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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.

The Passenger, 1975.

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

Read more: Does The Great Beauty signal an Italian film renaissance?

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.

See also:

The great movie scenes: Hitchcock’s Vertigo
The great movie scenes: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The great movie scenes: Steven Spielberg’s Jaws
The great movie scenes: Hitchcock’s Psycho
The great movie scenes: The Godfather
The great movie scenes: Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

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