49 The Passenger

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ellipsis7
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#51 Post by ellipsis7 » Sat Sep 17, 2005 6:23 am

Trust me. I am not God, but I am Antonioni'

As Peter Bowles discovered while receiving direction from Antonioni on BLOW UP... Full story here

For me he is pretty much THE MAN (along with a few others)!

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Barmy
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#52 Post by Barmy » Mon Sep 19, 2005 12:35 pm


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Fletch F. Fletch
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#53 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Wed Oct 26, 2005 1:50 pm

Here's an excellent write-up of the film and a particularly interesting passage regarding the different versions of the movie:

[quote]Nicholson was unhappy with all suitors for a theatrical and subsequent DVD release until discussions began with Sony Pictures Classics in early 2003, with a deal finalized in May 2004. In the meantime, Professione only rarely popped up on the special exhibition and festival circuit: in Canada, Cinematheque Ontario's 1998 screening as part of its comprehensive Antonioni retrospective amounted to a sighting of Halley's Comet. The new release print is culled from elements that have resided in reportedly excellent film vaults.

But nothing is ever simple with The Passenger. Sony Classics was originally intending to release Antonioni's hated MGM edition. As part of the research for this essay for Cinema Scope, I came across Antonioni's unqualified condemning statement (on page 218 of the edited compilation of the director's writings and interviews, The Architecture of Vision) and passed it along to Michael Barker, co-President of Sony Classics and Richard Pena, director of the New York Film Film Festival, where the film is receiving a special presentation. The evidence, fortunately, was convincing enough for Sony Classics to pull the MGM version and instead release the longer version, which will retain the title of The Passenger. (These changes won't affect the scheduled Los Angeles premiere in mid-September and the New York Film Festival screening prior to release.) That there has been no apparent effort to search for the 20-odd minutes' worth of material (described vividly by Antonioni in The Architecture of Vision, in a chapter tellingly titled “The Passenger that you didn't seeâ€

rossbrew
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#54 Post by rossbrew » Sat Oct 29, 2005 1:02 pm

The Passenger will be playing here in vancouver at the Cinematheque during the 3rd week of November along with Pickpocket....gonna be awesome!

Tim
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#55 Post by Tim » Sat Oct 29, 2005 7:27 pm

Saw it this evening at the London Film Festival. The print looked terrific and the film was as compelling as when I first saw it on its original release.

BWilson
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#56 Post by BWilson » Mon Nov 07, 2005 4:04 pm

I saw it on Friday. I thought it was excellent. Possibly my favorite Antonioni film. It had two things going for it:

1. It didn't feel as dated as Blow-Up
2. All the usual Antonioni opaqueness and experimental form was placed into a much more conventional thriller/suspense frame work that kept my mind on the film.

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ellipsis7
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#57 Post by ellipsis7 » Wed Nov 09, 2005 6:03 am

Go to Amazon.com and THE PASSENGER DVD webpage - it cannot be ordered yet - but it says...

Availability: This title will be released on May 23, 2006.

Whooppee!!!

rwaits
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#58 Post by rwaits » Sat Nov 12, 2005 3:08 pm

Any guesses on who's releasing this? And what ever happened to the edition of Zabriskie point that Roger Waters' site listed over a year ago??

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#59 Post by a7m4 » Mon Nov 28, 2005 8:12 pm

I was at the Academy screening of the Passenger a few months ago and yoshimori's friends write up is spot on. I mean first of all to have Jack Nicholson and Michelangelo Antonioni 10 feet in front of you is pretty odd to being with but when Nicholson started going off it was extremely awkward. It seemed like the audience wasn't sure if they should laugh or what, but I can honestly say it was one of weirdest experiences I have had.

Aside from the pre-screening discussion the film itself is great. I was planning on seeing it again when It played at the Nuart in Santa Monica a few weeks ago, but I wasn't able to make it. I'm hoping the dvd release will have a good transfer and some decent extras.

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Matt
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#60 Post by Matt » Mon Nov 28, 2005 9:52 pm

Anyone familiar enough with this film to comment on its cinematography? I saw the re-release this past weekend and the print was incredibly grainy. I'm not really complaining--I love the grainy look--but I'm wondering if the heavy grain was intentional or a result of the print being several generations removed from the original negative.

I've never seen an Antonioni film have anything less than crisp, pristine cinematography, and Luciano Tovoli's work is usually a paragon of clarity. At the same time, though, I can see why Antonioni might have thought a rough, grainy, documentary-style look would suit the story, and it was certainly a popular stylistic trope in the mid-1970s.

