John Fowles ground breaking book about a dysfunctional english social recluse ,who collects butterflies is adapted by "William Wyler" and 'Stanley Mann' into a simplistic narrative ,where the collector only relates the story, while the book narrates the diaries of both the victim and the collector.
After winning a fortune at lottery ,Clegg played by Terence Stamp as the collecter ,acquires a huge country estate and in a carefully planned abduction ,kidnaps Miranda[Samantha Eggar] ,an aristocratic English art student ,whom he worships and is obsessed with since he was an anonymous ,non-descript ,bullied child in a school in Reading .
Miranda like his cherished butterfly collection is only an item or a trophy to satiate his deprived past ;a consequence of his lower social class ,and he is determined to preserve ,pampere ,indulge and imprisone her in a cellar as a posession that is a prize that he wants for the sake satisfying his ravaged ego .
The movie is a comment on the socially created class divisions which segregate humanity and thus ruthlessly mock human equality, as Clegg righteously claims that if not for his radical kidnap stunt ,Miranda would never have even glanced at him, as he was nothing but an insect like the butterflies, in her beautiful and precious world of pretentious art and wealthy hierarchy ,who treat people like Clegg as a mere convenience in a patronising contempt .
The discussion proceeds as the sophisticated script enfolds and the two grow to develop a mutual fondness after their articulate discussions and arguments which define theophosiphical and intellectual paradigms and yet Miranda has only one goal , to achieve her freedom .
Clegg does not perceive her as imprisoned but as a treasured cherished guest and tries to please her with every indulgence and at no time is she terrorised or maligned.
Wyler has defined the desperation and helplessness of Miranda in Samantha Eggar's posthumous performance from her perspective ,where she goes from being a terrified prisoner to a bewildered bereaved victim who realises she is a lost cause like the "preserved butterfly collection" of clegg ,who is a beneficiary of his social circumstances given the power to acquiesce his desires by the gift of wealth alone .
The ideology that wealth is an evil that begets power for the psychotic is obvious, but it also is highlighting the aspect of the patronising contempt which Miranda and her class practice towards the working classes .
The movie has enough emotion and intellect to immortalise Wyler ,Eggar and Stamp forever and the vision of arrogance ,acquisition and desire are juxtaposed with beauty ,art and divinity in all the positive and negative aspects of the final equation .
The best adaptatation of a Fowler book ever which is a chilling reminder of how frail human existence is as it is compared here to the beauty of the exotic butterflies which Clegg imports ,hatches and then impales at their prime to preserve in a glass jar .
This is where art meets psychological complexity and an obscure terrain where the answers are left to the subject viewing the art as indeed all art is subjective .
Miranda tries to escape ,she even offers sex which repels Clegg even more and evolves the script into an undefined metaphysical sphere where the two characters are locked in an stalemate of pure frustration like humanity itself in it's existential dilemma .
But there is no doubt about the exquisite and haunting emotions this evokes in your mind about existence as you empathise with both the stalker and the victim who are both justified in their own stance as they are acting out of their human instincts to persevere and survive .
Yet the role of the society that has created them in their flawed existence is the provocative debate and it is as relevant today as it was in stone age because it questions the creation of civilisation itself and accrues the injustice suffered by human spirit to the flaws of our own creation .
When it does that it virtually merges the most important question of where and how justice is served in the human civilisation and how is it perceived and whether it is just as subjective as art and religion itself .