Review: The Passenger

Blu-ray: The Passenger (1975)

While containing more dialogue than many of director Michelangelo Antonioni’s previous movies, The Passenger still focuses the majority of its narrative on the visual rather than the auditory. The camera follows the character of Locke (Jack Nicholson) like a ghostly apparition, committing his every move onto celluloid in what at times seem insignificant moments, yet as events unfold, both in the present and in the past, the pieces of the jigsaw finally come together in a shocking, yet thoroughly satisfying climax.

The Passenger is yet another Indicator release showcasing Nicholson at his best (see The Fortune, The Border, and The Last Detail as proof that Jack’s acting chops could match-up with anyone onscreen), possessing a screen presence that holds your attention even while the character may be involved in the most mundane of tasks.

Locke is a war journalist and frustrated and not being able to locate any significant action to report back on from the African desert. While taking a rest in an isolated hotel, the man in the adjacent room dies and Locke assumes his identity, leaving everyone to think that it is him who has died.

Why does he do this? Who exactly is he? What does he want?

These questions and many more keep you watching, as answers, and occasionally just clues, are drip fed to you as proceedings slowly drag you ever more into the feeling of unease and uncertainty that Locke is also feeling.

The Passenger is a stark movie, both in its visuals and in its storytelling. The lack of music gives it an almost documentary feel, which heightens the tension of the events as they slowly unfold before you. You don’t need to know everything about Locke, his ambiguity adding to his appeal and drawing you deeper into his thought processes.

Nicholson’s name may forever be associated with his more ‘mad jack’ performances in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Batman, and The Witches of Eastwick, but it is in movies such as The Passenger, as well as the aforementioned titles also released in Powerhouse Films Indicator series of releases, that Jack truly shines as an actor to be admired.

• High Definition remaster
• Original mono audio
• Alternative presentation with original Italian Professione: reporter titles and credits
• Audio commentary with actor Jack Nicholson (2006)
• Audio commentary with screenwriter Mark Peploe and journalist Aurora Irvine (2006)
• New audio commentary with film historian Adrian Martin (2018)
Jenny Runacre on ‘The Passenger’ (2018, 15 mins): new interview in which the South African-born English actor recalls the film’s production
Steven Berkoff on ‘The Passenger’ (2018, 11 mins): new interview in which the actor-writer-director remembers working with Antonioni
Profession Reporter (1975, 5 mins): Michelangelo Antonioni discusses The
in an archival interview conducted at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival
Antonioni on Cinema (1975, 5 mins): the acclaimed filmmaker discusses The Passenger and his philosophy of cinema
The Final Sequence (1985, 13 mins): Antonioni analyses The Passenger’s much-celebrated climactic sequence
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Amy Simmons, Antonioni’s production notes, archival interviews with Antonioni and Nicholson, and film credits
• UK premiere on Blu-ray

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Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.