ANALYSIS OF MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI's THE PASSENGER - PART TWO

Go to Table of Contents of the analysis. Antonioni's films are rife with themes, peculiarities and incongruities which largely go unnoticed due his deft care in handling them and the abundant and rich audio and visual textures in which he immerses us, but they are also responsible for the sense of mystery that defies a traditional expectation of resolutions, infusing Antonioni's films with enigmatic mythic purpose. And myth is never hampered by logic. My analyses explore patterns of use of these elements with the purpose of nudging to the fore secondary plot structures and hints at meaning that may stand in opposition to the seeming lay of the land.


A KIND OF DETACHMENT

88 LS of a busy news room at a newspaper.

NEWS ROOM LIBRARY (on the phone): Library. David Locke? Yep. Okay.

He hangs up and goes to the stacks.

89 CU of his hands sorting through envelopes. He pulls out one labeled LOCKE, DAVID, JOURNALIST - TV REPORTER. He opens it to look briefly through some clippings and at a photo.

90 CU of television screen, 4 men seated about a table.


INTERVIEWER: Martin, I think you probably knew David better than any of us here.

Cut to a Martin on the program.

INTERVIEWER (off screen): In fact, I think he was in Africa making a television film for you.

91 LS of the televison in a nicely decorated living room in England, it resting partly before a double window, one panel of which is open. We see, reflected in the right window, the pink curtain of an opposing window.

MARTIN: That's right, yes. But I feel I must begin by saying how terribly upset I was by the news of his death. It was so unexpected. He was still very young.

We see, outside, on the lawn, a boy in a blue shirt followed by a woman in a red top, which presumably would be David's adopted son and perhaps a nanny.

92 MS of David's wife, dressed in blue, standing in the dining room watching the television.

To screen right are the pink blinds we'd seen reflected in an opposite window. To screen left is a reflection of those blinds in a window, and below the reflection are several crystal birds with wings upraised. The birds will take us back to Blowup, when Thomas, at the park, chased after the pigeons, photographing them. One flew off and led the camera over the heads of Jane and the man who would be murdered. One had the feeling of the bird guiding Thomas in that direction.

Jane, truth be told, doesn't look particularly grief stricken, and there's a reason for that.

INTERVIEWER (off screen): If you were asked to sum up what it was that made David such a good journalist, what would you say?

MARTIN (off screen): First, I suppose it was his background. Being British but educated in America gave him a different perspective. A kind of detachment. And then he had this great talent for observation.


93 MS of two men painting a white line between concrete that appears to still be wet.

The camera follows a perpendicular line to a distant wall beside white a woman in a yellow shirt plays with a small child in red on a large plaza between two banks of ulra-modern apartments. David, dressed in a brown suit, wearing a moustache now, enters from screen right. He goes to a stairway, banked with a red rail, which will take him back down screen right.

94 LS of David descending the long stairway. The camera pans down with him past several people seated on the steps.

95 LS of David at the bottom of the steps, viewed from beyond The Girl (Maria Schneider).


Dressed in a sage green top and white pants she sits to left screen reading a book. David, for some reason, has stopped on the plaza and stares directly at her.

The Girl, in turn, pauses in her reading and looks up at him, then back down at her book. David shakes his head, as if he has recognized her but can't recollect from where, and walks off screen right. As he leaves, The Girl places down her book and leans back on her bench, arms outstretched, contemplating something, then closes her eyes.

96 MS of David entering a sidewalk. A sign reads LANDSDOWNE CRESCENT.

A suited man with a sky blue briefcase passes by him. David turns and walks away from the camera down the walk. David will turn out to have lived here, on Notting Hill, so why we see him first at Brunswick Center is unknown, though it was radical architecture for the 70s. The Girl later says she studies architecture, so one rationalizes Brunswick Center's appearance in the film due its ultra-modern architecture for the time. But that doesn't explain David's presence. Hunter Street is one of the roads on which Brunswick Center is located and this could be a reason for its choice, fitting in with the hotel at which David was staying in Africa showing on its wall the scene of a hunt, and David is hunted through most of the film.

