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Saturday, 28 June 2014

More Village



    April 17th saw the 5th anniversary of THEPRI6NER, and so to celebrate, I watched a screening of the series, my ninth screening in fact. Since the year began I’ve had a hankering to watch THEPRIS6NER, but managed to hold myself in check until April. I am still in awe of the series, and have lost none of my enthusiasm. One of the aspects of THEPRIS6NER I enjoy is it’s subtly. The Prisoner might not bang his fist on the table when he gets angry, unlike his predecessor. Jim Caviezel may not shout “I am not a number, I am a free man” like Patrick McGoohan, because he is not Patrick McGoohan. The series is not “in your face” as the original, in fact I have come round to the thinking that in the case of THEPRIS6NER, less is more. And that is reflected at the end of every episode {well almost every episode, as I feel ‘Harmony’ is the weakest of the 6 episodes} and at the end of the series I am always left with the feeling of wanting more. That’s the sign of a good television series.
    With the original series my sympathies definitely lay with No.6, apart from a time or two with No.2 such as at the end of ‘A B and C.’ Yet with THEPRIS6NER my sympathies lay with Two. Curtis and his wife Helen a bio-Chemist and Dr. of Philosophy in something or other {that part of her certificate is obscured}, entered into the experiment of the Village in order to have a family. The drawback being that although Helen in New York has to remain heavily sedated, and fed hallucinogenic drugs in order for her to dream the Village within the depths of her subconscious, M2 also seems to have to be sedated as well. Which in turns means Two can only have a few minutes at any one time with his wife M2, before holes begin to appear in the Village, simply because M2 is awake, which in turn must mean that Curtis is spending time with his wife Helen. Two is proud of the Village. He sponsors the idea of “More Village.” And yet, the Village is not ideal for Two, unable to live a normal life with his wife in either the Village or in New York. And its hardly the perfect life that Helen had chosen, as the child she so desperately craved, as M2 she doesn’t know her son 11-12 at all. It’s no wonder Two was desperate to hand over the Village to Six, which left escape open for both Curtis-Two and Helen-M2, seeing as they have no life together in either existence.  
   I shouldn’t think that THEPRIS6NER will ever see a repeat on ITV, but then again it’s been some years since the original series of ‘the Prisoner’ was screened on ITV, the main channel. On ITV4 yes, but even then it’s been a while. But at least the tide of antipathy shown to THEPRIS6NER  seems to be turning. Only the other week I heard from someone who said they had been reading my articles on the subject, and told me that because of what I had written she had been inspired to watch the series again, having taken a great dislike to the series the first time. And that’s good, and I am gratified that my articles are having an effect that fans of the original series, are giving the 2009 series a second chance. Because THEPRIS6NER certainly deserves that second chance.
   Ever since 1967 I have been a fan of ‘the Prisoner,’ and for years when there had been talk of either  a new series or a Hollywood feature film of ‘the Prisoner,’ I was of the opinion that any new series or film should adhere to the original, and the only place for a new series or film was Portmeirion. Such was my purist opinion. Then after all those years of talk there came THEPRIS6NER. I never turned a hair when I heard that the new series was not to be filmed in Portmeiron, but Swakopmund in Namibia. Where was Swakopmund? I had to locate it on the map. Then I wanted to see pictures of Swakopmund, and when I did, I knew it was the perfect location for the Village. It even has a Lighthouse! I know that the architecture of Swakopmund isn’t quite Portmeiron, but it was the decoration of the buildings which struck me to be Portmeirionesque.



   There is a tremendous difference between the original series of ‘The Prisoner’ and the 2009 series. The fact that I could follow the progression of the production of THEPRIS6NER via the AMCtv website. Reading about the problems, such as when the Therapy Zone fibreglass tunnel blew over in a sand storm! Reading the daily blogs written by both production crew and members of the cast at the time, which is something which could never have been experienced with the production of the original series. So I knew what was coming with THEPRIS6NER, and couldn’t wait to see the series. All the time during the series production, I was excited about it. And when ITV began screening adverts for THEPRI6NER I became even more excited. I emailed ITV at the time, asking when the series was to be screened, but I was told that they did not know. So I just had to be patient.
The following pages contain excerpts from writings of the time of the production of THEPRIS6NER, reproduced in order to say happy fifth anniversary. 
            
