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Monday, 19 September 2016

Bureau of Visual Records


    The moment the Prisoner steps into Number 2’s impressive office he’s put straight under the spotlight! Is there a purpose to this, does it aid Number 2 in dealing with the new arrival? Is it some kind of interrogation technique? Perhaps the spotlight has no purpose, except for dramatic effect in highlighting the subject. On stage the spotlight, sometimes known as the followspot, operated by a spotlight operator {obvious really} uses the light to track actors around the stage. So it would seem that although ‘the Prisoner’ was being filmed for television, a stage effect was being used on this set. As the Prisoner walks around the chamber the spotlight is kept on him all the time. Perhaps it’s simply because Patrick McGoohan is the chief antagonist in this scene, and so the spotlight is kept on him.

Be seeing you

17 comments:

  1. Apart from this obvious dramatic effect the spotlight later reveals to have some kind of (post-) hypnotical effect too; see "Free For All", "OUAT". The question would be whether the additional application of drugs (in water, milk etc.) is needed in order to work. - BCNU!

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    1. Hello Arno,
      Well this has brought about a lively discussion.
      Absolutely, the hypnotical effect of the spotlight is well documented in various episodes. But how permanent is the effect….not that permanent I should imagine, but it is used often. I doubt whether the use of other drugs as in the tap water for example, have anything to do with the use of the spotlight, that can be effective as well as painful all on its own, as demonstrated when Number 2 was interrogating Number 12 in ‘The Schizoid Man.’
      In this case I like to think the use of the spotlight is to emphasize the focus on the Prisoner, but that’s just a personal choice.

      Best regards
      David
      BCNU

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  2. Hello David,
    if the spotlight is used as a stage effect, it is an interesting example of a fourth wall break, since The Prisoner reacts to the light. I like that.

    I think it might also be there to emphasize that he's in their focus. They watch him, keep track on him. In a way those lights put him under pressure, I think. It's not just the two of them talking, it's him on some kind of stage, and an audience he can't see.
    Best regards,
    Jana
    BCNU

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    1. Hello Jana,
      As I said in my reply to Arno, I like to think the use of the spotlight is to emphasize the focus on the Prisoner, but that’s just a personal choice.
      I’m sure that anyone would react when a light is shone upon them, that’s a natural reaction, after that the Prisoner isn’t bothered about it. I like the “fourth wall” idea, that it’s put there as a wall between actors on stage.
      It is simply a case of two men talking, and the spotlight adds a little dramatic effect. As for the audience, well that’s us and anyone else watching, including possibly Number 1!

      Best regards
      David
      BCNU

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    2. Hello David,
      yes, the spotlight does add a dramatic effect,and I agree, it is used to put the focus on the Prisoner. But was it an effect intended by the Village or by the production team, or both? I agree, anyone would react to such a light, but on stage you are bound to ignore it. That's why I thought it would kind of break the fourth wall, but thinking about it this was a little bit far fetched. I guess in this scene it's something in between. It is used by the production team of the Prisoner for some dramatic effect, but also becomes a means of the Village to impress the Prisoner. The lines between the production and the Villages reality are getting blurred.
      Best regards,
      Jana
      BCNU

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    3. Hello Jana,
      The thing is there are two ways of looking at it, on the production front the spotlight is there simply for effect but to be ignored by the actor as you say. But then from the story side of it, the spotlight is there to emphasize the focus on the Prisoner, so he was right not to ignore it! So it can be both.

      Best regards
      David
      BCNU

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  3. The theatrical, "stage effect" aspect of the Prisoner in certain episodes has been mentioned some time earlier here, most notably in "OUAT" and "Fall Out". The spotlight, in this respect, is evident. And it also serves very practical purposes as pointed out: the "neurolysing" effect as they'd call it in the Men In Black films. - BCNU!

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  4. Absolutely. So there are three (purposeful?) effects:
    Some kind of alienation when the reality of the Village is turned into a stage play, the symbolic value of setting someone into the spotlight and the practical (blinding and hypnotizing) effects of the light itself.

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    1. By the way, what's the "4th wall break"?