97 MS of a woman crossing a street near St. John's, which is here under reconstruction.

The camera pans left and David appears from behind a tree that is located near a light blue car.

98 CU of David behind the tree.

This returns us to Blowup and the dead man partly hidden behind the tree in the park. Here David Locke is dead but has returned to his home, wearing a moustache, as if that would be a sufficient disguise.

99 MS David crosses the street toward his home.

100 LS David climbs the stairs to his home.


David rings the bell. A woman exits from a neighboring home, dressed in blue, carrying a red waste-basket. He hides. Then he unlocks the front door and enters.

We are assuming David has gone to his home at a time he is certain it would be empty, such as perhaps during a memorial for him. But he has rung the bell. What if someone he knew had answered the door. What if his son had been there? One could posit, well, he must have called first. We don't know, and Antonioni leaves the question open for us as to whether or not David had intended to keep his new identity a secret, or whether he might have told his wife had she been at home.

101 LS down the foyer of David entering.

102 Shot of the living room, from near the same perspective as we had observed when his wife was in the dining room watching the television program on his death.


The left window is still open. A box of pink flowers rests on the coffee table. David enters and glances about.

103 CU of telegrams beside a phone.

Presumably the telegrams would concern his death. The camera pans over to show David mounting the steps to the second floor.

104 MS of David entering a bedroom. He stops to read a note on the door.

105 CU of David beyond the note, reading.


Not unaffected by what he's read, he steps over to the bed. Picking up a paper, he briefly glances at an article then drops it back on the bed.

106 CU of David's obituary.

It has two pinkish red slash marks outlining it above. If we return to the shot of the dining room, it is much the same pink as the blinds we had observed in the same shot of the crystal birds with wings upraised. Here the slashes are angled down if we look at them as originating from a common center.

The obituary informs us of his being posted to the Congo and that his reporting on events during the Congo Crisis, in Katanga, won him the Delaney award. It was during the crisis that Patrice Lumumba was executed, and we had seen the book concerning Lumumba back at his hotel room in Africa, under the photo of his wife. So it has been 12 years since that time and David is still deeply concerned with it.

The obituary further reveals he was married to Rachel Hamilton and is survived by her and an adopted son, Luke.

It repeats what Martin had said about David being markedly detached and thus able to objectively research. "His uncompromising search for the facts was combined with a philosophical detachment, and resulted in a consistently penetrating analysis of political tends."

Was he so detached that he was able to abandon his wife and son so abruptly? Or had he planned to inform her he was still alive?

107 David looks out the window.

He then exits the bedroom and we see now what was written in the note.

Where were you today? Tomorrow afternoon at Ossington Street? Love U, Stephen.

The implication is that his wife has been having an affair. Perhaps David has only become aware of it just now, and this decides his actions. That he will not tell her he is still alive. David Locke is best left for dead.

If his wife's lover had not known where she was, it's likely she was not at a memorial for David, for he would certainly have been aware of that. Which is another reason I do wonder if, when David rang the doorbell, he expected his wife just might answer.

108 David's office.

David takes a strong box from a file and sets it atop, pushing back a book with a zebra print cover, Which Tribe Do You Belong to? by Alberto Moravia.

We have a couple of times had it pointed out to us David's detachment. Wikipedia states of Moravia (born Pincherle, so a dual identity with his pen name), "His writing was marked by its factual, cold, precise style..." Which Tribe Do You Belong To? was a travel diary of his time in Africa.

David removes from the box what looks like bonds, traveller's checks (?) and a package of money. Funds for what was perhaps initially considered to be a short term investigation, now a new life.

109 LS David leaving the residence.

110 MS of David in the street, before the tree we had initially viewed him hiding behind.


He takes something out of his pocket. Robertson's passenger ticket book.

