Credit: MGM
by Dhruv Goyal Featured Film Kicking the Canon Kicking the Canon

The Passenger — Michelangelo Antonioni

October 20, 2023

Michelangelo Antonioni’s endlessly digressive Blow-Up (1966), the Italian director’s first of four films produced outside his home country, features a particular digression that links it directly to his final international production, The Passenger (1975). Blow-Up’s central character, Thomas, is a hot-shot fashion photographer living a materially successful but emotionally unfulfilling life in Swinging Sixties London. His dissatisfaction has many sources, but he — in a particularly unpredictable moment — links his emotional sickness to disdain for his job. He wants to escape (fashion) photography’s vanity; to, in his own words, “go off London” and be “free.” When his editor asks what he’ll do, though, he has no answer. In The Passenger, personal disillusionment from professional (and political) dissatisfaction is the film’s central conceit. Unlike Thomas, The Passenger’s protagonist — a war reporter doubling as something of a documentarian — seems to know what he will do when he’s free.

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