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The Prisoner (2009)

In this section we have all the latest news, and sometimes rumours, about the much anticpated AMC/ITV remake of The Prisoner.

So you can make up your own mind, we always quote our sources of information and stories.

Cult TV series The Prisoner could make a return after almost 40 years.

Sky One is said to be planning a new series inspired by the original which had Patrick McGoohan as a former secret agent trapped in an isolated town.

The show will not take place in the famous setting of the original - the north Wales village of Portmeirion - industry weekly Broadcast said.

But it is understood the themes of paranoia, conspiracy and identity crisis would remain.

Damien Timmer, who has been lined up to executive produce the show for Granada, told Broadcast the new series would take "liberties with the original" and would not retain its arty feel.

"Although it will be a radical reinvention, it will still be a heightened show," he added.

The original Prisoner ran for 17 episodes on ITV from 1967.

Bill Gallagher, the writer of the BBC's crime drama Conviction, is reported to be writing the new version.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4447216.stm

OK, OK, maybe not The Prisoner we are interested in but it seems there was a film released in 1955 called The Prisoner.

If/when they do finally make the movie version we wonder if it will be called "The Prisoner" or something else.

Here's a little information, just in case you were wondering:

# Actors: Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
# Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Dubbed, PAL
# Language English
# Region: Region 2 (This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
# Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
# Number of discs: 1
# Classification: U
# Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent. UK
# DVD Release Date: 21 Mar 2005
# Run Time: 90 minutes

 

 

With a new outing on video and DVD, and a Hollywood remake in the pipeline, Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner is the definitive piece of cult TV. But does it really deserve its reputation?

In 1967, an extraordinary television series captured the imagination as few programmes had done before. Audiences were confronted with The Prisoner, a unique mix of science fiction, action adventure, social satire and allegory. Devised by Patrick McGoohan, who also played the lead role of Number 6, The Prisoner developed into a weird, apocalyptic nightmare, a radical piece of TV which dared to probe the boundaries of what the medium's potential could be. Now, a new release of the series on video and DVD is set to captivate a whole new generation.

Set in a bizarre prison colony called The Village, Number 6, a former secret agent, is interrogated by a succession of officials known only as Number 2, in an attempt to find out why he's resigned from his top government position. Scientists use psychological conditioning, thought control and hallucinogenic drugs to try to break him, but Number 6 refuses to be "pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered" and instead puts all his time and energy into planning his escape.

However, the series concludes as it began, with no happy ending. "Freedom is a myth", said McGoohan.

The last episode, written and directed by McGoohan, completely overdosed on weirdness pills. "Fall Out" had Number 6 gunning down guards to "All You Need is Love", with no obvious answers to all the questions posed throughout the 17 episodes. On the night of transmission, thousands jammed the ITV switchboard, complaining about the incomprehensible finale.

Confused viewers had been used to seeing McGoohan as the suave secret agent John Drake in Danger Man, a more straightforward show which he had tired of by the mid-60s. He quit and relied on his popularity to persuade Lew Grade to finance The Prisoner. McGoohan had already become the highest paid actor on British television, and was even offered the role of James Bond before Sean Connery. Uninterested in good guys with guns, he turned it down - twice. As McGoohan's Prisoner co-star Alexis Kanner recalls, "Patrick was even offered a lot of money by the producers just to talk to them about playing Bond."

Whatever his intentions, the generally hostile reaction to the final episode forced McGoohan to leave the country - the ironic situation of a real fall-out between him and the television audience. He escaped to Switzerland before settling permanently in California.

Fellow Prisoner actor Kenneth Griffith thinks the enigmatic series was symbolic of McGoohan's own "resignation": "I told Patrick that he was tall and handsome and could have made millions. But he rejected the star system. I think he really didn't like being in a business which is so shallow and has such shallow values."

Over the years, McGoohan has become increasingly reclusive. At the same time, his series has attracted a new audience and become one of the most fanatically followed TV programmes of all time.

So what's happened? Well, The Prisoner has become an international cult. There's an appreciation society, a shop dedicated to the programme in Portmeirion, and annual conventions organised by dedicated fans. American students have even studied McGoohan's series as part of sociology degree courses.

The cult of The Prisoner also seems to extend to a cult of McGoohan. His refusal to give interviews only feeds the mystery and adds to his attraction. Many fans say that they've found the themes of The Prisoner in his other (rare) film appearances. For example, in 1979, Number 6 became Number 2 when he played the Chief Prison Warden in Don Siegel's Escape From Alcatraz. Again, in Mike Newell's The Man In The Iron Mask, McGoohan is the jailer, with lines like "No one must see the prisoner."

Now, more than 30 years after its initial broadcast, McGoohan could be about to come out of self-imposed isolation. The Prisoner is about to break out on to the big screen thanks to Con Air director Simon West and Universal Studios. Filming on the remake is due to get under way at Pinewood later this year.

The roots of a full-length Prisoner feature film possibly lie in the success of Peter Weir's 1998 film The Truman Show, which starred Jim Carrey, and which, for a Hollywood movie, dealt with some pretty dark Prisoneresque themes - loss of personal freedom and identity. This deceptively light-hearted film even had an authoritative Number 2-type character called Christof (Ed Harris), the creator of Seahaven, Truman's "prison", a place very similar to the Village world of cheery greetings and blue skies.