111 CU of the ticket book.

It reads, in part:

Mr. D. ROBERTS...
09 Aug 74
Douala
Fort-Lamy
Parigi
London
Munich

He closes it and we again see the box number, 58.

112 MS of a green neon sign showing a car, a key and MIETWAGEN, CAR RENTAL.

We hear German. We are in Munich at the airport. The camera pans down to show a woman in a multi-colored jacket rushing forward to warmly hug man who stoops and picks up a little girl to hug her as well. Antonioni is reminding us that David has left behind not only a wife but a son. His family. The camera pans right following the three as they walk right and settles on David who's standing at a car rental desk speaking with a car rental woman who is dressed in red.

CAR RENTAL WOMAN: Going on a holiday?

DAVID: Sort of.

CAR RENTAL WOMAN: Where do you want to leave the car?

DAVID: I don't know.

CAR RENTAL WOMAN: Where are you going?

DAVID: I haven't made up my mind.

CAR RENTAL WOMAN: Here's a list of our offices. Have a look at it.


David leafs through the booklet then looks at a sign.

113 MCU the sign, the last location on its list being Yugoslavia.

DAVID: Yugoslavia. I'll go to Yugoslavia.

CAR RENTAL WOMAN: Dubrovnik?

DAVID: Yes. Dubrovnik. That's nice.

CAR RENTAL WOMAN: How long for?

DAVID: For the rest of my life.

CAR RENTAL WOMAN: Why don't you buy a new car? Thank you.


The woman wears on her dress a button that reads "We try harder".

114 MS of David, another customer now standing beside him, a dark woman. He takes from the woman paper materials.

DAVID: Thank you.

CAR RENTAL WOMAN: Thank you.


He walks to screen right, the camera briefly following and stopping on two men sitting back to back to each other in the orange seats of the waiting area. Do they recognize him? They watch, attentive to him, as he approaches the baggage locker area. One man is white, the other black. The white man stands.

115 MS David entering the baggage area under its neon green sign showing a suitcase and a key.

So many keys. Perhaps to do with his having been David Locke. Though now he is David Robertson.

116 locker looks empty to us. All we see his black. He reaches his arm deep inside and extracts a slim black zip bag. Opening it, he removes a paperclipped sheaf of papers.

117 MCU from below of David glancing through the papers.

118 MCU from the side of the papers showing xeroxes of guns.

119 CU of David before locker 58.


He walks away from the locker and we see beyond the woman who had been at the car rental desk, she leaving. We see also the white man waiting for him. He moves and stands beside the black man as David stops, sets down his suitcase, and returns his papers to their bag.

120 MS of David climbing in his car outside the airport, a plane taking off behind him. We also see a pink plane, which reminds of the pink plane Mark had stolen and flown out of LA when fleeing with no clear direction seemingly in mind.

The car's license is M-ME 1180. He starts the BMW and takes a right out of the parking lot, leaving the airport.

Jack Nicholson says in commentary that the private pink plane had nothing to do with Antonioni and that he even tried putting off filming so as not to have it in the background, but they couldn't wait forever. Still, I wonder. Pure synchronicity? Could be. If so, it's remarkable, considering Mark had fled in a private pink plane in Zabriskie Point.

121 LS from within the car of a white carriage drawn by two white horses.

David turns right, following the carriage, which is decorated with flowers. A wedding carriage. The carriage then turns left, which David does as well. We briefly view a young woman in a green top walking down the street.

Is this The Girl? There is always the question.

Do I think this is The Girl? No. I do think she is intended to appear to look like her, just as David Locke sort of, kind of looked like David Robertson. She's intended to look enough like her that we wonder about it. Her doppleganger couples with the wedding carriage as a kind of guide, leading him to the church where the wedding is taking place. David, following his picking up the bag in locker 58, had no idea what to do next until his date in Barcelona; he is driving a random course right now. But, as David has said, one operates by old habits, so perhaps there is a reason he follows the wedding carriage which takes him to the church to where Achebe and his associate follow him.

