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The Passenger or the search for identity (FW31)

Antonioni’s The Passenger: and the concept of identity

Antonioni’s The Passenger: and the concept of identity. By Yoni Bentovim   

The Passenger (1975) is one of the most important films in Michaelangelo Antonioni’s career, it is the last of three films in a series he directed for MGM studio, which were all shot outside of his native Italy and in the English language.1 Antonioni is a director with a strong sensibility towards philosophical and metaphysical questions and concepts; indeed, The Passenger is loaded with conflicts that explore many issues related to the subject of our concept of identity and therefore raises issues that are still relevant today. As a master of cinema, Antonioni, makes us experience these questions in a non-literary way and makes us re-think our preconceived notions of identity. Antonioni was allowed pretty much free reign in this film to experiment with his ideas (except for the limitation of duration) and so they freely consist of the main elements and conflicts that ‘fuel’ the film.2 In this article I will give a brief outline of Antonioni’s innovative challenge to cinema conventions, relate the various ‘identity’ questions the film raises to concepts advanced by various thinkers, and also relate them to social trends of the modern society that relate to identity and the meaning behind this word.