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Friday, 26 July 2013

The Prisoner Under The Spotlight

    Number 6 likes His Dream. That's what he tells No.2 of ‘Dance of the Dead’, who warns him that if he insists on living a dream he may be taken for mad. "I like my dream" No.6 tells her. "Then you are mad" she tells him.
   But what exactly is No.6's dream? On the evening of ‘Dance of the Dead’ No.6 is down on the beach looking for a sign from his world, a light, boat, a plane. No.6 pines for his world, but the village is his world, and the dream he is now living. So is No.6 mad, well not according the Psychiatrists records in ‘Hammer Into Anvil.’ But if the village is a dream, simply in one man's head, then he either is mad, or its a terrible case of self-persecution! Either that or one man's journey of self-discovery. And if the latter is the case, what exactly have we learned?
   'Many Happy Returns,' is an episode which reflects the vicious circle that is the Prisoner. A circle within a circle you might say. At the beginning of ‘Arrival’ we have a grimaced faced man behind the wheel of his Lotus 7. Then after escaping the village in 'Fall Out,' the Prisoner returns to London, and soon after which, we see that same grimaced faced man behind the wheel of his Lotus 7, and still as much a prisoner as ever he was. Because "In his end, is the Prisoner's beginning!" And likewise it is with the episode of ‘Many Happy Returns.’ No.6 escapes from a seemingly deserted village. He makes a perilous journey back to London, soon after which No.6 is unceremoniously returned to the village at the very place of his departure. The Prisoner has been brought full circle, and is still as much a prisoner as he was, before the day he made his escape!
        'Fall Out,' as I have said that 'Fall Out' is really the only logical ending such a surreal series could have. But then again I think McGoohan could have come up with something a little more original. I mean when No.6 meets No.1 - himself, well that's been so over-done. Both literature and films are littered with scenes where doppelgangers meet one another. From a desterted railway platform in The Midnight Express, to the Conan Doyle's Crockon Sands. From The Schizoid Man to the man who haunted himself, even Edgar Allen Poe's William Wilson met and had a conversation with himself! And really all McGoohan was doing was repeating himself, he did it once in the 'Danger Man' episode 'The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove' in which John Drake met with his other self, and had a fight scene with himself, as indeed he did in ‘The Schizoid Man.
    There Never was A Number 1! How was Patrick McGoohan going to wrap it up ‘Once Upon A Time,’ to solve the question of who Number 1 is? According to Tony Sloman, Film Librarian on the Prisoner says that McGoohan was never going to solve the question. There never was a Number 1. Pat McGoohan was Number 1. We were all Number 1. There was never a Number 1. The extra shots were never there on the original. That was the end. Because ‘Once Upon A Time’ was originally just another episode, being one of the early written episodes. The piece at the end, where the Supervisor asks No.6 what he desires? To which No.6 replies "No.1" was later added.

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