The Passenger

Starring Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider, Steven Berkoff and Ian Hendry 
Screenplay by Mark Peploe 
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Running time 119 minutes
Italy/Spain/France 1975

Our last screening  Nebraska was a road movie - our next film, The Passenger is a fascinating and very European take on that most American of film genres.

When David Locke, a journalist, finds the body of a fellow guest in his room in a hotel in North Africa he decides to switch identities with the corpse. Locke discovers that the dead man was running guns to rebels and is soon embroiled in a strange and dangerous plot. He teams up with a beautiful and inscrutable girl who helps him get away and they embark on mysterious journey through Spain together.

Michaelangelo Antonioni was one of the foremost European directors of the 60s and 70s. His films include Blow Up, L’Avventura and Zabriskie Point - they  frequently explore identity and alienation and are often visually quite stunning. The Passenger was one of a number of movies he made in the English language and is typically fascinating  and ambiguous in its themes and storytelling.

Playing opposite Jack Nicholson is Maria Schneider who gained lifelong notoriety for her role in Last Tango in Paris - one of the most controversial and explicit films of its era. Schneider died at the age of 58 in 2011 after an emotionally turbulent life marred by addiction and mental health problems. In The Passenger she is perfectly cast as The Girl - a freewheeling and enigmatic character who we never fully understand...

The film features a famous and intricate 7 minute tracking shot in its final act - one of the most extraordinary in cinema.