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Saturday, 16 May 2015

Arrival

   ‘The Prisoner’ begins with a strong, powerful and compelling opening sequence. Thunder, dark clouds gathering over a deserted runway. Then from out of the distance a green and yellow nosed car speeds toward the camera, a close-up of the drivers face, the grimaced look of determination. Then London, an underground car park, and a long dark tunnel. It’s dramatic as the man bursts into an office, ranting and raving at a man sat behind a desk. There’s anger, power, and passion in the scene. Eventually the man returns home, the hearse which followed him through the streets is now parked in the street, an undertaker watches the man go into a house……………..
 As the initial episode ‘Arrival’ sets the scene, the situation of a man having resigned his job, and ends up incarcerated in The Village. He doesn’t know where he is, why he is there, or who is holding him prisoner. The series gets off on a firm footing with ‘Arrival,’ it depicts the departing of the establishment, entering into a surreal other-world environment. Is it physical, a dream, a fantasy, or a nightmare? It is all of these and more, and there are few episodes in ‘the Prisoner’ which eclipse ‘Arrival,’ which is the only episode to use the full opening sequence. And again there is anger as the now Prisoner shouts his catechism from the beach “I am not a number, I am a free man.”
   Patrick McGoohan is the charismatic star, the Prisoner, and so the series revolves around the character of Number 6. And yet there is another star, KAR 120C, the Lotus Seven, which Patrick McGoohan personally chose for the series.
    It is a while before the first words are spoken “We’ll be open in a minute, do you want breakfast?” the waitress at the café informs and asks the new arrival. A taxi ride, and the Prisoner learns that there are no cars for hire, only taxis, and they are only the local service. Meaning eventually you arrive back where you began! An oriental taxi driver speaks to the Prisoner in french, french is international, other languages are heard from time to time all of which are completely incomprehensible! The chief language spoken in The Village is English!
   The Prisoner attempts to make contact with someone back in his world, but he hasn’t got a number, so no number, no call!
   In The General store the Prisoner attempts to buy a map, but they only show The Village and the immediate area. There is no demand for maps showing larger areas!
   In his cottage of ‘6 Private’ music is playing through a black loudspeaker as the Prisoner explores the new environment of his “home from home.” But eventually the persistent music begins to play on his nerves. In a pique of anger he takes the loudspeaker and tramples it to bits under foot! And yet the music plays on, the first demonstration that good old fashioned brute force will avail the Prisoner nothing!
   During a de-briefing session with Number 2, the Prisoner learns that they know all about him, the fact that his date of birth is missing from his file is a cunning ploy on the part of Number 2. Answer that one simple question, and all the rest will follow. Well this is not the only time that ploy will be used, and not the only time it will fail!
   Out and about in The Village, the Prisoner encounters the phrase “Be seeing you,’ used in conjunction with a salute, which is used as both a greeting and a parting gesture, as The Village is a small community and so its unavoidable that citizens will always be seeing the same people on a day to day basis. As the speaker will be seeing you, as neither the speaker nor any citizen are going anywhere!
   The Prisoner meets an ex-colleague in the hospital after an encounter with The Village Guardian, having attempted an escape by Mini-Moke. The Prisoner laid into the Guardian with his fists however the Guardian, like any balloon, offers no resistance. Another demonstration that good old fashioned brute force avails Number 6 nothing! Another escape attempt by helicopter demonstrates that escape is not possible, even when aided by someone within the system! Another demonstration is that Number 6 will not accept his imprisonment, rejecting both his number and The Village. He will not conform, he will resist coercion, he is not a number, he is a person!

Be seeing you

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