I've not seen Zabriskie Point. How does its cinematography compare?

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david hare
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#61 Post by david hare » Mon Nov 28, 2005 10:02 pm

The Passenger had a similar color palette to Zabriskie Point (obviously) during the desert scenes.
Elsewhere however Antonioni seems to set up a contrary blue based tonality for the scenes in London and Barcelona, whereas ZP seems to immerse itself in a wider range of colors.

As for grain The Passenger used to look like a standard Eastman print from the late 70s - reasonably fine grain on first release prints. It is impossible to compare it to ZP because the original theatrical release prints of ZP were stunning, as is the LD, and could very possibly be undocumented Technicolor IB postives from the Eastman neg. (In other words the color was more cleanly saturated and the grain is finer.) Anyhow I don't think Passenger should be showing excessive grain!

If memory is any indication of visual quality- the first release screenings of ZP in 1970 are burnt into my mind's eye, whereas the first release of Pasenger five years later is almost a blur visually but impactful thematically.

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Lino
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#62 Post by Lino » Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:31 am

matt wrote:I've not seen Zabriskie Point. How does its cinematography compare?
ZP should look nothing short of a visual and aural revelation when it hits DVD. Its scope cinematography is one of the very best I've ever seen in any movie and david is right about its vivid colors and the way they burn into your mind.

While I've yet to see The Passenger, I don't believe that Antonioni could have topped himself on a purely visual level after the cacophony of visual delights that is ZP.

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Barmy
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#63 Post by Barmy » Tue Nov 29, 2005 1:03 pm

As I reported in the ZP thread, a new print of ZP has been struck and was recently shown at MMI in Queens. Previously the best print in circulation was a French subtitled print that was shown in NYC from time to time. I was disappointed with the new print, which did in fact show some grain. The French print, on the other hand, was impossibly gorgeous. I think ZP is by FAR MA's most beautiful film. And the ZP LD is indeed superb.

Visually I think The Passenger is mildly disappointing. The London and Barcelona scenes in particular. He shows much less "control" over such things as framing than he usually does. However once MA gets into the Spanish countryside the film is beautiful.
Last edited by Barmy on Tue Nov 29, 2005 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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david hare
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#64 Post by david hare » Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:44 pm

Having seacrhed and searched I can't find the previous thread on ZP alone so I'll post this here.

In relation to the queries about an alleged "last shot" and cuts, and the political implications:

The shot of Daria marking the word "F-U-C-K" in the sand while Mark is painting the plane is cut from the LD print. And earlier in the movie, when she is driving into the desert and mutters the same word as the plane swoops over her, the expletive is obscured on the soundtrack. (But the word "motherfucker" is heared twice in the opening black power meeting sequence.) I distinctly remember these moments in the original print as it was the first time in Australian censorhsip that the words were allowed on a soundtrack, back in 1970, and much comment was made about it in the press.

Am I to think someone at Turner decided the visual and oral expletives from Daria as a whitey were too incendiary to leave in, or did the original US release cut these two moments, while the foreign releases left them in?

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kinjitsu
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#65 Post by kinjitsu » Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:07 pm

matt wrote:Anyone familiar enough with this film to comment on its cinematography? I saw the re-release this past weekend and the print was incredibly grainy. I'm not really complaining--I love the grainy look--but I'm wondering if the heavy grain was intentional or a result of the print being several generations removed from the original negative.

I've never seen an Antonioni film have anything less than crisp, pristine cinematography, and Luciano Tovoli's work is usually a paragon of clarity. At the same time, though, I can see why Antonioni might have thought a rough, grainy, documentary-style look would suit the story, and it was certainly a popular stylistic trope in the mid-1970s.

I've not seen Zabriskie Point. How does its cinematography compare?


As I recall, the originals of both films were crisp and clean, however, I just watched The Passenger and was taken aback at how poor the print was. It's playing at another (more reliable) theater nearby and am planning to see it again within the next couple days.

Although my memory may be unreliable at times, I can safely say that the print of The Passenger that I saw today was weak in comparison to what I remember. The blacks in this new print are almost non-existent, the colors were off, and indeed, the print shows much too much grain throughout. The opening title sequence was deplorable and I hoped things would improve, but alas, they did not, and the final shot, too, wasn't as I recall. I can safely say that the original contained shots that were as sharp and as crisp as one might expect from an Antonioni film.