 Breathe in….breathe out…..more….Village



   Ian McKellen to play Number 2 in Prisoner Remake Ian McKellen to play Number 2 in Prisoner Remake       
   ITV has today confirmed that Sir Ian McKellen and Jim Caviezel will star in the network's remake of 1960s classic cult thriller, The Prisoner.
    American film actor Caviezel will take the role of Number Six while McKellen will appear throughout the series as Number Two.
    The original Prisoner show was filmed in the Italianate resort of Portmeirion in North Wales - but ITV was not confirming where the new series will be shot. ITV Productions is co-producing the six-part series with Granada International and AMC, with a worldwide premiere slated for 2009. The Prisoner is the first project being "greenlit" as part of ITV's new co-production with US studios and networks.
   Sir Ian said of the new version: "It is witty, intelligent and disturbing. I am very excited to be involved."
    Patrick McGoohan created, produced, wrote and directed the original show and starred in the lead role of Number Six.
    The remake promises reflect 21st century concerns and anxieties, such as liberty, security and surveillance, while showcasing the same paranoia and tense action seen in McGoohan's enigmatic original.
   The six one-hour episodes tell the story of a man who finds himself trapped in a mysterious and surreal place known as The Village, with no memory of how he arrived.
   As he frantically explores his environment, he discovers that its inhabitants are identified by number instead of by name and have no memory of a prior existence or outside civilisation.
   Not knowing who to trust, Number Six is driven by the desperate need to discover the truth behind The Village, which is controlled by the sinister and charismatic Number Two.
{Source: The Press Association} 2008   ITV announced today that Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen will star in the network’s reinvention of the 1960s classic cult thriller The Prisoner. Caviezel takes the role of Number Six while McKellen will appear throughout the series in the role of Number Two. ITV Productions is co-producing the six-part series with Granada International and AMC, with a worldwide premiere slated for 2009.
   In the 1960s, The Prisoner helped permanently alter the scope of the fantasy genre. Through the work of Patrick McGoohan – who created, produced, wrote and directed the series, and starred in the lead role of Number Six – The Prisoner is widely regarded as one of the most well regarded and intriguing cult TV series ever created.
    While the original series, which debuted in 1967, was a riff on Cold War politics, ITV’s remake will reflect 21st century concerns and anxieties, such as liberty, security and surveillance, yet also showcase the same key elements of paranoia, tense action and socio-political commentary seen in McGoohan’s enigmatic original.
    The six one-hour episodes tell the story of a man who finds himself trapped in a mysterious and surreal place known as The Village, with no memory of how he arrived. As he frantically explores his environment, he discovers that its inhabitants are identified by number instead of by name and have no memory of a prior existence or outside civilization. Not knowing who to trust, Number Six is driven by the desperate need to discover the truth behind The Village, the reason for his being there, and most importantly, how he can survive and escape to his previous life.
    The Village is controlled by one man – the sinister and charismatic Number Two. In each new episode Six and Two are locked in a battle of wits, as Six challenges the oppressive nature of The Village and battles against his captors. Six must find out what The Village is, but in doing so, he must also confront some dark truths about himself.
   McKellen says of the role: “Bill Gallagher’s new version of The Prisoner is an enthralling commentary on modern culture. It is witty, intelligent and disturbing. I am very excited to be involved.”
   John Whiston, Director of ITV Productions says: “For those of us who were watching grown up TV in the 60s The Prisoner was dangerous, exciting and challenging TV. For those of us who were too young to stay up to watch the series, it casts a long shadow. You don’t embark on something this iconic without the best team around to do it justice for a whole new era. With Bill Gallagher as writer, Trevor Hopkins as Producer, Michele Buck, Damien Timmer and Rebecca Keane as the UK Execs, AMC as production partners, ITV as UK Commissioners and Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen leading the cast, we have that team on board. I can’t wait.”
    Writer Bill Gallagher says: “I was haunted by The Prisoner when I saw it as a boy on its first broadcast. Here was something that was more than television, something I couldn’t quite grasp but couldn’t let go of. It’s a unique opportunity for a writer to be able to go back to The Village and tell some new stories about that strange place and its surreal menace. We have a terrific cast and a wonderful director, so we hope to serve up something as beguiling and disturbing as the original was.”
    Producer Trevor Hopkins adds: “The Prisoner was an iconic piece of 60s TV and updating the series for a contemporary audience has thrown up many interesting challenges. I feel that Bill Gallagher’s splendid scripts, combined with Jim and Ian in the lead roles will bring the series to a whole new audience, whilst still pleasing the dedicated fans of the original.”
    ITV’s Managing Director Global Content, Lee Bartlett, said: “As an ardent fan of both Patrick McGoohan’s original vision and now Bill Gallagher’s reimagining, I am excited that The Prisoner will become the first project to be greenlit as part of ITV’s new co-production model with US studios and networks. In particular, I am delighted to be partnering with AMC on such a prestigious project.” The Prisoner is a co-production of AMC and ITV Productions; the deal brokered by ITV Worldwide, which holds all international rights, as well as sales and remake right to the original series. ITV DVD holds Home Entertainment rights. The series is written and Executive Produced by Bill Gallagher.
Sir Ian McKellen Talks About THEPRIS6NER


