The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'the prisoner'
The true story of an orangutan named Ken Allen:
Ken Allen was born in captivity at the San Diego Zoo in 1971. During the 1980s, Ken Allen gained worldwide attention for a series of three escapes from his enclosure, which had been thought to be escape-proof. During his escapes, first on June 13, 1985, again on July 29, 1985, and on August 13, 1985, Ken Allen would peacefully stroll around the zoo looking at other animals, and never acted violently or aggressively towards zoo patrons or other animals. Zookeepers were initially stymied over how Ken Allen had managed to escape. They began surveillance of his enclosure to try to catch him in the act, only to find that Ken Allen seemed to be aware that he was being watched for that very purpose. This forced zookeepers to go "undercover", posing as tourists to learn Ken Allen's escape route, but Ken Allen wasn't fooled.I imagine, seen from Ken Allen's point of view, his predicament would be not too far from Patrick McGoohan's Number 6 in The Prisoner: kept captive in an ostensibly pleasant though distinctly unreal and unfree environment, by powerful, omniscient captors whose intentions are unknown, and gradually finding holes in their panopticon, patiently piecing together a plan and then making a bid to escape, before being confronted with the absurdity of his situation and the power of his captors.
More details have emerged of the remake of The Prisoner: As well as Jesus playing Number 6 and Gandalf playing Number 2, Portmeirion has been replaced as The Village by the Namibian city of Swakopmund, a German colonial city in Namibia.
Instead of rebooting the influential series in Portmeirion, Wales, where the initial narrative took place, Hopkins and Hurran transplanted the action to Namibia, specifically the strange colonial German village of Swakopmund. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and inhospitable desert on the other three, the location worked perfectly to evoke The Village's dual identities. It's a nice place to visit, sure, but you'd never want to be imprisoned there.A German-style city in Africa replacing an Italianate town in Wales sounds like a reasonable swap. The story also mentions that the new Prisoner is meant to be a topical thriller in a world of "terrorism and technology". Well, at least it's not going to be all about celebrity sexploitation or something.
Meanwhile, Patrick McGoohan, who played the original Number 6, has passed away.
More news has emerged about the remake of the TV series The Prisoner. It's being made by ITV, not Sky One (for whatever that's worth), and promises to "reflect 21st century concerns and anxieties such as liberty, security and surveillance", rather than merely being a vehicle for trashy celebrity sexploitation as was rumoured. Sir Ian McKellen will play Number 2, with Jim "Christ" Caveziel being Number 6. It is not clear whether any of it will be filmed in Portmeirion.
On a tangent: an architect claims that Portmeirion appears three times larger than it actually is, due to its complexity, being what he calls a "fractal town":
"Distances will therefore seem smaller in places where people look at their feet and there is lots of traffic. We can use this to make space from nothing. It would seem that vastly more information is absorbed during a walk in Portmeirion than it is in Manchester."
He said previous studies in the US had indicated that our vision expects the world to be fractal. "This may explain why non-fractal environments such as car parks feel oppressive," he said.
It looks like they're remaking The Prisoner. The new series is not going to be set in Portmeirion and is not going to have "the arty 'pop' feel of the original". Given that the remake is being done by Sky One, (News Corporation's mass-entertainment network and "the chavs' favourite channel" according to media troll and self-styled chav Julie Burchill), we can probably expect something between 24-style patriotic action thrillers and celebrity-sexploitation reality TV; in other words, unsubtle, lowbrow, cheap and of little interest to those who liked the original series.
A while ago, I picked up the box set of The Prisoner, and have been gradually making my way through the episodes I hadn't seen, one at a time.
I recently watched the episode titled "The Girl Who Was Death", which features a mad scientist who thinks he's Napoleon. As I watched it, I found myself thinking about the old cliché of delusionally insane people thinking that they're Napoleon. It seems to pop up a lot in films, TV and other media of a certain age (Looney Tunes cartoons, for example), tapering off around the 1960s (though still making the occasional appearance, in things like Highlander sequels); and there even was a famous pop song referencing it. Nowadays, one doesn't hear about nuthouses full of Napoleons; more modern sufferers of delusions are apparently more likely to think they're Jesus; either that (I once heard) or superheroes or ninjas or such.
I imagine that this has to do with the historical figure of Napoleon having cast a much longer shadow earlier in this century than he does now. When Napoleon loomed large in the public consciousness, a padded cell probably looked a lot like Saint Helena. It wouldn't surprise me if the I-think-I'm-Napoleon cliché was an old Vaudeville device or similar, dating back well before World War 2 (which somewhat demoted the French emperor's standing in the league of scourges of Europe), and the mass-media-saturated post-war world (whose brighter, more vivid archetypes undoubtedly displaced 18th-century history books from the public consciousness).
The ever-shifting landscape of public image affects how we see things. For one, the villain in The Girl Who Was Death reminded me of none other than Xeni Jardin.
Mediterranean drinking and café cultures may so far have eluded Britain; however, a scientist at University College London says that Britain will have to adopt mediterranean-style siestas by the second half of the century to help people cope with global warming and prevent them from dropping like flies as the mercury increasingly hits the 40s.
An artist's impression of a British siesta, circa 2060.
Which is odd, because Australia (and, I believe, the US south) keep Anglo-Saxon working hours and have quite hot days in summer. Either British temperatures are expected to exceed current Australian temperatures significantly, or the Australian solution of installing air conditioners everywhere has been ruled out (perhaps because there won't be enough fossil fuels to power air conditioners by then?)