122 MS of the side of the carriage.

123 MS of David entering the yard of the church, a black cross planted firmly in the foreground.

We hear the hooves of the horses in the background.

124 MS of gravestones.

The camera pans over these to an old man tending flowers before a gravestone directly outside the door of the church, the frame now incorporating David at the right, in front of the door. He stops and looks at the man then enters the church. Death and marriage side-by-side. This presages the ending where we have The Girl appearing as Mrs. Robertson at the hotel where he is killed.

125 LS of David in the interior of the church.

The camera tracks right through the congregation, following David, who stands square in the rear center of the aisle.

126 LS of David at the rear of the church, from before the marrying couple and the flower children.

David stands "dead" center of the scene. It can be interpreted as referring to his old, now dead marriage. But I do believe we have here a reference to The Girl as his wife. It can be both a reference to his dead marriage and his new one as David Robertson rather than David Locke.

Look at that. David prominently positioned between the couple.

127 MCU David from his right. He turns and retires to the rear of the church behind a gate and the marriage finishes.

Everyone stands as the couple goes to the gate to stand and greet all the celebrants, David standing also at the gate.

128 MS David at his London house, in the back yard, gleefully overseeing a blazing fire before the back fence.

NEIGHBOR (calling over the fence): Mr. Locke!

129 LS of David laughing over the fire, the male neighbor observed beyond the brick fence separating their yards. The camera pans up to a woman watching from a window, seemingly the neighbor's wife.

RACHEL (off screen): David! David!

130 LS from beyond the fence, fire and David of Rachel running, in her slip, onto their patio.

RACHEL: What the hell do you think you're doing? Are you crazy?

DAVID: Yes!


His wife returns inside.

DAVID: Rachel! Where are you going?!

131 MS from behind Rachel of her looking out the upstairs window onto the back yard, recollecting the scene.

The camera zooms in on her as we hear the flames fade. The camera pans down to show where the fire was. The yard is once again green but the burned wood rests outside the fence.

The death of their marriage.

132 MCU of David's shoes standing amongst the white carnations littered about the floor of the church.

He takes a seat in one of the pews. We hear footsteps.

VOICE: Mr. Robertson? Mr. Robertson

Slowly, stiffly, he turns, hesitantly occupying the role of Mr. Robertson.

133 MCU of the black man and the white man we'd observed at the airport, they having followed him.

WHITE MAN: Did something go wrong at the airport? We were expecting you to contact us, sir.

134 MCU David in the pew.

DAVID (standing): Yes, uhm, I'm afraid there was a slight muddle.

135 The two men.

WHITE MAN: Is it all right for us to talk now, then?

They advance forward, the camera panning right to incorporate David.

DAVID: Talk? I suppose so. Yes.

WHITE MAN (introducing the black man): This is Mr. Achebe.

ACHEBE (extending his hand to shake David's): Enchante. We are very grateful for your help, Mr. Robertson.


136 MS of David from behind the pair.

ACHEBE: You have taken enormous risks for our sake.

WHITE MAN: Did you manage to get everything we wanted? Have you got the papers?

DAVID (hesitantly, uncertainly, but finally responding to the realization that he does have the papers): The papers? Oh, yes. (He hands them over to the white man.) You better take a look at them and let me know what you think.


After glancing at them, the white man hands them to Achebe.

137 MS of Achebe seating himself in a pew to examine the papers.

138 MS of David from behind Achebe.


Achebe: Yes.

139 MS of Achebe.

ACHEBE: Oh, excellent. Excellent. You got the FN rifles as well, excellent. A pity about the anti-aircraft guns. Yes. Well, that's very good. (Handing the papers back to the white man.)

DAVID (off screen): Glad it's all there. Sorry about the anti-aircraft guns. I hope it won't be too much of a...drawback.

ACHEBE: Oh, no. Their planes aren't very effective at the moment.


140 CU of David.

ACHEBE (off screen): We evade them easily enough. Our main problem is the military assistance the government is getting from Europe.