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david hare
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#66 Post by david hare » Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:52 pm

Kinjitsu, how did the final shot differ? (Strictly speaking the second last shot - if you mean the six minute take?) The last shot is an overhead at night outside the cantina starting with the cab taking Maria Scheider and resting on the lit doorway, with the credits rolling over the shot and the guitar music.

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#67 Post by kinjitsu » Sat Dec 03, 2005 4:24 pm

davidhare wrote:Kinjitsu, how did the final shot differ? (Strictly speaking the second last shot - if you mean the six minute take?) The last shot is an overhead at night outside the cantina starting with the cab taking Maria Scheider and resting on the lit doorway, with the credits rolling over the shot and the guitar music.


Yes David, I was referring to the long shot and not the end titles, which was slightly grainy in the original film as well, only more so here. And to clarify, the long take is intact. Perhaps because the entire print was so grainy this weakened the effect of the famous long take, and effectively, detracted from my enjoyment of the entire film. Maybe I'm wrong, but I remember the original prints of The Passenger being much sharper, almost photographically so.

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david hare
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#68 Post by david hare » Sat Dec 03, 2005 5:55 pm

Agree. I wacthed my exVHS- DVDR of it again yesterday and it is reasonably sharp (given the source) and frankly colors are stronger than the Beaver bootleg review. (But of course the transfer is P&S with only the opening and closing credits framed 1.85. And it's the short version, running 115 minutes PAL.)

This does NOT sound good.

RE ZP and my two missing "F-U-C-K-"s - Also watched this again and they are there. I had to turn the sound up to hear Daria mutter it, and memory mis-serving me again, she writes the words "Fuck Off" in the sand while Mark is still flying over her, BEFORE he lands, not at his departure. SO much for honky conspiracy theory. The last shot does worry me a little though. The cut from Daria driving off to the credits is very jagged and is a still shot. It certainly looks like Antonioni might have had something else there, although the ending as it stands is perfectly dramatically balanced.

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Lino
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#69 Post by Lino » Sun Dec 04, 2005 6:56 am

davidhare wrote:The last shot does worry me a little though. The cut from Daria driving off to the credits is very jagged and is a still shot. It certainly looks like Antonioni might have had something else there
As I understand, Antonioni didn't want it to end it that way. It was probably some hack decision over at MGM at the time that changed it at the last minute and stupidly added that Roy Orbison song that feels VERY out of context with the whole movie.

Antonioni was reported as being very furious at that kind of meddling with his picture but for some reason or another he couldn't do anything about it. It would be great if the upcoming Warner DVD changed that and gave us the option to choose between the director's cut and the original theatrical release versions.

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#70 Post by david hare » Sun Dec 04, 2005 5:36 pm

I think it still works dramatically. And the question remains - what was his ending?

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Barmy
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#71 Post by Barmy » Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:15 pm

Wish we could take this back to the ZP thread, but anyway, the new print of ZP I recently saw does not, thank God, have that cheesy Orbison tune at the end. Rather, the Pink Floyd music comes back, which doesn't really work for me either. Frankly, dead silence might have been best.

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Lino
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#72 Post by Lino » Tue Dec 06, 2005 4:26 am

Barmy wrote:the new print of ZP I recently saw does not, thank God, have that cheesy Orbison tune at the end. Rather, the Pink Floyd music comes back
That was I believe, Antonioni's intention all along. There's hope that this makes it to DVD.

Cinesimilitude
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#73 Post by Cinesimilitude » Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:24 pm

Sony now has a trailer out for it. links on this page...

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dx23
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#74 Post by dx23 » Mon Jan 02, 2006 11:36 am

Info about the upcoming dvd release here

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Dylan
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#75 Post by Dylan » Wed Apr 26, 2006 5:15 pm

Image

Picked up the new "Passenger" DVD yesterday and I watched it for the first time last night. Even though it hasn't really left my mind, I haven't even begun to absorb it yet. It's a fascinating film, oblique in the best Antonioni fashion, and Jack Nicholson is at the height of his power. But that magnificent ending is absolutely one of the great shots in any movie ever. It forced me immediately to re-evaulate everything I had just watched, and my impression is still spinning. I do want to give it another viewing before I commit to any solid reading of the piece, as watching it a second time will likely be a richer experience, but I was wondering what other members here think of this film. Many on here, such as ellipses, have seen it more than once and I would love to read some impressions, interpretations, and thoughts.

Dylan

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