Blu-Ray Review: The Passenger

There is something deep down inside of every one of us which longs to escape our lives and become someone else. To throw off the shackles of our past, leave all our choices and mistakes behind and start afresh. It’s a very human yearning, but it’s more of a pipedream than an obtainable reality. Our connections to our lives and our responsibilities are too strong a pull. However, in The Passenger, the premise is just that. Jack Nicholson plays a man so tired of his bourgeois liberal life that when he gets the opportunity he leaves everything behind.

David Locke (Nicholson), a journalist, is in the Sahara Desert to film the final pieces for a documentary about revolutionaries. After being frustrated in his attempts to interview the rebels he trudges back to his hotel. Only to discover that Robertson (Charles Mulvehill), an English acquaintance, is lying dead in his bed. Locke, fed up with his life and disillusioned with his work, decides to adopt Robertson’s identity. He travels to Europe, following Robertson’s appointment book, only to discover that he’s involved in some shady business. In Barcelona, he meets a student (Maria Schneider) who decides to join him. Whilst in London, Locke’s wife (Jenny Runacre) tries to track down Robertson to find out what happened in the last days of her husband’s life.

The Passenger is a strange downbeat drama which in many ways shouldn’t work. It’s sprawling, sometimes seemingly out of control, with director Michelangelo Antonioni prepared to leave the camera rolling long-after the natural conclusion of a scene. However, along with the chemistry between Nicholson and Schneider and Antonioni’s patient and sweeping camera, this languidness is what makes The Passenger into such an offbeat masterpiece. It’s a treatise on the ennui of life during a period of social and political flux.

Indicator Limited Edition Special Features:

• 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

The Passenger is released on Blu-ray by Powerhouse Films as part of their Indicator Series on 19 March.

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