Tag Archives: Kafka

THE PRISONER: FALL OUT (SERIES FINALE)

BFall Outalladeer’s Blog CONCLUDES its  examination of the 1967 science fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. For Part One, in which I examined the themes and concepts at play in the series click  HERE

Episode Title: FALL OUT

Madness and death reign supreme in the still-controversial series finale of The Prisoner.

We’ve arrived at the 17th and final episode of this innovative Patrick McGoohan series. Last time around, in Part One of the two-part conclusion, we at last learned why the Prisoner resigned from British Intelligence. The significance of the Penny-Farthing Bicycle symbolism was explored, too. (FOR MY REVIEW OF THAT EPISODE CLICK HERE  )

Fall Out brings the entire saga to a close. Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: THE SCHIZOID MAN

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the 1967 science fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. For Part One, in which I examined the themes and concepts at play in the series click HERE 

Schizoid ManEpisode Title: THE SCHIZOID MAN … In the ongoing debate about the exact numbering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this as the 5th episode. 

This episode’s Number Two – the rotating series of executives in charge of the Village – is portrayed by Anton Rodgers, whom regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will remember from his role in the musical Scrooge (1970).

The Schizoid Man is especially beloved by all of us who value our individuality above nearly everything else. In this episode the nefarious Villagekeepers play their most effective mind game against Patrick McGoohan’s character The Prisoner. They seek to break him by robbing him of the very foundation of all his strengths: his identity and uniqueness. Or if you prefer, his sense of self.   Continue reading

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THE PRISONER (1967): ARRIVAL

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the science fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. For Part One, in which I examined the themes and concepts at play in the series click HERE  

ArrivalEpisode Title: ARRIVAL 

Fans of The Prisoner know that the exact order of the 17 episodes is up in the air since not even Patrick McGoohan, the show’s creator, star and prime creative force, was certain. However, there is no doubt that Arrival is the very first episode of the show (for obvious reasons).

The opening credits sequence is repeated for each episode (except for variations for Living in Harmony and for the very last episode, titled Fallout). That sequence presents our protagonist, the Prisoner (real name never revealed), disgustedly resigning from the Intelligence Service. Back at his home he is gassed into unconsciousness and awakens in an isolated, high-tech and dystopian prison-city that is called the Village.    

The program’s nature as a Kafkaesque tale with science fiction trappings is established in this debut episode. The Prisoner is taken aback by the seemingly cheerful and storybook surface nature of the Village and the way that surface is at odds with the underlying air of fear and paranoia.

Prisoner psych wardAll inhabitants/ captives of the Village are either former Intelligence Operatives like himself, or scientists or figures from the government or military. And from all around the world, too, not just the West.

In the Cold War attitude of the time the Prisoner is obsessed with finding out “which side” the Villagekeepers are on, but as the series progresses it becomes clear that the Free World vs Communist World paradigm is merely part of the deception being played on the Village’s prisoners. And possibly the world at large, intriguingly enough.    Continue reading

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THE PRISONER (1967): MORE RELEVANT THAN EVER BEFORE

Prisoner 1Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are very familiar with my high regard for Patrick McGoohan’s 1967 science-fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. Over the many times I’ve referred to this 17-episode program I’ve heard back from a few readers here and there saying they have heard of the show but never saw any episodes and don’t understand its appeal.

I’ve decided to do an in-depth look at The Prisoner, episode by episode, for the benefit of readers who’ve never seen the show and in the hope of reigniting interest among Prisoner fans who mistakenly feel the program’s relevance ended with the Cold War. Actually, The Prisoner is more relevant than ever, in my view, what with its brilliant blend of Orwell and Kafka plus its foreshadowing of shows like Twin Peaks and Lost.

Prisoner 2The premise of The Prisoner reflects Patrick McGoohan’s disillusionment and disgust with the way pop fiction romanticized Intelligence Agents, who are actually just government thugs, not heroes. From interviews McGoohan did over the years he seemed to feel a certain sense of personal guilt over his own contribution to that romanticized image, especially from his successful run as Intelligence Operative John Drake on Danger Man and Secret Agent. (His acclaim from those programs was such that Patrick was supposedly approached to play James Bond in Dr No. He declined.)

LET’S GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY: Many Prisoner fans still engage in a fairly pointless argument over whether or not Patrick McGoohan’s never-named character on The Prisoner is supposed to be John Drake from his earlier series. IT. DOES. NOT. MATTER.  (And in one oft-cited episode another character rather clearly says “break” not “Drake,” but there’s no convincing the pro-Drake crowd.)

Prisoner 3Either way, John Drake or not John Drake, the point is that McGoohan portrays a Secret Agent who resigns from the Intelligence Services in disgust. Soon after, he is gassed into unconsciousness and abducted.

He comes to in an isolated, high-tech but dystopian community known only as The Village (or “The Island” if you’re a fan of The Simpsons episode that parodied The Prisoner.)  Continue reading

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THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTED (1980)

Night of the Hunted 1THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTED (1980) – Halloween Month continues with a review of this French horror film. The Night of the Hunted was written and directed by Jean Rollin, who may be the definitive “love him or hate him” auteur.

My own view has long been that Rollin’s films are like projects David Lynch would direct from scripts by Anne Rice. I also believe that the often pedestrian translations of his movies into English accounts for why some viewers think his films are much less complex than they really are.

With The Night of the Hunted our man Jean departs from his usual tales of the undead and explores a different sort of horror. Brigitte Lahaie, the beautiful starlet of so many Rollin films, stars as Elysabeth, who is part of a pair of women on the run through the night-darkened roadways. Continue reading

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