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  5. The 4th wall is a term for an "invisible" wall between audience and stage. Actors on stage normally act as if there was no audience, as if they were behind a wall so to say. Audience and the reality that is portrayed on stage are entirely seperated by this "wall". But there might be moments when an actor turns to the audience and directly adresses it, as part of the play. This is what's called a 4th-wall-break.

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  6. Hello Arno and Jana,
    Perhaps all The Village is a staged play put together for the benefit of the Prisoner, and all the citizens actors and actresses all brought in to play their part. They have their exits and their entrances, and in their time play different roles in different episodes.
    After all there is the “PeaceVillage” in North Korea, it looks idyllic with its brightly coloured houses, its school and hospital. But the houses are shells, there is no glass in the windows, and the electric lights are on timers, and no-one actually lives there, except the maintenance workers who give the impression of movement as though people live there. The Village is there simply for propaganda purposes, everything there is staged. And in The Village of ‘the Prisoner’ it’s a beautiful place, picturesque and almost idyllic. And yet at times there is so much staged simply for the benefit of Number 6. I personally favour that idea rather then the spotlight having a hypnotic effect, which of course it does, so it can be both.

    Regarding the “Fourth Wall Break,” no-one in ‘the prisoner’ breaks that wall!

    Best regards to you both
    David
    BCNU

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  7. Well, it does happen. And I don't have the final image of the "Girl" episode in mind when No. 6 is looking into the camera saying "Good night children, everywhere." Perhaps the only instances are two split seconds from "Fall Out" - which else! Have a look at this YT video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbGBvnbbdKA - once at 12:30, the second time at 13:15 into the film. Arguably, it's deliberate what Alexis Kanner does, looking into the camera. Because nobody on the scene is near him. There may still be other instances here which I couldn't see now. - BCNU!

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    1. Good evening Arno,
      Yes, I should have waited and thought about it! You are quite right, it does happen. The "breaking of the 4th wall," and there is perhaps no better example than when Number 6 stares into the camera and says "Goodnight children...everywhere."

      Best regards
      David
      BCNU

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    2. Interesting, he really does look directly at the viewer, especially at the first occasion. Yes, that's more like it, than the example in The Girl Who Was Death, I agree. Be seeing you!

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    3. Hello Jana,
      But an even better example is in ‘Fall Out,’ when Number 2 looks into the camera and says “Be seeing you.”

      Be seeing you
      David

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  8. Hello David,
    I am just reading the above "conversation" and it struck me that Patrick McGoohan said that he used the stage lights to separate himself from the audience...that he didn't worry about what was on the other side of the lights, just on his performance.
    Perhaps there are a lot more references to his biographical information than we know?
    His statement at the end of TGWWD TO us, the audience...was his little in-joke to us....and was part of the scene in letting Number 2 know that HE KNEW that he was being watched, even in something as simple as telling bedtime stories to children....which is, if you think about it....about what most television shows are to us all....fairy tales!
    I had noticed The Kid looking directly at the camera, but I hadn't really given it any in depth thought.

    Best Regards,
    Karen

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    1. Hello Karen,
      What you say about Patrick McGoohan is quite correct, but that’s on stage, here acting on a set no-one but the members of the production crew and film crew are watching, there is no audience as such! But you make a valid point, although in this case he’s not behind the lights, the spotlight is firmly on him!
      Yes Number 6 looked into the camera, and said to Number 2 “Goodnight children…..everywhere.” Yes he’s talking to Number 2, aware that he’s under surveillance. And yet at that moment he draws the viewer into The Village. Was Patrick McGoohan aware at the time that children would be watching? Because ‘the Prisoner’ isn’t a children’s television series, but many children were watching from October 1967 onwards.
      I had forgotten how the Kid looks directly into the camera, but then so does the President in ‘Fall Out’ when he’s making his speeches. But is he talking to the viewer or merely addressing the members of the assembly in the cavern? I have tried to think of other examples when the actor looks directly into the camera and talks to the viewer, but it’s a difficult thing to discern. One instance is in ‘Fall Out’ when Number 2 looks into the camera and says “Be seeing you.”

      Best regards
      David
      BCNU

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