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The great movie scenes: Antonioni’s The Passenger

Jack Nicholson gave perhaps his greatest performance as journalist David Locke. Youtube

The great movie scenes: Antonioni’s The Passenger

What makes a film a classic? In this monthly column, film scholar Bruce Isaacs looks at a single sequence from a classic film and analyses its brilliance.

This month he looks at Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975), a film which featured Jack Nicholson in what Nicholson once said was his greatest performance.

In this scene journalist David Locke (Jack Nicholson) is in North Africa, seeking to escape his work, wife and life by stealing the identity of a new acquaintance who has just dropped dead of a heart attack.

In a brilliantly considered exploration of time, memory and identity, Antonioni offers one of the most famous and influential camera moves of 1970s cinema.

The Passenger, 1975.

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