Frantic (film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Frantic is a noted 1988 thriller film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Harrison Ford.


Harrison Ford plays Dr Richard Walker, a surgeon visiting Paris with his wife for a medical conference. At their hotel his wife is unable to open her suitcase and Walker tells her she has picked up the wrong one at the airport. While Walker is taking a shower his wife mysteriously disappears from their hotel room. Still jet-lagged, he searches for her in the hotel with the help of a polite but mostly indifferent staff, then wanders outside to look further on his own. A street-person overhears him in a [café] and tells Walker he saw his wife being forced into a car. Walker is sceptical until he finds his wife's ID bracelet on the cobblestones. He contacts the US embassy and the Paris police but their responses are bureaucratic and there is little hope anyone will look for her. As Walker carries on the search himself (with input from a very sympathetic but wary desk clerk at the hotel) he stumbles onto a murder scene and then the streetwise young Michelle (Emmanuelle Seigner) who mistakenly picked up his wife's suitcase at the airport. It transpires that she is a career smuggler but does not know for whom she is working, and thus reluctantly helps Walker. This begins his frantic attempt, with the young woman's help, to learn what was in the switched suitcase and trade whatever it was for his wife's life.

It turns out that hidden within a small replica of the Statue of Liberty is a krytron, a small switch capable of detonating nuclear devices. The film ends with a confrontation on the River Seine where the terrorists hand Walker his wife back. However, a firefight ensues between the terrorists and other agents, and Michelle is killed in the crossfire. Angry and upset, Walker throws the krytron into the river.

The French locations and Ennio Morricone's musical score create much of the film's atmosphere. Grace Jones' recording of "I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)" is heard at key moments in the film.


Frantic was a critical success and moderately successful at the box office. The film received "Two Thumbs Up" from Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on the TV show Siskel & Ebert and The Movies Pat Collins of WWOR-TV called it "Polanski's best film ever."

Cultural references

Frantic was mentioned in the Barenaked Ladies' song "One Week" and also referenced in Mos Def's "Ms. Fat Booty" from Black on Both Sides. The song "Frantic" by Aqueduct has both a "Roman Polanski Version" and an instrumental "Harrison Ford Version".

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Frantic (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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