DAVID: Yes, well, it's not surprising.


141 MS of the white man taking out an envelope and holding it out to David.

WHITE MAN: Here's the first installment, Mr. Robertson.

142 MS of David from behind the white man.

He hesitantly takes the envelope.

WHITE MAN: Don't you want to check it?

DAVID: No. I'm sure it's all right.

WHITE MAN: The second installment will be paid as agreed in Geneva. You know the number. And our next meeting will be in (checking his book) in Barcelona. The arrangements for that remain unchanged.


He exits from the frame, Achebe stepping forward.

143 MCU of Achebe and David.

ACHEBE: I have heard a lot about you, Mr. Robertson. I realize that you are not like the others, that you believe in our fight.

144 MS of David from behind Achebe.

ACHEBE: This will be of great assistance to our people. Of course, you realize the present government has agents...

145 as shot 143.

ACHEBE: ...who may try to interfere with you. In that case, I hope you will try to get in touch with us.

146 as shot 144.

ACHEBE: We will help in any way we can.

DAVID: Thank you.


A bell rings outside.

ACHEBE: Give my regards to Daisy.

DAVID: To whom?

ACHEBE: To Daisy.


David uncomfortably smiles and nods, not knowing what in the world Achebe is talking about.

147 MS of sculptures in the church. Pan down.

ACHEBE (off screen): Goodbye.

DAVID (off screen): Goodbye. Bye. Thank you.


We hear footsteps as the pair leave, the camera panning down to David.

148 MS from the rear of the church of the men walking toward the camera, exiting. The camera holds on David standing toward the front of the church.

149 MS of David picking up the envelope which he'd set down.


The Stations of the Cross behind him, he looks at the money that was in the envelope, apparently a significant amount.

DAVID: Jesus Christ. (He glances about the empty church.) Sorry.

150 MS of David leaning over a pew and retrieving his jacket, which he'd removed. He places the envelope in a pocket and exits the rear of the church. As he places his hand on the door...

151 sound of a knock on a door while we have a MS of a blond man in a film editing studio.


The camera pans right and the door opens, Rachel entering.

MARTIN (off screen): Yes, in the lab, 4:00. All right, thank you very much. (Entering from screen right.) Rachel!

RACHEL: Is it all right, me coming in like this?

MARTIN: Well, of course, it is.

RACHEL: May I watch?

MARTIN: Please, do. Yes, come on, sit over here. (Directing her.) Use the other stool. All right?

RACHEL (having taken a seat): Suppose so.


The lights are turned off, a film runs on a screen. We observe the President who had been in the picture of the lobby of the Saharan hotel. We hear David's voice.

DAVID (off screen): Mr. President. Could you comment on the recent arrest of foreign nationals?

THE PRESIDENT: This matter is in the hands of the courts. It is up to the law to make its comment.

DAVID (off screen): Does the United Liberation Front still control the northern provinces? In other words, are the guerillas still fighting?


The film of the president has cut to show a bracelet he wears, supposedly for its expense. Pans back up to the President's face.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps. For once the official terminology correspond with the actual facts. And the facts are these, these is no longer a problem. Intellectuals and journalist like to make publicity out of it.

152 from behind the monitor, Martin and Rachel watching.

THE PRESIDENT (off screen): To give it some kind of political substance.

MARTIN: That's enough of that.


Martin cuts off the film. We have a temporarily blank screen. He cuts on the light.

MARTIN (friendly, smiling): You've seen a good many of David's interviews. (To the assistant, off screen.) All right, thanks. Go to lunch now. (Sounds of footsteps exiting.) So, I'm glad you dropped by. What do you think of my idea?

RACHEL: A portrait of David?

MARTIN: Yeah.


153 MCU of Rachel, film strips hanging on the wall behind.

RACHEL: Why do you want to do it?

MARTIN (off screen): A way to remember him.

RACHEL (cool): Yes?

