona. Rendezvous in Barcelona Locke arrives in Barcelona.
Meanwhile back in London, Rachel learns that there was another person, David Robertson, at the hotel where David Locke died, and she asks Martin Knight to see if he can locate this person. In Barcelona, Locke is alarmed to see Knight on the street and manages to sneak away unnoticed. He randomly runs into one of the famous picturesque buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi and happens to see The Girl again, with whom he now strikes up an acquaintance.
Then the two of them take to the road in a car that Locke has rented. As they drive down the road, The Girl asks Locke what he is running away from.
He tells her to turn her back to the front seat and look backward, signifying that he is running away from everything past in the quest for freedom. The Girl does so joyously. Locke is now, finally, at least sometimes meaningfully interacting with someone, and he tells her his story about his masked identity.
At a hotel they have booked that evening, they come together and make love. They head south for the next one, which is supposed to take place in the picturesque village of Plaza de la Iglesia. But noone shows up for the appointed meeting, which is not surprising to the viewer given the fact that the two rebel operatives were murdered by government assassins in Munich. Something is clearly wrong, and she perhaps wonders if her husband is still alive somewhere.
So she heads to Spain, herself, and seeks the assistance there of the police. But Locke is becoming more depressed about the hopelessness of establishing a new narrative foundation for his life. So he sends her off on a bus so that they can rendezvous later in Tangier, while he heads for Osuna and the Hotel de La Gloria. Finale at the Hotel de La Gloria The final section of the film is really a smooth continuation of the previous section, but it is aesthetically so gloomy and elegiacal that I have identified it separately.
Barely escaping from the police searching for Robertson, Locke manages to hitch a ride to the Hotel de La Gloria. Robertson arrived hours ago. Locke disconsolately relates to her a story about a man who had been blind since birth but who had regained his sight at the age of forty. At first this man was delighted by the wonders that he saw, but then gradually he saw the world was filled with filth and clutter — aspects which had not been part of his previous imaginings.
After a few days this newly-sighted man committed suicide. The man could not forge interesting narratives from the world that he encountered. So, too, Locke expresses to the girl his submission to defeat.
Life no longer holds any interest for him, since he cannot escape the self that he despises. He rhetorically asks her why she even bothers to stick around with him. Then he instructs her to leave him. The Girl goes out into the courtyard, and Locke is left morosely smoking his cigarette in the hotel room. Through all this the camera slowly tracks forward towards the window and eventually evidently passes through the window bars and comes into the courtyard. During this period there are various random background noises heard, including a possible off-camera gunshot sound.
Then the view pans around to the right as a police car carrying Rachel comes into the courtyard and stops. The final shot shows stasis. The narrative course for David Locke and the film has come to a dead end. Locke struggled and failed to know himself, too. Narrative construction on the part of the characters was important, but subservient to the goal of forming a meaningful relationship. In The Passenger, both of these concerns are at issue.
The fact that Antonioni can convey these feelings by showing how the perception of the entire world is colored by inner psychological turmoil by, for example the various mise-en-scene techniques make the presentation aesthetically expressionistic.
Note that the original title of the film was Profession: Issue 74 Introductory note: To mark the occasion, Senses of Cinema reprints an article on the film originally published in A thrust of what Price wrote is that many commentators to that time — and since, he feels — missed the essential point of the film. In his distinctive way, he set himself to show with precision just what the film was actually about.
Yet I find that just about all contemporary reviewers of the film, certainly the American ones, from first to last, seem not to know quite what the film is about, certainly not what it is about politically.
They give their readers the impression that the film is enigmatic and difficult to explicate; and so they explicate it very little. I, on the contrary, find the film eminently clear and easy to explicate, and not just in an erudite way for other film specialists, but in a matter-of-fact, unsophisticated way for the intelligent layman.
Many reviewers, not really having understood what Antonioni was on about, make some chance, witty, or cruel remarks about the film, and, far from placing the film politically and artistically, engage in what can only be called bluffing. Or such is my feeling. I have, therefore, developed a very specific five-point litmus test to alert the reader to whether or not they are bluffing. But first, especially for those who may not have seen The Passenger, let me just give a synopsis of the storyline to help readers get a fix on what the film is about: The hero is the Jack Nicholson character, David Locke, a man in his early thirties, who is a successful, respected, and rather famous maker of television documentaries for the British public television network.
He specializes in political documentaries. The stranger had had an appointment book with meeting dates in Munich, Barcelona, and Osuna; and Locke decides to keep the appointments. We learn that the stranger had in fact been selling guns to the guerrillas in that African country, and the contacts now simply believe that Locke is that man.
The wife, meanwhile, discovers that Locke has changed identities and is, in fact, alive.
In fact, it is her actions that help lead the secret police to him. Well, here is my five-point litmus test to determine whether a critic of the film is bluffing or not: The country is Chad, where political events have suddenly heated up again as I write this in You would think, would you not, that if a film director Antonioni had just made a film about the maker of a television documentary about a revolutionary country the Nicholson characterand that this director Antonioni had himself just made a television documentary about a revolutionary country, you could postulate some connection?
This design too is quite simple. First, why is it called The Passenger? This rather vague meaning is what some reviewers very few call attention to. The word has two further meanings, never really mentioned in any review, but impeccably relevant: But the real meaning of the title, and the one that helps alert us to the political thrust of the film, is more specific.
The Passenger ( film) - Wikipedia
It falls safely for a hit, usually an extra-base one. The term lends itself to interesting metaphorical use; if a non-baseball film were indeed to be so titled, the first thing we would try to do would be to see how that image functioned as a metaphor to help us place the meaning of the film.
Reporter, and that is still how it is known in Europe. Locke carries a Uher taperecorder, Robertson carries a Walther pistol.
The Film Sufi: “The Passenger” - Michelangelo Antonioni ()
At the constitutional convention of what ended up the Russian Communist Bolshevik Party, there was a split among the delegates as to who should be allowed to be members of the Party. One group, led by Martov, wanted to let in anyone who sympathized with the goals of the Party. The other group, led by Lenin, wanted to let in only those who submitted to Party discipline and who would act when the Party ordered them to.
They called him a charlatan and a clown and tried to keep his film from being shown in Sweden, France, and Greece. Of having fought with the fascist troops!
I want the Chinese to know this: I was on the other side! What sense would life have then? The events in The Passenger take place in the film came out in It is just south of Libya, about the size of France, Spain and Italy combined, with between four and five million people.