    Sir Ian McKellen as Number Two in The Prisoner. Photo copyright of Granada TV/AMC
  In the 1960s British TV series The Prisoner, a character named simply Number Two was the overseer of The Village, a remote seaside community that welcomed new “residents” but rarely allowed anyone to leave – at least alive. When an ex-British Secret Service agent, Number Six (played by actor and series co-creator Patrick McGoohan), was brought to The Village against his will, Number Two was assigned the task of finding out the truth behind why Six resigned from his job.
   Over the course of the show’s 17-episode run, no less than 17 actors and actresses portrayed Number Two, with Leo McKern appearing three times and Colin Gordon appearing twice. Some stories featured more than one Number Two, including It’s Your Funeral, in which two incarnations of the character played major roles in the episode, while images of two others were seen as well.
    This Sunday, November 15th, AMC will air the first two episodes of its six-part miniseries remake of The Prisoner. Award-winning British stage, feature film and TV actor Sir Ian McKellen assumes the role of Number Two and, like his predecessors, is equally dogged when it comes to finding out Number Six’s (Jim Caviezel) true agenda. In the following AMC press Q & A, Sir Ian McKellen talks about the 2009 miniseries and his role in it.
   Why did The Prisoner interest you?
    Ian McKellen - This is the sort of thing I would enjoy watching myself and that is always the test. It also arrived at the right time – I wanted to work and, to top it all, it brought me to Cape Town. Now, it’s more intriguing than when I first read it. It’s a thriller and unlike the original series, this is much more about what Six wants to escape from and why he can’t escape. There are clues from the very first scene in the opening episode.
   Who is Two?
   IM - In the original series, Two was running The Village. More than that, he was played by a different actor for each episode, but this time there’s just me playing the part. Two appears to be in charge of The Village and he has the qualities of someone who might well be that. If you like The Village, you’d accept him as your leader and revere him, but if you don’t like The Village, you’d think he is a monster. I personally don’t think he’s creepy at all.
    What about Two’s family?
    IM - It is no secret that Two has a family. He has a son in his late teens and he has a wife who’s comatose and with whom he is madly in love. So he has a wife who he can’t really talk to, and a son who doesn’t want to talk to him. He loves them both and it is his love for them both that sets the whole story rollicking along. Does he bring Six to The Village to take over from him or does it become his motive as the story goes on? You never know with The Village.
    Why is The Prisoner so compelling?
   IM - Once you get involved with something as good as this you find out things you didn’t know before. I read online about people who indulge in mutual dreaming. Sometimes the dreams are identical. I suppose Bill Gallagher [who wrote this re-imagined version of The Prisoner] knew that, and if he didn’t, is very perceptive to these things. What I like about The Prisoner are all the oddities, the strangeness and the peculiarities. Portmerion [the setting in which the original 60s Prisoner was shot] doesn’t look real. It’s a fantasy. Bill Gallagher’s Prisoner is set in a more believable place and one that clearly has a style to it. Swakopmund has the feel of a prison, with the mighty Atlantic Ocean on one side of the town and desert on the other side.
    Are there similarities to the original?