It will be interesting to see what a Hollywood director can add to the concept of The Prisoner, although it'll be no surprise if he's forced to use the same formula applied to other remakes like The Fugitive and Mission Impossible - big-budget bangs, car chases and happy endings. Nevertheless, whatever the outcome, good or bad, any remake of The Prisoner will hopefully draw attention to the original, a true work of art which deserves recognition.

Steven Paul Davies
Thursday August 17, 2000
The Guardian
The awareness of one's situation in the world has long been the subject for literature and theater. There's Cinderella, who doesn't know what we and her stepsisters know, which is that she is fated for something better than sweeping the fireplace. There's Snow White, who is unaware that she's been pegged "fairest of them all," and must suffer the consequences.

In "The Truman Show," Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) learns that all 30 years of his life have been under surveillance, providing the material for a popular television show. Unknowingly the star of this lucrative program, he's been watched by a camera everywhere he's turned for the last three decades in his idyllic hometown of Seahaven - which is actually a huge, cleverly designed television studio. All the intimate moments of his life, including his illegitimate birth, have been recorded.

He is a captive, watched 24-hours-a-day by millions around the world (Truman is big with insomniacs). When his wife, Meryl (Laura Linney, playing the part like Betty White gone mad), suggests he drink some wonderful Mocha Cocoa, she is just doing her job as a product-placement mouthpiece, hawking java to the world. Every time she makes love to her husband it is a lie.

His best friend since childhood, Marlon (Noah Emmerich), is a hired actor whose livelihood depends on the continuance of the show. Naturally, as Truman was the product of an unwanted pregnancy and the world's first baby adopted by a corporation, his mother (Holland Taylor) is also an actress, whose true feelings toward Truman are no doubt somewhat less than maternal.

Director Peter Weir, who has a gift for making sentimental pap ( "Dead Poets Society" ) palatable, uses sweetness to portray evil this time, saving this movie from being mere science fiction twaddle.

For those of us watching poor Truman muddle through his manufactured life, what feels worst about the charade is that we know that everyone around him knows he is a dupe, and that all of his dreams and wishes are doomed to failure if they threaten the continuation of the series. When Truman tries to book a flight to Fiji, the travel agent, also an actress on "The Truman Show" payroll, informs him that nothing is available. When he quietly tries to get the telephone number of the girl he loved in high school (Natasha McElhone) - an actress fired from the show because of the real attraction between her and Truman - everyone on the show, everyone on earth, knows Truman's secret.

Truman the unwanted baby has grown up in middle American bounty through the largesse of the show's creator, Christof (Ed Harris), but anything Truman tries to do that might contradict the show's predetermined plot lines will always be thwarted by Christof's police-state methods. So, Truman lives a lovely life under a fascistic thumb.

CARREY, famous for portraying idiots in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" and "Dumb and Dumber," restrains himself admirably in the role of Truman. Yes, "The Truman Show" is a comedy, but it's neither stupefying nor vulgar. Yet this is pretty brutal stuff for a breezy summer release. By holding back the trademark broad humor to prove he is a real actor, Carrey seems a bit nervous, as if he's worried that he's too bland to hold the movie together. But Truman, after all, is a bland fellow. Johnny Depp, who is the personification of charisma, might have made a more adorable hero, but Carrey does the job. He has chosen to play Truman as a wigged out Darren from

"Bewitched." That look of befuddlement hangs over his brow for most of the movie.

For my money, Carrey's best movie was "The Cable Guy" because it was so dark, and a man with Carrey's natural penchant for the plastic grimace and the easy laugh needs chilling material to check his Jerry Lewis-ness.

Like "The Prisoner," the galvanizing 1960s Patrick McGoohan television series that this movie so closely resembles, "The Truman Show" takes itself lightly enough to set up a distance from the disturbing social experiment it portrays. McGoohan played a former British agent imprisoned on a lovely island featuring open-door cells complete with maid service, nice clothes and good food. He was free to lead his life as he liked except of course that what he wanted most was to be off the island. Every attempt at escape was violently prevented. Unlike Truman, he knew he was a prisoner; he just never knew why he was held.

Working from an exceptionally good script by Andrew Niccol (the 34-year-old New Zealander wrote and directed

"Gattaca" ), Weir ( "The Year of Living Dangerously," "Witness" ) moves us seamlessly through this unusual premise, never veering from the central idea. (Weir is said to have rewritten Niccol's script extensively.)

THE MOVIE is never really surprising except when the fans of the television show watching in bars and at home begin to realize that their favorite TV personality is trying to escape his life and thus end the show they love so much. Instead of rooting for Christof (get the heavy-handed deity reference? At one point he shouts, "Cue the sun!" ) to outwit Truman and keep the show going, they cheer when Truman determines the truth and tries to escape.

"The Truman Show" is a crowd pleaser that caters to our horror of totalitarianism, our love of personal freedom, our belief - justified or deluded - that knowledge is a powerful tool and that access to information is a God-given right. I'm not sure if the movie is more disturbing because Truman is a prisoner or because he has been lied to.

In many ways, "The Truman Show" is as political as

"Bulworth," which is also a fairy tale, but a bit more subtle. In both movies, no one (but Truman) has a functioning conscience. Despite the fact that the TV show has an audience of millions of devotees, many of them sympathetic to Truman's plight, no one was able to mount a campaign to free Truman. And, I guess, the inability of the masses to rise up against tyranny is one of the movie's chief points.

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