Sunday, October 07, 2012

Some thoughts on The Prisoner episode "Free For All"

“Free For All”

This is a heinous plan because they even disguise who #2 really is, starting with the opening sequence being read by a generic actor and not the male #2.

“Everybody votes for a dictator.”

I usually preface this episode when I teach it with the Zimbabwe elections of the past dozen or so years.
The close-ups on the faces of the crowd show no real enthusiasm towards #2; in fact, they only start their adulation when he waves his hand. The idea of cue cards is just amazing. That’s what it feels like when I watch some speeches during election campaigns.

When the crowd laughs after #6 says, “I am not a number; I am a person,” I think the crowd finally shows real emotion. Usually they are just zombies going through the motions. But here they start to shut up and stare when he reveals the truth that they once felt. You can see basic shame on some of their faces. I think this was masterfully done.

The immediate poster of #6 is amazing.

I love the newspaperman and photographer combination of #113 and #113B. The news is printed before he says anything!

What is the secret cabal in the town hall? Amazing. “They were here when I arrived,” #2 says. #6 is allowed to question them but they don’t say a single word--but he was able to question them.

“Why don’t you put us all in solitary confinement until you get what you’re after?”

“Brainwashed imbeciles!”

Down at the test, the contradictions blend until he understands both--like Orwell with his paradoxes of War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery. When we actually understand those things, we buy into them, falling for them. I mean, we all understand how these paradoxes work, but when you actually believe them, you’re bought and sold. I understand how War brings about Peace from coming together as one side, like during World War II and after 9/11. But to seek War simply to bring about Peace at home is sick, to me anyway but not to some people who want to be in power. What better way to divert attention with problems at home than to start problems with others far away--and you’re unpatriotic if you don’t stand with us.

Then #6 starts spouting political Hallmark cards--gibberish and gobbledygook that is exactly what the people want to hear. They are empty phrases of political jargon. This always hits me every four years.

When #6 wins, the crowd is now silent. He is one of them now, the opposition. It’s like being excited for your political candidate and then just a few months later hating his policies.

Are those men worshiping the Rover? Not that the guards manage to hold him twice in a Jesus Christ pose. Here is everyman, taking it all on him for us.

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