PROFESSIONE: Reporter - Film (Movie) Plot and Review





(The Passenger)


Italy-France-Spain, 1975


Director: Michelangelo Antonioni

Production: Compagnia Cinematografica Champion (Rome), Les Films Concordia (Paris), and C.I.P.I. Cinematografica (Madrid); Metrocolor, 35mm; running time: 126 minutes. Released March 1975, Italy. Filmed on location in England, Spain, and Germany.


Producer: Carlo Ponti; screenplay: Mark Peploe, Peter Wollen and Michelangelo Antonioni, from an original idea by Mark Peploe;

Professione: Reporter
Professione: Reporter
photography: Luciano Tovoli; editors: Franco Arcalli and Michelangelo Antonioni; sound: Cyril Collik; sound editors: Sandro Peticca and Franca Silvi; sound mixer: Franco Ancillai; production designer: Osvaldo Desideri; art director: Piero Poletto; costume designer: Louise St. Jensward.

Cast: Jack Nicholson ( Locke ); Maria Schneider ( The Girl ); Jenny Runacre ( Rachel ); Ian Hendry ( Knight ); Stephen Berkoff ( Stephen ); Ambroise Bea ( Achebe ); Jose Maria Cafarel ( Hotel manager ); James Campbell ( Stregone ); Manfred Spies ( Tedesco ); Jean Baptiste Tiemele ( The African ); Chuch McVehill or Mulvehill ( Robertson ); Angel del Pozo ( Police inspector ); Narcisse Pula ( African's accomplice ).


Publications


Script:

Antonioni, Michelangelo, Mark Peploe, and Peter Wollen, Professione: Reporter , Bologna and New York 1975.

Books:

Rifkin, Ned, Antonioni's Visual Language , Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1982.

Downing, David, Jack Nicholson: A Biography , London, 1983.

Barthes, Roland, and others, Michelangelo Antonioni , Munich, 1984.

Biarese, Cesare, and Aldo Tassone, I film di Michelangelo Antonioni , Rome, 1985.

Dervin, Daniel, Through a Freudian Lens Deeply: A Psychoanalysis of Cinema , Hillsdale, New Jersey, 1985.

Antonioni, Michelangelo, That Bowling Alley on the Tiber: Tales of a Director , Oxford and New York, 1986.

Perry, Ted, and Rene Prieto, Michelangelo Antonioni: A Guide to References and Resources , Boston, 1986.

Johnson, Charles W., Philosophy in Literature , San Francisco, 1992.

Arrowsmith, William, Antonioni: The Poet of Images , New York, 1995.

Chatman, Seymour B., Antonioni, or, the Surface of the World , Berkeley, 1996.

Brunette, Peter, The Films of Michelangelo Antonioni , New York, 1998.

Tomasulo, Michelangelo Antonioni , Old Tappan, 1998.

Wenders, Wim, My Time with Antonioni , New York, 2000.

Articles:

Filmcritica (Rome), March 1975.

Plumb, C., in Take One (Montreal), May 1975.

Reilly, C. P., in Films in Review (New York), May 1975.

Atwell, L., in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Summer 1975.

Cowie, Peter, in Focus on Film (London), Summer 1975.

Roud, Richard, in Sight and Sound (London) Summer 1975.

Rosebaum, Jonathan, in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), June 1975.

Demby, B. J., "Michelangelo Antonioni Discusses The Passenger ," in Filmmakers Newsletter (Ward Hill, Massachusetts), July 1975.

Epstein, R., "Antonioni Speaks . . . and Listens," in Film Comment (New York), July-August 1975.

Perry, T., "Men and Landscapes: Antonioni's The Passenger ," in Film Comment (New York), July-August 1975.

Gow, Gordon, in Films and Filming (London), August 1975.

Giroux, H. A., in Cineaste (New York), Fall 1975.

Gliserman, M., " The Passenger: An Individual in History," in Jump Cut (Chicago), August-September 1975.

Offroy, D., in Cinématographe (Paris), August-September 1975.

Walsh, M., " The Passenger: Antonioni's Narrative Design," in Jump Cut (Chicago), August-September 1975.

Benoit, C., in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), September-October 1975.

" Profession: Reporter: Un Film de Michelangelo Antonioni," in Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), October 1975.

Stewart, G., "Exhumed Identity: Antonioni's Passenger to Nowhere," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1975–76.

Tuominen, T., "Fuuga Antonionin tapaan, Michaelangelo Antonioni: Ammatti: Reportteri ," in Filmihullu (Helsinki), no. 1, 1976.

