Africa, North -- Drama, Identity (Psychology) -- Drama, Impostors and imposture -- Drama, Reporters and reporting -- Drama

The Passenger

(Professione reporter)
(Profession: Reporter)


Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider, Jennie Runacre, Ian Hendry,

A penetrating political thriller, The Passenger, set in the Sahara, is also a desert film, and it resembles the much earlier L’avventura—a desert island film—with its horizontal vistas and its theme of absence. Jack Nicholson portrays a London journalist named Locke who, sent to cover a rebellion in North Africa, assumes the identity of a man, Robertson, who has died in the next hotel room. Locke is running away from being a journalist—from the codes that replace knowing, the images that replace seeing. He’s much like Monica Vitti’s Vittoria in L’eclisse in his desire for escape, for a mask. But, embracing Robertson’s globetrotting, increasingly mysterious persona, he finds himself pursuing not the man’s life, but his death. Even the camera seems to have a will toward another world: it distractedly tracks a passing camel in the desert, an anachronistic horse-drawn carriage in Munich. The film’s famous final seven-minute zoom literally draws out the pain of seeing in focus.

Judy Bloch
  • Michelangelo Antonioni
  • Mark Peploe
  • Peter Wollen
  • Luciano Tovoli
  • English
Print Info
  • Color
  • 35mm
  • 121 mins
  • Sony Pictures Classics

CineFiles is an online database of BAMPFA's extensive collection of documentation covering world cinema, past and present.

View The Passenger documents  

Michelangelo Antonioni: interiores burgueses con figura (program), Institut Valencià de l'Audiovisual i de Cinematografia Ricardo Muñoz Suay, Domènec Font, 2010

The passenger (program note), AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival, Don DeLillo, 2007

Existential despair in Antonioni's 'The Passenger' (review), Berkeley Daily Planet, Justin DeFreitas, 2007

The passenger (distributor materials), New Yorker Films, 2006

An understated Jack anchors Antonioni's leisurely thriller (review), Village Voice, J. Hoberman, 2005

Antonioni's stark 1975 classic still fascinates (review), Los Angeles Times, Carina Chocano, 2005

The passenger (Professione : Reporter) (program note), London Film Festival, 2005

'All the shapes we make': The Passenger's flight from formal stagnation (article), Qui Parle, Homay King, 1999

Michelangelo Antonioni: modernist master (press release), San Francisco Film Society, 1999

Modernist master: Michelangelo Antonioni (program note), Cinematheque Ontario/a division of Toronto International Film Festival Group, James Quandt, 1993

Displaying 10 of 22 publicly available documents.

View all The Passenger documentation on CineFiles.