The last event in the season Laura Mulvey & Peter Wollen: Beyond the Scorched Earth of Counter-Cinema is a rare 35mm screening of Michelangelo Antonioni’s enigmatic 1975 masterpiece, The Passenger, starring Jack Nicholson.
With a special introduction by the acclaimed screenwriter and film director Mark Peploe.
In the early 1970s, Peter Wollen, together with Mark Peploe, wrote the screenplay for The Passenger. Michelangelo Antonioni made the film in 1975. 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 film is an exploration of contingency and doubling; its seven-minute long penultimate shot is still astonishing, as it moves across a darkened hotel room through the barred window into the dusty open space outside.
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.’
Michelangelo Antonioni, The Passenger, 1975, 121 minutes.
Screenplay by Michelangelo Antonioni, Mark Peploe and Peter Wollen
Mark Peploe is an acclaimed screenwriter and film director. He began writing screenplays in 1969 and has collaborated amongst others with Jacques Demy, René Clément, Michelangelo Antonioni and Bernardo Bertolucci. His principal credits include Antonioni’s The Passenger (1974) and The Last Emperor (1987) with Bernardo Bertolucci, for which he won the Golden Globe and an Academy Award.
As a writer-director he made a half hour fiction film Samson and Delilah (1985), nominated for a Bafta, then the feature Afraid of the Dark (1991), a psychological thriller with Fanny Ardant and James Fox. In 1997 he made Victory from the novel by Joseph Conrad with Willem Dafoe and Irène Jacob. With his sister Clare he wrote High Season (1987), Silver Shell at the San Sebastian Festival, and for Bertolucci he adapted The Sheltering Sky (1990) from the Paul Bowles novel, and worked on Little Buddha (1993).
Laura Mulvey & Peter Wollen: Beyond the Scorched Earth of Counter-Cinema
The Whitechapel Gallery presents a season dedicated to groundbreaking film theorists Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen. See the full season of events.