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Tuesday 28 October 2014

A Favourite Scene In The Prisoner

  The Prisoner having woken up in what appears to be the study of his home, looks out of the window to find he’s no longer in London. He goes outside, climbs the Bell Tower {something he will later do on a daily basis}, goes to the Café, but doesn’t want breakfast. Attempts to make a telephone call, but that’s not possible because he doesn’t have a number. Then in having attempted to gain information from an electronic “Free Information” board, he takes a taxi ride. He wants to go to the nearest town, but the taxi service is only local. So the Oriental driver takes the Prisoner as far as she can, meaning as long as he turns up back where he started in the end, that’s why they’re called local.
   Well the Prisoner didn’t exactly end up back where he started, he ended up outside the General stores. Having looked in through the window, the Prisoner goes into the Emporium. The shopkeeper is busy serving a customer, who helps herself to a pineapple. No, she’s not a shoplifter, it just saved the shopkeeper time that’s all.
   The Prisoner approaches the counter and the shopkeeper bids his customer a good day, and asks what he can do for him. The Prisoner asks for a map of the area. “Colour or black and white?” It doesn’t matter to the Prisoner, he just wants a map. Not that the map tells him anything when he gets it. Yes the Map of Your Village does show everything, the mountains, the woods, various buildings. The thing is the Prisoner meant a larger map. But that’s only in colour, much more expensive. It’s a larger map alright, but of the same area, and that’s not what the Prisoner meant at all. He meant a map of a larger area. However there are only local maps, there is no demand for any others.
   The thing about The Village Map is, it doesn’t actually tell the Prisoner anything. Nothing is defined, the mountains, the sea. The map tells the Prisoner where he is, but not where he is. It is possible to ask why the need for a map of The Village in the first place, when The Village is not that large in the second place. It is unlikely that anyone would get lost in The Village. After all, have you ever seen anyone actually use a map in The Village? Yes there was that time in ‘Free For All’ when Number 6 was looking for the Town Hall, but apart from that?

Be seeing you


  1. We spoke several times about that particular scene didn't we, such as the aspect of tautology in it (the mountains called THE MOUNTAINS etc.). And yes, it is among my own favourites of the whole series. Instead of the disclosure of his whereabouts No. 6 gets a deviating, perplexing and vexing sort of (negated) information. I think it is the way this moment of potential but ultimately spoiled enlightenment ("where am I?") is presented to us that makes for its impact. You're right, we never see anybody using a map in the Village. But that wouldn't preclude there are none. The map scene, to my opinion, is directed more to the viewer than to the character here. We know dozens of films where rather sooner than later the viewer is told almost everything, and in abundance, many times in order to save narated time or perhaps because the producers simply didn’t give it a thought, the real interaction between the viewer’s mind and that of the character and the action. Any good film or series works like this. Here, I definitely feel, a masterpiece was created. – BCNU!

    1. Hello Arno,
      We have indeed spoken about that particular scene, and the Map of Your Village several times. And you are right of course, simply because we do not see anyone using a map of The Village, doesn't necessarily mean they do not. And just as much as we the viewer travel in the taxi with the Prisoner, we also share in the moment when the Prisoner attempts to discover his whereabouts. And at the time, we as the viewer, are no wiser than Number 6. Well perhaps the location of The Village wasn't so much a closley guarded secret as Patrick McGoohan would have liked. After all Portmeirion was open to visitors and guests staying there. A large number of them would have witnessed the filming of 'the Prisoner,' recognised Patrick McGoohan, but not realising what was going on at the time. And yet if those people saw 'the Prisoner' on television in 1967, they would remember what they witnessed in Portmeiron. They would have taken photographs, even filming what was going on for themselves.

      Very kind regards