Re: Films: The Prisoner

For those who are interested, there is a website on The Prisoner at The
following description is on the front page of this site

What is "The Prisoner" ?

The Prisoner is a television series created by Patrick McGoohan, who also
plays the title role. It first aired in England on October 1, 1967, and has
retained a strong (some would say "cult") following ever since. There are
reasons for this.

It consists of 17 one-hour episodes. While each makes sense when viewed
alone (The Prisoner is no soap opera), they also come together as a
complete story. The series has a definite beginning and a definite end; the
conflicts are resolved and the questions are answered (more or less). There
are no transparent hooks for a movie sequel, and there will be no "next
generation" :-).

On the surface, it is a well done action/suspense show, and is quite
enjoyable as such. But closer inspection reveals multiple levels of meaning
and numerous possible interpretations, many of which are still debated
today. It has a lot of intellectual appeal, with a feel reminiscent of
Huxley and Orwell. The Prisoner is a refreshing change from the mindless
rubbish so common on modern television.

David notes
>Interesting discussion. I've always thought "The Prisoner" was just
>naive sixties-ish antiestablishmentarianism

In my opinion it is far more than that and the points it makes are still -
if not more - valid in the 1990s. Of course, there are very '60s' moments
in the series, but that is also part of its appeal

> Blaming technology for life's
>emptiness is very sixties-ish, and very unfoucauldian. (A comparison
>between that episode and the first episode of Kieslowski's Decalogue
>(Thou Shall Not Have) might be revealing.) All in all, I see "The
>Prisoner" as part of the "Brave New World" genre - an attack on the idea
>of a technological utopia.

I don't think that technology was the focus in the series - it was
certainly there and I agree that the computer shorting out because of the
why question was a bit obvious but in my view the real focus in the series
was social regulation - technology was only one of the means of enforcing


Clare O'Farrell
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