    IM - There are references back to the original and there are characters that appear in the original that appear in this. I don’t think it is any secret that Rover is back. In this, as opposed to the original, we discover where Rover comes from. Questions are answered. People who enjoyed the original might ask why have you cast an American and not an Englishman in the central role? It all will be answered. The Prisoner is being re-imagined by a group of people who are fans of the original.
   What do you think The Prisoner is about?
    IM - It is about relationships in the context of things which preoccupy us. It is about the nature of government today, about the state of mental health, about conspiracy theories. It is a thriller because exciting things happen, and if you are interested to know why they happen  you would want to watch the next episode. The story plays with current observations just like the original did.
"Bill Gallagher's new version of The Prisoner is an enthralling commentary on modern culture. It is witty, intelligent and disturbing. I am very excited to be involved," said Ian McKellan.
    In the opening scene of ITV's reworking of the cult classic The Prisoner, a man known only as Number Six wakes up in a strange desert. The first thing he see s is a bearded old man being chased by a posse armed with guns and dogs. Number Six carries the elderly man, who, it emerges, is named Number 93, to the safety of a nearby cave.
    As the old man fades towards death, he whispers in Number Six's ear: "Tell all I got out. Go to 554."
"554? What?" asks the clearly bemused Number Six.
"You're not from here, are you?"
"I don't even know how I got to this place," responds the increasingly perplexed Number Six.
"You're a blessed miracle. Be seeing you," laughs Number 93, before quietly expiring.
   What of The Prisoner, then? Will that thrive when it is released into the community in 2010? The signs that it can be rehabilitated in the present day are promising. The tale of a nameless man, Number Six (played by Jim Caviezel), who has no clue why he is being held captive and rails against the authoritarian leader of the Village, Number Two (Ian McKellen), plugs into timeless themes. The ideas first developed by McGoohan more than four decades ago still have traction today: the deceptiveness of appearances, the confusion between fantasy and reality, the power of dreams, the insidiousness of the surveillance society and political dictatorships, the impact of mind games and the effect of psychiatry. The piece is infused with a very 21st-century sense of paranoia about state control. After all, we live in the country with the most CCTV cameras per capita in the world. So Number Six's celebrated cri de coeur - "I am not a number, I'm a free man" - shakes us as much today as it did in 1967.
   Lennie James, who plays Number 147, a taxi driver who seems to be happy with his lot in the Village, asserts that, "The Prisoner has endured because it is a classic whose ideas will never date. The proof of its durability is the fact that so many people have returned to it in different versions. Lost, The Matrix and The Truman Show have all drawn on the central theme of The Prisoner: what is reality?
    McKellen concludes that, "There are certain scenes in The Prisoner where you don't quite know where you are - and that's a good thing. So much telly these days is linear and over-explained, but this is very different. It's a very bold thing for ITV1 to do. Viewers need extending. Commissioning editors need to push boundaries and make things that don't provide all the answers. "We want more shows like this that make people ask, 'what on earth is going on?'

  “Village Is Best For us!

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