Bonitzer, P., "Désir désert ( Profession reporter )," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), January 1976.

Bachmann, Gideon, "Maria Schneider: 'ik houd niet echt van acteren'," in Skoop (Wagenengen), March 1976.

Bojtar, E., "A riportut vege: Antonioni: Figlalkozasa: Riporter ," in Filmcultura (Budapest), July-August 1976.

Dick, P., " The Passenger and Literary Existentialism," in Literature/ Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), Winter 1977.

Colombo, Furio, "Visual Structures in a Film by Antonioni," in Quarterly Review of Film Studies (New York), November 1977.

MacLean, R., " The Passenger and Reporting: Photographic Memory," in Film Reader (Evanston, Illinois), no. 3, 1978.

Price, T., "Film Maudit: The Political and Religious Meaning of Antonioni's The Passenger ," in Cinemonkey (Portland, Oregan), vol. 5, no. 2, 1979.

Lockhart, Kimball, "Empêchement visuel et point de fuite dans L'avventura et Profession: Reporter ," in Camera/Stylo (Paris), November 1982.

Tovoli, L., "Tecnicamente dolce il mio incontro con Antonioni," in Cinema Nuovo (Rome), November-December 1989.

Turner, J., " The Passenger , Lacan, and the Real," in Post Script (Commerce, Texas), no. 1–2, 1989–90.

Eldh, M., "Roman son filmkritik," in Chaplin (Stockholm), vol. 33, no. 4, 1991.

Tomasulo, F. P., "The Architectonics of Alienation: Antonioni's Edifice Complex," in Wide Angle (Baltimore), no. 3, 1993.

Atkinson, M., "Jack Nicholson in The Passenger ," in Movieline (Escondido), vol. 8, July 1997.

Pellizzari, L., "Sbarre," in Cineforum (Bergamo), vol. 37, no. 366, July/August 1997.


* * *


After the general confusion prompted by Zabriskie Point , Michelangelo Antonioni's previous feature, Professione: Reporter (distributed in the United States as The Passenger ) met with critical and popular acclaim. This success may have been due as much to the cast as to either a new "transparency" in Antonioni's direction or a suddenly acquired sophistication of the filmgoer. Though Professione: Reporter , like Zabriskie Point and for that matter any of Antonioni's previous films, de-emphasizes classic cinematic narrative in favor of the presentation of an essentially static/dramatic situation through experimentation with expressive elements specific to film—thereby remaining what the general public would see as a "difficult" film: "nothing happens" with which one can "identify"— Professione: Reporter' s stars, Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider, were two of 1975's biggest box-office draws. Their appearance guaranteed the film a degree of financial success (necessary after Zabriskie Point ), but also introduced a marked artificiality into the fabric of the film's fiction—Jack Nicholson virtually plays himself, all the more emphasized by the implausible turning point of the film's plot: the Nicholson character gives up his own identity to assume the identity of a man who happens to die and happens to resemble him. The presumption that such an arbitrary exchange of identities might be either workable or desirable seems to comment on the nature of acting; and later in the film when Maria Schneider finds a gun in Nicholson's luggage, he takes it away from her with an ironic monotone "no" which cannot fail to recall, intertextually, yet another gun, the one Schneider used to kill an even bigger box-office draw, Marlon Brando, in the film that made her famous and which is no doubt responsible for her appearance in this film, namely, Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972).

But the real interest in Professione: Reporter lies in its groundbreaking technique, one that explicitly works in opposition to the film's narrative continuity and impression of reality, effects that both mainstream critics and the general public expect of any feature film. The most discussed technical innovation concerns the film's next-to-the-last seven minute-long continuous traveling shot which moves foward into the frame at an almost imperceptible rate and which impossibly passes through the narrow iron bars of a window and into a courtyard only to come back to the same window to look through the same bars to view the same Nicholson the shot first framed but which upon return finds him dead. This shot is emblematic of a radical strategy Antonioni has since pursued in an even more global fashion in Il mistero di Oberwald (1979) and Identificazione di una donna (1982), whereby elements taken to belong exclusively to filmic technique, elements such as camera movement, framing, point of view, sound, and image tone, which are normally considered to be neutral vehicles for the transparent expression of a narrative—find themselves emphatically motivated, bearing the principal burden of signification in the face of an increasingly banal "story." Such is the case in Professione: Reporter. Preparing the ground for these later films, and perpetuating a research Antonioni has engaged since the films of the early 1950s, the innovative technique of Professione: Reporter proposes nothing short of the fictionalization of technique itself.

—Kimball Lockhart

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