The Prisoner (Miniseries) (2009)

Actors: Jim Caviezel, Ian McKellen, Hayley Atwell, Ruth Wilson, Lennie James
Directors: Nick Hurran
Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, Subtitled, NTSC
Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English, French
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 3
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: March 23, 2010
Run Time: 288 minutes



Not a prison drama as the title might lead newbies to expect, but the remake – or rather “reimagination” (to use Hollywoodese) - of a cult 1960s spy / sci-fi TV series of the same name . . .

A man played by Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ, Outlander) known only as Six wakes up in the desert with no idea of who he is or how he got there.

He stumbles across “The Village” – it looks more like a resort really - a settlement literally in the middle of nowhere where everyone is known by numbers instead of real names. The inhabitants also have no recollection of their lives before they came to the village. It however seems that everyone is under surveillance and that Six can trust no-one, especially Two (Ian McKellen) who seems to be running the whole show.

It is clear that Six is a prisoner, but just who is he? Why exactly is he there? And what is The Village?

More literal-minded viewers will be happy to know that unlike the original series all these questions do get answered in this miniseries.

Fans of the original series won’t be too happy though.

The original series had quite an impact on popular culture (you know something is of cultural importance when The Simpsons go to the trouble of lampooning it). It is however difficult to see this remake ever having a similar impact.

The original series had quite an anti-authoritarian streak: in each episode Six made an asshole of authority (in the guise of Two), even if he didn’t manage to escape. The series investigated countercultural issues such as individualism vs. collectivism amongst others that are typical of the ‘Sixties. (“I am a not a number,” Six would intone. “I am a free man.”) The series seemed to suggest that we are all prisoners of society.

This remake has been stripped of all ideology. After all, in our post-Thatcher times individualism at the expense of the collective is OK as long it is to make money, right? It has also been stripped of the original ‘Sixties setting even though some sequences are still pretty downright weird and dream-like for mainstream audiences.

THE DISC: Six one-hour episodes are spread over two discs.

The third disc contains only special features. They are worth checking out if you’re interested just where exactly the series was shot. In the original series The Village appeared to be an ordinary small English town. In the remake it is set in a surreal real-life vacation resort in the middle of the Namibian desert replete with dusty roads and palm trees. Interiors were filmed in Cape Town.

The Comic Con panel featurette is boring, but we just loved Ian McKellen going “dah-ling” in the short interview co-star Jamie Campbell Bower has with the X-Men and Lord of the Rings star.

WORTH IT? Taken on its own terms, this remake isn’t too bad. The chances are that most people (especially those who haven’t seen the original series) will keep on watching the series even if it is just to find out what the hell is going on! [SPOILERS!] More sharp-eyed viewers will however probably guess the whole “brain in a jar” denouement and the more ideologically minded amongst us will probably decry this as the series in which Six becomes The Man! [END SPOILERS!]



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).