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Friday, 16 August 2013

The Prisoner Under The Spotlight

    The Culture Club. When you think about it, ‘the Prisoner,’ being all things, contains a good deal of humour, a variety of sports, action and adventure. There's the enigma of the thing, questions, politics, mystery, murder, and alright if you must let it out of its box - the allegorical!
   Yet there is another side to both the Prisoner, apart from being a man of action, being mechanically minded. Amongst his skills, being able to pilot a helicopter, build a sea-going raft. Being able to navigate, and build his own compass, not to mention his knowledge of how to make the ancient Greek device called a Triquetrum. Being athletic, able to shoot, box and fence, he was once on the Olympic fencing team. He is also a man of culture. He enjoys listening to classical music, he knows his Goethe "Du mass amboss oder hammer sein"and Cervantes  Don Quixote "Y mas mas aldea que se suena." No.6 is well versed on French revolutionary history, demonstrated during his trial at the Dance of the Dead. And history was forced upon him during The General you will recall. No.6 enjoys listening to classical music, such as Bizet, and chamber music back in his cottage during ‘Hammer Into Anvil.’ No.6 has enjoyed social gatherings in the past, those such as Madame Engadines celebrated parties in Paris. And he is well versed in phrases and quotations, "He who digs a pit will one day lie in it!" and "The Butcher with the sharpest knife has the warmest heart," wherever that one's supposed to come from!
    Drugs and Violence. It so happened that the hanging scene was once removed from the episode of ‘Living In Harmony,’ the scene being credited as being too violent, when originally screened here in the UK. Indeed when’ the Prisoner’ was originally deemed to be un-America, because the Prisoner refused to wear a gun, and there was also the question of a drug induced hallucination state of the Prisoners mind to take into account. Well I can see where they were coming from on the "not to bear arms" but drugs? If ‘Living In Harmony’ was also disliked because of the drugs used on No.6 and in the Prisoner generally, in ‘A B and C,’ ‘Free For All,’ ‘The Schizoid Man,’ ‘It’s Your Funeral,’ ‘A Change of Mind?’ Not to mention the therapy and conditioning which patients underwent at the hospital! Not forgetting the Leucotomies carried out on patients, brainwashing and hypnosis, along with the suggestion of human experimentation. If drugs had been the grounds of not screening ‘Living In Harmony’, then originally none of the other 16 episodes should have been screened either. It just goes to show, does it not, just how influential people in certain high places saw ‘the Prisoner’ to be.
    The Eyes Have It. And No.1 has eyes everywhere! The steel electronic eye on the hull of that ‘Fall Out’ rocket for one, the eye which the ex-No.2 spat in! And of course there's the steel electronic eye orbiting the control room for another! Which means No.1 was not only watching the control room personnel, but also No.2 in his office of the Green Dome. And there is no better evidence for this as that demonstrated by No.2 in ‘A B and C,’ when he nervously picks up the red telephone. It was like watching a man putting a gun to his head! And not only that, but also in the laboratory in the woods. Because the oversized red telephone there begins to bleep almost immediately after No.2's failure!
   Number 6 - Hero or Anti-Hero? Could No.6 be a good friend, or your worst enemy? Would you be prepared to let No.6 into your own home, or how about living next door? Would you be prepared to help him in a time of need? Could you trust him?
    Well I suppose it all boils down to which side you are on. For No.2, No.6 is an enemy "who must be made to fit," or be broken in the process. To those like No.50-Monique in ‘Its Your Funeral,’ No.6 is a friend, and he certainly was for No.24-Alison, as he helped her with her mind reading in ‘The Schizoid Man’. And to Cathy in ‘Living In Harmony.’
    Yet No.6 is a resolute man, he can be as ruthless as any No.2, look at how he despatched No.2 of ‘Hammer Into Anvil.’ He can be kind, as he was when he bought a bag of sweets for No.36 during ‘It’s Your Funeral.’  Cruel, in the way he cast aside No.8 and her love for him. No.6 is certainly consistent, in the way he escaped the village in Many Happy Returns, and thought he had during The Chimes of Big Ben, in the way he went running back to his former employers and ex-colleagues - both times! He's certainly stubborn, in not giving up the reason behind his resignation, well not until later anyway. And determined, in his attempts to escape the village! Yet he is loyal, to both his reason for resigning from his job, and his fiancé Janet Portland.
   He is resolute in both rejecting the village and in his attempts to escape his confinement. He has the respect of his superiors, although not liked by all his colleagues at work, Thorpe in Many Happy Returns is one such example. He has the love of his fiancé Janet Portland, devoted to him as she is. And in accepting as bizarre story of a man posing as her fiancé. In identifying by the way he kissed her, the Colonel. Yet this is Janet's side of the matter. Her fiancé you will recall resigned from his job, and had not told Janet. And more, after he had handed in his letter of resignation, he was going to do a runner, and not taking Janet with him!
    So how do you perceive No.6, is he the hero, or anti-hero stirring up trouble wherever he goes?  A warm caring human being, or a ruthless survivalist? The circumstances which No.6 finds himself in dictates his actions, to a degree. But would you help him or hinder him, this man of action?

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