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22 May 2016: Adaptations: The Passenger


"We know that under the image revealed there is another which is truer to reality and under this image still another and yet again still another under this last one, right down to the true image of that reality, absolute, mysterious, which no one will ever see or perhaps right down to the decomposition of any image, of any reality." – Michelangelo Antonioni

The Passenger
Michelangelo Antonioni
1975 | 122 min | Colour | 35mm
Introduced by Mark Peploe 

In the early 1970s, Peter Wollen, together with Mark Peploe, wrote the screenplay for The Passenger. An exploration of contingency and doubling, the film sees David Locke (Jack Nicholson), a journalist confused about his role in relation to the "reality" he is meant to be reporting, encounter a recently deceased man who happens to look very similar to him. In an enigmatic scene, Locke assumes his double’s identity. Using the dead man’s diary as his guide, he embarks on a dangerous adventure, moving around Europe in a rented convertible with a girl (Maria Schneider) he meets by chance.

The Passenger also marks a crucial turning point in Wollen’s artistic development. In an interview with Lee Russell, Wollen said: "After The Passenger went into production, I sort of thought I’d achieved whatever goals I ever had as far as the industry was concerned – Antonioni, MGM, Jack Nicholson! So I turned to film-making myself, but as an experimental film-maker, working with Laura Mulvey." 

Presented in association with Whitechapel Gallery as part of the retrospective celebrating the works of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, curated by Oliver Fuke.
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