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Passage, The

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UK, 1979, 99 minutes, Colour.
Anthony Quinn, James Mason, Malcolm Mc Dowell, Patricia Neal, Kay Lenz, Paul Clemens, Christopher Lee, Michael Lonsdale, Marcel Bozzuffi, Peter Arne.
Directed by J. Lee Thompson.

The Passage is a suspense film set in World War Two. It is set in the snow-clad Pyrenees.

Anthony Quinn portrays a Basque guide who is asked by the Underground to lead a professor and his family from France into Spain so that they can escape the Nazi occupation. The professor is played by James Mason with Patricia Neal as his wife and Kay Lenz and Paul Clemens as their children. However, they are pursued by a fanatic Nazi, Malcolm Mc Dowell at his most nasty and overblown. There is an interesting supporting cast including Christopher Lee and Michael Lonsdale.

The film emphasises the dangers, the action, the suspense of the pursuit – and some gory touches, especially with the Nazi and his capacity for torture.

The film was directed by J. Lee Thompson who had begun his career in the 1950s in the UK with such films as Tiger Bay. He moved to the United States after directing The Guns of Navarone. In his American career he directed many thrillers, especially with Charles Bronson.

1. An interesting and entertaining film? The popularity of World War II films, films about the Resistance? Nazis and Nazi tactics? Journeys?

2. The stars and their reputation, their contribution to the style of the film?

3. Colour photography, Panavision, French and Spanish locations, the Pyrenees? The Spanish framework and the mountains? The European atmosphere of World War II? The avalanche and its special effects? The dramatic score?

4. Audience attitudes towards World War II? Germany and the Nazis, the S.S. and their ruthlessness? The Underground and Resistance, dangers, torture, executions? The need for getting scientists out of Nazi countries? The enlisting of ordinary citizens and the dangers undergone? Heroism?

5. The film's focus on the Basque, Anthony Quinn and his presence and style, reputation for presenting various national characters? His character as a shepherd, tough Basque, alone in the mountains, his concern for his sheep, the impossibility of the task, the bargaining and the payment? The limit of three days to succeed? His knowledge of the Pyrenees and his guidance? A reflective character, a hero?

6. His journey to France, the train journey and passing through the officials, the meeting with the Resistance? The visit to the brothel and the discovery of the family, the raid and the forcing of the decision? The various escapes, the Basque's resourcefulness, his having to resort to violence? The amount of fighting and killing? His decisiveness during the journey, the rescue of the daughter, the encounter with the gypsies, the driving of the truck, the border decisions and fighting. the guidance over the mountains? Journey and adventure material? how well done?

7. The mountain sequences, his leadership, the difficulties with Mrs Bergsen and her age and health, the heroism of her death and the Basque allowing her to go, his causing of the avalanche? The final discussion about the issues of war and the right to kill?

8. Malcolm Mc Dowell’s interpretation of Von Barlow? The reputation of the S.S., his arrival, imposing his presence, his personality? His attitudes towards underlings? The interrogation of Renoudet, his cooking, the farcical aspects of his chopping the vegetables, sex and sadism? His cutting - and then the fingers? The arrest, vengeance on the gypsies and moving them down and burning their leader? The relentlessness of his pursuit, more than orders from Germany? His pursuing the group in the snow, commandeering the guide and then executing him? The avalanche and his suffering, his appearing at the end, the dilemma and his death? A character, caricature? A symbol of Nazi excesses? Ruthlessness and motivation, guilt?

9. The Bergson family? the professor and his quiet attitudes, his dilemmas about escape, his family? His support of his wife, the antagonism with his son and his son's change of heart? Mrs Bergson and her age, holding up the group, her decision to go out into the snow, the family's reaction? Leah and the arrest by Von BorkowYY, her attitudes. succumbing to him, the escape? Paul and his reaction to almost being killed, discovering that his father rescued him? The value of rescuing this family?

10. The picture of the Resistance, the personalities, the discussions with the Basque, the arrests, torture, the giving of information, death?

11. The guide and his neutrality, leading the Germans, the inevitability of his death?

12. The portrait of the gypsies, their help, their suffering and especially the death of the leader?

13. The adventure ingredients, audience response to these ingredients, especially tho dangers? Interest in ingenuity in escape, pursuit, for example, the border sequences?

14. The value of the amount of violence in the film? excessive and exploitive or part and parcel of this adventure?

Created by: coffey last modification: Saturday 18 of July, 2009 [20:11:11 UTC] by malone

Language: en