The Passenger (1975) | Original Film Trailer

Originally released in 1975, The Passenger is, on the simplest level, a suspense story about a man trying to escape his own life. This haunting film is a portrait of a drained journalist, played by Jack Nicholson, whose deliverance is an identity exchange with a dead man. The film was shot on location and takes Nicholson on an incredible journey through Africa, Spain, Germany and England.

As with all of Antonioni’s work, however, there is another dimension. From beginning to end we are witnessing a probing study of the human condition. The protagonist’s fate reflects each individual’s own private thoughts about real and/or imagined destiny. The climax of the film, alone – a final sequence lasting seven minutes and taking eleven days to shoot is truly a synthesis of the movie and a tribute to the director’s art.

Antonioni, in talking about his motion picture, says: “I consider The Passenger my most stylistically mature film. I also consider it a political film as it is topical and fits with the dramatic rapport of the individual in today’s society.”

The Passenger brought together two of the screen’s most exciting personalities, Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider, who had become an overnight sensation opposite Marlon Brando in “Last Tango in Paris.” The Passenger is based on an original story by Mark Peploe and was filmed from a screenplay by Peploe, Peter Wollen and Antonioni.

This preferred director’s cut is the version of the film that was originally released in Europe under the title Professione: reporter.

About the Film

“The Passenger” was filmed on location in Spain, England, Germany and Algeria. In Spain, much use was made of Barcelona, the country’s commercial center. Scenes were shot in the Ramblas, one of the oldest and most picturesque streets in Europe. The Palaccio Guell, built by the great Spanish architect Gaudi, was used by Antonioni for an encounter between Nicholson and Schneider. Built originally for a clothing manufacturer, the Palaccio is now a museum of theatrical arts and is a surrealistic construction that defies the imagination. From Barcelona the film traveled for scenes in the streets and orange groves of Almeria, before moving to Malaga, Spain’s most chic tourist resort. Further sequences were shot in Seville, an ancient city in the heart of Andalusia, and the unit then crossed the Mediterranean to Algeria for two weeks at Fort Polignanc in the heart of the desert which doubled for the African state of Chad. During this period cast and crew lived under canvas. After the heat and primitive qualities of Spain and Algeria, the company spent five weeks in London, filming in elegant Georgian Square, a television studio and modern housing complex in Bloomsbury.

Extracts from Sony Classics