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Anna Maria Ferrero,
A journalist researching a documentary in the Sahara Desert meets a gunrunner who dies suddenly. When the journalist notices that they have a similar appearance, he assumes the recently deceased's identity and accepts the consequences that it brings. Written by
[from Locke's recorder]
We translate every situation, every experience into the same old codes. We just condition ourselves.
Robertson, the Dead Man:
[from Locke's recorder]
We're creatures of habits.
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One of Jack Nicholson's best but also least known films, `The Passenger' or `Professione: Reporter' is a haunting examination of the desire to escape and start afresh and is without doubt Antonioni's best English language film, eclipsing both `Blowup' and `Zabriskie Point'. Nicholson's role as a world-weary television journalist (David Locke) isn't a particularly demanding one but it is fascinating to see him give a performance so different from anything else we have seen from him and one which is much better than the horny little devil efforts he has sadly specialised in since `One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'.
Some may find the opening twenty minutes of the film, where there is virtually no dialogue, hard-going but this perfectly illustrates the sparse and confusing environment of the North African desert where the film begins. We are also treated to a marvellous scene between Locke and the man whose identity he later assumes where a tape recording and flashback are ingeniously merged into one and then separated again. Antonioni creates a mood that is almost indefinable throughout, a kind of hollow detachment which is exactly the perspective that Locke has on the world which has gradually worn him down yet the director still manages to conjure up power and simple romance between Locke and the girl he meets who is played by Maria Schneider. The film was not a hit at the box-office which is not surprising considering it's uncommercial style but artistically and cinematically it is a triumph of innovation.
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