Academy Awards 1994 -
Honorary Awards: Michelangelo Antonioni
New York Times - 04/10/1975
"...Primarily a superior suspense melodrama....Antonioni's most entertaining film..."
New York Times - 10/28/2005
"[F]ew filmmakers have revealed so much beauty inside a film frame."
Entertainment Weekly - 11/11/2005
"[I]t retains a singular intrigue: It's the first, and probably the last, thriller ever made about depression." -- Grade: A-
New York Times - 04/25/2006
"The underlying theme -- the alienated intellectual's attempt to find an authentic place in the world -- dates back to his work in the 1950's."
Premiere - 06/01/2006 4 stars out of 4 -- "Beautifully shot throughout Europe and North Africa, it's a movie of quiet surfaces that's nevertheless packed with brilliant observations, provocations and emotions. A masterpiece."
Total Film - 07/01/2006 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he film climaxes with a stunning seven-minute single take, which unites the story's multiple strands while preserving the lead players' mystique."
Description by OLDIES.com:
Three-time Oscar-winner Jack Nicholson (Best Actor, As Good As It Gets - 1997, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - 1975 & Best Supporting Actor, Terms Of Endearment - 1983) and iconic screen beauty Maria Schneider (Last Tango In Paris) star in The Passenger, a cinematically brilliant romantic thriller written and directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni (1995 Honorary Award) (Blow Up, L'Avventura).
When a fellow traveler dies suddenly, burned-out journalist David Locke (Jack Nicholson) assumes his identity. Using the dead man's datebook as a guide, Locke travels throughout Europe and Africa, taking meetings with dangerous gun runners and falling for a beguiling young woman (Marie Schneider). But his exciting newfound freedom carries a fateful price as Locke realizes he is in over his head.
Featuring a tour-de-force performance by Nicholson, The Passenger won the Bodil Award in 1976 for Best European Film and was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival. Newly remastered, this classic is now released on DVD for the first time.
For decades, Michelangelo Antonio's existential drama has been nearly impossible to track down, but thanks to Sony Pictures Classics, THE PASSENGER finally gets the exposure that it deserves (making this event even more noteworthy is the fact that the re-released version contains Antonioni's preferred 126-minute cut). In an impressively low-key performance, Jack Nicholson plays David Locke, a reporter who is researching a story in the North African desert. But when he discovers the dead body of a mysterious man he had just recently befriended, a strange compulsion overtakes him. Passing off the dead man as himself, Locke assumes the identity of Martin Knight and travels to Barcelona on a dangerous mission. Once there, he finds himself falling for a beautiful girl (Maria Schneider) as he drifts further and further away from the man he once was. It isn't long before he realizes just how much danger he is in, but at that point, it might be too late to turn back.
Antonio's gorgeous, haunting film incorporates elements of a traditional Hollywood thriller, only to leave them behind in search of something deeper. The result is an unsettling and daring work that casts a truly hypnotic spell. Nicholson's surprisingly downplayed performance is perfect for the role, as is Schneider's timid, beautiful presence. Featuring one of the most unforgettable closing shots in movie history, THE PASSENGER is a must-see for anyone with a serious interest in film history.
This film screened as part of Lincoln Center's 2005 New York Film Festival.
A melancholy, depressed, and jaded television reporter assumes the identity of a dead man while at a hotel in a north African country, not knowing that the man was a renowned arms smuggler. The newsman sees this switch as a last desperate chance to escape his old life and start anew. However, as he begins to take on the characteristics of his new persona and understand his shady involvements, the decision becomes a risky one which leads to an inevitable showdown.