The Passenger (with Adam Curtis and Matthew Weiner in person)

Adam Curtis presents Antonioni’s The Passenger! Following the film, Curtis will do a Q&A, moderated by Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner (who cites Curtis’ iconic film The Century of the Self as a key influence on Mad Men).

The Passenger was made in the 1970s at the very moment when the liberal confidence was collapsing. The dream of shaping the world was falling apart not just at home, but in what was then called The Third World. Jack Nicholson travels into that world and his whole sense of identity disappears. It is a brilliant portrayal of the roots of the present day liberal confusion and retreat from reality – a retreat that helped give us Donald Trump.” –Adam Curtis

Amongst the vast red bleakness of hellish Saharan Africa, the grey architectural wonders of Barcelona and the lush greens of London, Antonioni’s trademark visual mastery of exploring man’s emotional relationship to his environment expands to a global scale in The Passenger. In the director’s final flirtation with Hollywood, Jack Nicholson drops all vestiges of his “ultimate movie star” persona, losing himself completely in a perfectly rendered feature-length slo-mo scream of despair, as he bounces from country to country, acquiring the beautiful Maria Schneider (Last Tango In Paris) as an erstwhile companion along the way to his impeccably-photographed oblivion. Reducing suspense to a minimum, Antonioni has crafted a curious and satisfying take on the “international political thriller”, transforming a typical genre exercise into a subdued, sublime travelogue of existential crisis.

Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975, 35mm, 126 min.