Saturday 31 March 2018

On Blu-ray - David Hare welcomes a new edition of Michelangelo Antonioni's THE PASSENGER (1975)

First two screens (left and below right, click to enlarge) show Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider in situ of a seemingly lunar landscape, in fact the rooftop of the Casa Mila ("la Pedrera") in Barcelona. 

The last two screens (below) are the beginning and the end of Antonioni's devastating seven minute take which ends his last American film, produced by Carlo Ponti, The Passenger(1975). 

The beautiful new 35mm source provided to Indicator (UK) label from Sony looks like near pristine Metro/Eastmancolor, and the 1080p grading and encode for the new Blu-ray is flawless. One could only hope to see this turn up one day in 4K/HDR. The near to final shot seems to be suggesting a parallel dimension in which life itself disappears or is replaced by an alternate life, while an apparently indifferent universe simply fills the void around pointless human endeavor. This and the final montage of unpopulated streetscapes in L'Eclisse are Antonioni's most radical and formally arresting excursions into pure science fiction. Only Resnais and Marker come close to matching this thematic preoccupation with the abstract as reality with so much sheer sensual beauty. 
MA was a giant, his like will never be seen again. For one alternately branded by detractors over the years as "modish" or even "shallow" his films today resonate into an infinite future in which, if the human race survives viewers will continue to be seduced by his gaze and his impeccable sense for image. 
The disc comes recommended without reservation, noting only in passing several truckloads of extras down to no less than three audio commentaries, including the 2010 track recorded by Nicholson for Sony's DVD release that year, another by writer Mark Peploe and another brand new commentary by Oz expat critic Adrian Martin.

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