Michelangelo Antonioni - "The Passenger"

“Wouldn’t it be better if we could just forget old places, forget everything that happens and just throw it all away, day by day?” asks the journalist David Locke, in Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975). Played with an uncharacteristic restraint by Jack Nicholson, Locke discovers his chance to ‘forget everything’ while staying in the only hotel for what seems like a thousand miles, somewhere deep in the Sahara desert. After days of searching guerrilla-occupied emptiness for an interview that never happens, abandoned by his guide and ditching the Land Rover in a sand dune, Locke returns to find that the hotel’s only other guest, a white man called Robertson, has died. The opportunity for an identity switch is too good, and so Locke trades passport photos and packs his bag as though he were shedding an old skin, and journeys into another person’s life that encompasses Africa, London, Munich and south of Spain. Moody, slow and achingly beautiful, The Passenger is the next best thing for those who’ve ever waited in airport lounges and wondered, even for a second, about catching a different plane. JD

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