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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Riding The Plain

    The opening sequence to 'the Prisoner' makes for powerful imaging. Dark clouds, the clash of thunder as though a storm is on its way, a long and deserted airstrip, and coming out of the distance hurtling towards the camera a green and yellow nosed Lotus Seven. This opening sequence appears at the very beginning of every episode of 'the Prisoner' except for three, one of those being 'Living In Harmony.' And yet the opening sequence of 'Living In Harmony' is a re-imaging, a reinterpretation of the regular opening sequence. A lone rider crossing the open prairie on horseback. A Marshal sits writing a report at his desk. The Man With No Name puts down his Sheriffs badge on the desk, no words are spoken as he takes off his gun belt and lays that down on the desk beside his badge. The Sheriff has resigned his job!
    The Man With No Name is then see walking, carrying his saddle, perhaps his horse went with the Sheriff's job! Then further on the trail the Man With No Name is attacked by a bunch of desperado's, and over powered and then abducted to the town of Harmony. As a friend of mine commented a few days ago, this is paraphrasing the original opening sequence.
   It would have been nice to have seen George Markstein reinterpreting his role as the Marshal sat behind the desk, but he and Patrick McGoohan had long since fallen out, with Markstein having left the production long before 'Living In Harmony.'

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Exhibition Of Arts And Crafts

From My Black and White Period


Caught On Camera!

   Like most enthusiasts of 'the Prisoner,' I have watched 'Many Happy Returns' time and time again, and time and time again I've been pleasantly surprised that the series still has the power to produce something new to be seen. Take Number 6 at sea aboard his raft, it wasn't until a recent screening of this episode that my wife suddenly said "The raft appears to be going backwards!" So we rewound the video tape and watched again. And yes it's true, that although the sail is full of wind, the raft itself is going backwards! It must be a very strong tide at that point, either that or the raft is under tow!


The Prisoner Draws You In - Makes You Part of The Village

    The viewer of ‘the Prisoner’ is often asked to accept something without question, because much of the series will forever remain an unexplained puzzlement. The rest is open to questions and interpretations, that which have no specific definition or reason. Yet there is much we do understand about ‘the Prisoner series.’ And there are times in the series when we have to take certain things at face value, as in ‘Many Happy Returns’ for example. No.6 wakes up in what he sees as a deserted Village. Now it is quite inconceivable that everyone would have deserted The Village and simply leave Number 6 behind. So what does Number 6 do? Well he doesn't just sit about waiting for something to happen, no. He makes a search of The Village, to see if there is anyone about. But as it turns out, the only other creature sharing the Village with Number 6, is a black cat. Then Number 6 sets about construction of a Kon-Tiki style sea-going raft, from fallen trees and oil drums. He gathers his provisions, takes photographic evidence of The Village, and then puts to sea. He has no idea where he is sailing to, because he doesn't know where he is sailing from. Number 6 has set off sailing into the unknown, taking us with him! But just a minute, there’s the sound of breaking crockery, a broken tea cup and saucer are at the feet of the cat. The cat couldn’t have broken the cup and saucer, there had to be someone hiding behind the balustrade! But just at that moment we share Number 6’s disappointment that hope of escape has been dashed at the last moment. And yet share also his adulation at seeing only The Village cat!
    From the moment Number 6 woke up in an apparently deserted Village, he didn't question the situation. He never once thought that he should just sit down and wait to see what happens next. Number 6 is a man of action, and took what he saw as being the only way out of The Village. Such was his desire to escape, to be free of The Village, that the dangers of the open sea were far preferable to him.
   If Number 6 can accept that The Village is deserted, then so can we, the viewer. In fact he has drawn us into The Village, he has made Observers of us all, watching as he chops down trees, empties oil drums, from which he constructs his sea-going raft. But more than that, No.6 takes us along with him on his epic sea voyage. And then back in time to witness his unceremonious return to The Village.
   Yet there is an episode in which we the viewers are a part of the story as Number 2 and his assistant Number 10, and that is the story of ‘The Girl Who Was Death.’ Number 6 gives nothing away, to either Number 2 or his Grandmother, and at the same time, confesses nothing to the viewer, that's you and me. Because No.6 may have told Number 2 and his assistant a blessed fairy tale, but he was telling the tale to us as well. He drew the viewer into the story, who wanted to know as much as Number 2 himself. And like Number 2, the viewer is just as frustrated by Number 6. And if there is meaning by the gesture of the toy clown being placed in front of the camera, aimed at Number 2. Is that also not also aimed at the viewer?
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Monday, 21 July 2014