MARTIN (off screen): Besides, I think it might help in pulling this material together.


154 CU Martin from his right.

MARTIN: You don't seem very enthusiastic.

No, she doesn't. In fact, Rachel seems pretty cool about David's death and the film and just about everything concerning David.

The camera pans over to Rachel.

RACHEL (uncomfortable now): Oh, it's not that. It's just that, you know, reporters, interviews, David really wasn't so different.

155 MS the President, David, Rachel and others in a flashback.

RACHEL (voice over): I was there, you know, that interview. I went to see him, but only stayed for one day.

David works with a cameraman beside a table behind which the president stands. Rachel watches from beyond, scrutinizing the scene.

RACHEL (voice over): But he accepted too much. We hadn't been very close the last couple of years. I don't know why I'm talking like this.

156 MCU Rachel.

RACHEL: I'm sorry.

157 MCU Martin.

RACHEL: I hope you make your film.

158 MCU Rachel.

159 MCU Martin.


MARTIN: Do you love him?

160 MCU Rachel back in the president's compound or garden.

RACHEL (voice over): Yes, I think so. Just didn't make each other very happy.

The camera pans over to David conducting his interview with the president.

PRESIDENT: There is no fighting anymore. The situation is practically normal. All that remain is a couple of hundred gangs in the hands of some common bandits.

DAVID (off screen): Will the opposition party be allowed to nominate candidates at the next election?

PRESIDENT: There is no opposition. We are a unified nation.


The camera has panned about 360 degrees from Rachel, to the interview, to the presidential house with servants and guards standing in front, and back to Rachel entering the scene again.

161 CU the president.

DAVID: Do you think...

PRESIDENT: I think this country is on the road to a great future.


162 LS the Land Rover leaving the compound, followed by another, still in flashback. David's Land Rover turns screen left and the other begins to turn screen right and honks to David, who stops.

2nd LAND ROVER: David!

DAVID: Yeah!

2nd LAND ROVER: Half an hour!

DAVID: Okay, see you later!


163 MS from behind David driving the Land Rover. He's viewed in the rear view mirror.

DAVID: You didn't like that, did you?

RACHEL: No.


The camera pans to involve Rachel.

RACHEL: You involve yourself in real situations, but you've got no real dialogue.

164 MCU Rachel from the front.

RACHEL: Why didn't you tell that man that he's a...

The camera pans right to David.

DAVID: A liar?

RACHEL: Yes.

DAVID: I know. But those are the rules.

RACHEL: I don't like to see you keep them.

DAVID: Then why did you come?


165 A bearded black man in a restaurant interior setting, reading a newspaper, diners viewed on a patio through a window beyond. One of the diners, a white man in a plaid jacket and an orange shirt, turns to look at him.

166 MCU the white man in the orange shirt nodding his head yes.

167 LS Achebe and the white man who had met with David in Munich are seated at a red draped patio table looking over papers.

168 Street view of a car pulling up and four black men exiting. They enter a building and head toward the patio.

169 Viewed through a fountain, the patio on which Achebe and the white man are dining, the four black men entering beyond.


They grab Achebe and wrestle him out but leave the white man. We hear nothing but the water of the fountain, which returns us to the water and air (fan) providing so much background noise at the hotel when David discovered Robertson's body.

Antonioni obscures the action with both the visual and sound of the water.

170 MS of the man in the plaid jacket and orange shirt in a room with a sloped roof that might vaguely remind of the sloped sunroom roofs at Brunswick.

The camera pans right to show, in a neighboring room, through the broken glass of a door, Achebe being questioned by orange shirt's black partner.

171 Slightly closer view of scene.

Achebe is let out through the door to the sun room. The man in the orange shirt karate kicks him in the stomach, dropping him to the ground.

172 MCU David from his right in a restaurant. He's seated at a table at which are two green bottles and two glasses half-filled with a red drink. He takes out Robertson's calendar and examines it.

173 CU the calendar for Sept. 10 to 15th 1973.

He pages back to Sept. 3rd through the 8th.

