Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni
Countries & Regions: France, Italy, Spain, United States
Length: 113 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 3 July 2006
Cat No: CDR70303
Languages(s): English, French, German
Hard of Hearing Subtitles: English
Subtitles: Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
Screen ratio 1:1.85
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The arrival of The Passenger (aka Professione: Reporter) on DVD means a welcome crossing-out of one of the titles at the top of many people's most-wanted lists. It's worth the wait too. For those who think of Antonioni as the detached chronicler of human alienation, The Passenger is a bit of a surprise - there's humour (much of it courtesy of the wryly amused fatalism of Jack Nicholson's central performance), there's warmth in human interactions, and Antonioni uses colour, sublimely, as if it was about to be outlawed.
Questions of identity and escape are still central of course. Nicholson plays reporter David Locke, lost in the middle of his own life, and who at the beginning of the film is quite literally going nowhere. His Landrover beached in dunes in North Africa, he heads back to his hotel, where the death of a fellow guest enables him to trade his life for another's. He soon finds though that he has unwittingly assumed the identity of an arms dealer. He nevertheless continues on the man's itinerary, accompanied by a free-spirited architectural student, played by Maria Schneider.
The camerawork in The Passenger is justifiably acclaimed. Antonioni talked of using the camera as an objective presence and one not constrained by characters' subjective needs. This makes for a fascinating watch. However, nothing tops the seven minute shot that records the famed final scene at the Hotel de la Gloria, in which the camera leaves Locke's room, passing through the bars of the window, slowly wheeling round in a perfect arc of equanimity, then taking in the interior scene once more from outside the bars.