• I reserve the right to change my mind (I haven’t seen the Mystery of Oberwald– I can’t find it- and have only seen Identification of a Woman once) but The Passenger is last great work from one of cinema’s true masters
  • TSPT #161 of all-time at time I’m reviewing
  • I’ll get to it in more detail later but the tracking shot through the bars at the end of the film is the greatest single shot in Antonioni’s career (even if he did the best work of his career on the whole in the 60’s), and among the greatest single shots in cinema history
  • Nicholson said Antonioni regarded actors as moving space and nothing more
  • The famous (and perplexingly brilliant) shot is actually the penultimate shot setting up the final shot—it was shot at dusk only in the magic hour to avoid shadows and clocks in at seven minutes.
  • Alienation and identity themes- so layered and rich
  • Dazzling location shooting in Spain in the back half of the film, the flats in London, African desert opening
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  • Again and again (what a formal construct) each actor is framed in a huge amount of open space
  • Antonioni refuses to make this about plot- there’s a narrative here but it’s not his focus- again- in the hands of De Palma this is pure suspense. Not saying one is right or wrong- just style is how you tell the story- not what the story is about
  • The film actually opens in medias res—Nicholson’s Locke is lost—his car breaks down and we pan across the vastness of the desert
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  • Again, sound like Patricia Highsmith on paper—takes a dying man’s identity
  • Bravado sequence–voiceover of a past conversation between Nicholson’s Locke and the man he takes the Robertson character he takes the identity of. While in the present tense showing Jack switching the photos in the passports—then we pan over to the open window of the two men talking in a flashback. An amazing shot/sequence—Jack goes off frame in the flashback, talking, then pans to him in the present committing this crime with no shirt on visibly different
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  • Yellow and green doors in the hotel
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  • Left alone in a gaudy church, lost in a sea of apartments, in a cathedral
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  • Hanging over the open water with arms open—stunning visual motifs—and this one was clearly picked up on by PT Anderson for his trademark shot in The Master from 2012.
  • No musical score
  • Like all of Antonioni there’s infidelity (Jack’s wife, and then him of course with Maria Schneider)—main characters that disappear or show up later—Maria’s first line is 63 minutes in, gone at 106 minutes in
  • Architecture as character- the Gaudi building—gorgeous statues used to frame actors—Plaza de La Iglesia – it’s a bit like the opposite of Welles’ The Trial, Red Desert or the Moreau sequences in La Notte with modern architecture destroying characters or closing in on them— this is open—lost in it
  • After saying goodbye to Maria, Jack in white backdrop, green shutters, green plant—stunning- 107 minutes in
  • Another breathtaking shot- 111 min in—mirror work in hotel
  • The finale is genius—you cannot escape fate—slow moving tracking shot, there are bars which create the framing, the old man, the dog, the kid, Maria showing up again, police coming in, the sound design is impeccable- recalls Cuaron’s Roma— we have the beautiful structure as a backdrop. The camera moves out into the street through the bars, pivots, goes back through the bars to show death, fate, certainty—again, one of cinema’s great shots
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  • The credits roll on the next shot which is the hotel on the right half of the frame and dusk on the left
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  • A masterpiece