All Out Convention Yesterdays

    To respond to a request for more Convention yesterdays, I'm happy to bring  a few more to the fore. Commencing with from 1994, from the election Parade.
    To  'The Schizoid Man' fencing scene for the same year. This was the first time conventioneers had seen anything like this at a Prisoner convention. Hundreds of people stood watching, photographing, and filming the action.
   Interviewed by the reporter for the Daily Post, an interview which took long enough, but which never actually appeared in the newspaper!
  The knockout blow from Killer Kaminski! The first time this re-enactment was performed. Those attending the conventions had never seen anything like it before. I thank Steven Ricks for supplying the deerstalker, dog coat, and umbrella for the character of Mister X, and my wife for the false beard and sideburns.
And the human chess match re-enactment 1995 I think it was.
    What astonishes many people seeing pictures, are all those people watching the human Chess match. What's more many people wanted to take part in this re-enactment, that there was always a rush for the chess poles. We had to set a certain number aside for those chess pieces who had lines to speak on the chessboard. Oh and for the 1995 re-enactment I had to save the white Kings pawn as I had received the request from someone at the 1994 convention, if the following year he could stand on the chessboard next to me!
   This is when Prisoner conventions used to be held at Portmeirion at the height of summer. Yes there used to be a few complaints from day visitors to Portmeirion to find the convention on-going, people who had come for the Italianate Village for its own sake, and not for 'the Prisoner.' But thankfully any such complaints were very thin on the ground. And the vast majority of people always enjoyed themselves.

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What's That NO.6 Up To?

              The Village Welcomes Home It's Seafaring Son

    The Amis Reunis/stone boat, pictured above, returned to her home port today to a huge reception organised by No.2 himself. People cheered, the Brass band played, to welcome home one of The Village's seafaring heros having completed the round the yacht race in just 69 days. No.6 addressed the gathered       crowd who had assembled along the quayside. "It is good to return to my home" said No.6 from the top of the fore cabin, "The Amis Reunis is good in any weather, and to have broken the round the world, single-handed yacht race has been an ordeal. But I did it for The Village and it's fine community. It is a pity that my old friend the Admiral-Number Sixty-six could not have been with me as I sailed around the Horn. But he is
here today, to witness my home coming, and I hope I have made him proud."                                                     The Amis Reunis will remain moored at the quayside as a memorial to No.6's achievement. It is highly unlikely that she will actually put to sea ever again, except in the imagination of those who put to sea in her!

Reporter No.113
Photographer No.113b

Thought For The Day

   In ‘The Chimes of Big Ben’ we learn at the end that Number Six's British superiors are working for The Village - or at least they were a part of whatever system had incarcerated him. In ‘Many Happy Returns,’ we're not so sure. Those British superiors appear authentic, and they seem honestly concerned about what happened to Number Six, well the Colonel perhaps, not so sure about Thorpe! Casual viewers may think that the pilot of the Gloster Meteor jet aircraft, the man who ejects Number Six from the aircraft and back to The Village, was working for the British. But a closer viewing reveals that the airplane pilot first appears in the episode as a Milkman, driving a milk float which bears a sign "Pinta man Is Strong," which of course is a cover. The Milkman is working for The Village, who overpowered the Group Captain, taking his flying suit and helmet, and flew Number Six back to The Village.
    That is exactly what happened in the original script. In fact, in the original script we are introduced to the character who is going to fly the aircraft, and we are privy to a scene in which the Milkman and this pilot confront each other. If this had been completed according to the original script, we would be in no doubt that the actual airplane pilot was different to the intended pilot. Why would the change have been made in the final version? Perhaps the script was going too long and certain scenes had to be trimmed. And yet considering the importance of this detail - it was decided to leave the situation ambiguous. Although it is fairly clear that the British superiors were in on it as the Colonel and Fotheringay before them, the Colonel this time making no attempt to try and stop his ex-colleague from going back looking for The Village. Whether or not the Group Captain was also in on it, helping the Milkman into a flying suit, or having been attacked  by the Milkman, thus taking the Group Captain’s flying suit, or if he had one of his own will forever remain unknown.

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