The camera zooms in on the Barcelona date.

174 MS of David from his left. He rises from his table and leaves it, another man entering and setting down a valise at a table opposite.

175 MS David on the phone, viewed from beyond a bar filled with beers.


DAVID: Yes, hello, Avis? This is Mr. Robertson. Oh, yes, hello. How are you?

176 MCU David from his right, standing at the phone.

DAVID: Yes, but I'm not going to Dubrovnik. No. No, I'm going to Barcelona. (He takes off his fake mustache.) That's right. For the rest of my life. Same to you. Thank you. Goodbye.

Hanging up, he turns and plasters the fake mustache on the globe of a lamp behind him.

Previous to this, we had imagined that David was taking up Robertson's life in order to break through the barrier which had kept him from the guerillas. Though, at the airport, he had said his destination was Dubrovnik, this didn't seem to cancel out his pursuing the other appointments, we perhaps thinking he just didn't have any idea to give for an ultimate, end destination. Now, however, it seems that whether or not he was going to pursue Robertson's itinerary had been decided before now. As he made successful contact in Munich, he has decided to go with it, and rids himself of the mustache.

177 MS David, now in different clothing, a short-sleeved shirt, running screen left to screen right before a red wall.

DAVID: Hey! Por favor!

He's in Spain. He climbs into a cable car that will carry him over the harbor to Barcelona.

178 MCU David looking out the cable car.

CABLE CAR OPERATOR: Es bonita. Is beautiful.

David turns to face him, smiling.

179 MS from the exterior of the car, David speaking with the cable car operator. We don't hear their discussion, but David makes a gesture to indicate flying, as does the cable car operator.

180 MS from within the cable car of David leaning out a window and raising his arms in a flying gesture, reminding of the crystal birds back at his home.

181 MS from above David of his arms outstretched, "flying".

182 LS of the ceiling of the Umraculo at the Parc de la Ciutadella where David is scheduled to meet the two contacts.

The camera pans down to show several children playing.

183 MS from David's right of him seated on a bench, waiting, an old man with a cane walking down a path sliced with verticals of shadow and light. David has turned so he leans over the back of the bench, playing with foliage behind him. He turns back to face the man.

DAVID: My name is Robertson.

14 MS of David and the old man stopping and leaning down to listen.

DAVID: I've been waiting for someone who hasn't arrived.

MAN IN BERET (points his cane to the children): These. I've seen so many of them grow up. Other people look at the children and they all imagine a new world. (He sits beside Robertson.) But me, when I watch them, I just see the same old tragedy begin all over again. They can't get away from us. Is boring.


Antonioni, in his films, intentionally uses repetitive visual patterns, such as the shadow and light on this path, to represent cycling patterns of things recurring again and again. Though with permutations and differences, the same themes and motifs repeat also in his films in accordance with this. Here, he has the old man in the beret remark on it when David says he's waiting for someone who doesn't appear. One of the ideas David and Robertson had ben talking about was the ability to change, David saying that we become so engrained in habits that change is impossible. With his taking on Robertson's life, he has hoped to break the pattern.

185 MCU the man in the beret beside David.

DAVID: Where did you learn to speak English?

MAN IN BERET: You want me to tell you my life?

DAVID: Yes.

MAN IN BERET: All right.


186 LS of the umbracula.

The arcs of the ceiling should perhaps return us to the arcs in the ceiling in David's room in Africa.

David's asking where the man learned English becomes the story of a life. "One day very far from here..."

187 LS from a movie that David had recorded of an execution. A man in military uniform, on a horse, passes by.

188 MS The crowd. A woman wears a red scarf. Another wears a turquoise one. She is crying.

189 Another crowd shot.

190 The execution platform. Pan left to the beach and a coffin waiting.

191 The man to be executed is being led by the military to the platform.

192 MCU of the coffin.

193 One of the military men speaking over a mic, into a recorder.


OFFICER: ...commissioned officers are charged under M.A....

The voice is a dub.

194 MS the man to be executed, on the platform, held in place by a haphazard tangle of ropes. He speaks to a priest in white.

195 Cut to a slightly closer shot of the priest and the man to be executed. The camera zooms in on his face.

196 The three executioners march into place.

197 Two of the executioners, the man to be killed beyond. We hear the waves of the ocean. They raise their guns. They fire. Three shots.


The camera zooms in on the man being executed, out of focus. His head drops. There are a couple of last shots. He jerks. Blood stains appear on his shirt. His eyes open. We barely see the whites of them. He turns his head, raises his arms. He is shot again.

198 MS of Rachel and Martin watching the film, from behind them, Martin's assistant to the left.

Rachel has turned her head away. She stands to leave.

MARTIN: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you.

RACHEL: I know.

MARTIN: What about David's things? Have they arrived yet?

RACHEL: No. They called to say it'd take about a week at least. Usual muddle.

MARTIN: Yes, I know.

RACHEL: They asked if I knew someone called Robertson. Evidently, he stayed at the same hotel as David did. Can you find him?

MARTIN: Possibly.

RACHEL: I'd like to talk to him.

MARTIN: So would I.


The scriptwriter, speaking about the execution scene on the commentary, said that he had been against its inclusion, becoming even choked up about it. He didn't know who it was being executed (no one seems to) but his take on it was that Antonioni wanted to include something real, of the time, he being concerned socially and politically concerned.

Antonioni rarely shows bloodshed. In Blowup we have the death of a man and when his body is shown there is no blood, no evident gun shot. In Zabriskie Point, we have the killing of the striker and that shows some bloodshed, but there is none with the killing of Mark. Even though the plane should be riddled with bullets, there is not a single bullet-hole on the plane, no blood, and we don't see Mark's face. We will have the same here with David later. No wound. No blood. His face won't be shown. All these deaths feel more mystical, allegorical.

199 Pan down from black to MS from behind of Rachel in the white-painted brick room of a home overlooking the water.

The black is a portion of the ceiling that is painted black, while other sections of the ceiling are white. One may be reminded of Thomas' studio in Blowup, which was all black and white. After the studio was broken into and Thomas' photos of the murder stolen, the last photo remaining or looked over, the one most abstract and difficult to read, was found between a black case and a white case. In this section, David, by way of his current Robertson identity, has been located in Barcelona.

200 MS Rachel from her right walking toward a window.

As she approaches the window, her profile is echoed by a head resting upon the windowsill, and the green of her kimono is echoed in a plate beside it.

STEPHEN (off screen): So, why don't you try to forget all about it?

RACHEL (standing before the window): Yeah, I know it's stupid. I didn't care at all before. Now that he's dead, in some strange way, I do. Perhaps I was wrong about him.

STEPHEN (off screen): If you try hard enough...


201 MCU Stephen approaching.

STEPHEN: ...perhaps you can reinvent him.

Rachel whirls around, grabs Stephen's face in a passion of confused emotions, anger leading. They kiss, then she breaks away and leaves him at the window.

202 MS Rachel seated, making a call on a red phone.

We see beside Stephen a number of gray stones resting on the floor, mostly oval in shape, different sizes.

RACHEL: Martin Knight, please. When? Really. Rachel Locke.

Stephen stands behind a curtain of glass beads.

RACHEL: Oh, but that's marvelous. How did he find out? From Avis? Hotel Oriente. Thank you. You will let me know if anything else happens. Great. Bye.

She rises and walks toward Stephen who has emerged from behind the beads.

STEPHEN: And what was that?

RACHEL: Martin.


They sit on a sofa.

RACHEL: He left this morning for Barcelona. He may have found Robertson.

STEPHEN: You still looking for him?


Rachel attempts to kiss Stephen but he turns away. So she grasps his head and gives him a kiss.

RACHEL: Yes.


Next: The Passenger Analysis - Part 3
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