Patrick McGoohan and John Thaw star in this television adaptation of John Arden's intense, powerful play, initially screened in 1961 as a Granada Play of the Week and adapted by Arden himself.
Set against a background of nineteenth-century imperialist conflict, Serjeant Musgrave's Dance is acknowledged as one of the most important works to explore the futility of ever-escalating revenge cycles and the dehumanisation of war.
In a performance considered one of his finest, McGoohan brings typical intensity to the character of Musgrave, whose maniacal attempt to confront a horrified town with the realities of war lies at the heart of the play.
Recently revived to huge acclaim in a new stage production, Serjeant Musgrave's Dance now has a timely release in DVD format - deservedly bringing this vital and compelling work to a wider audience.
Serjeant Musgrave and his small band of men arrive in an impoverished northern coal town, ostensibly on a recruiting drive; it is also suspected that they have been dispatched to break up a strike.
But Musgrave and his men are deserters, traumatised by atrocities witnessed in a nameless colonial conflict. They have brought with them the body of Billy Hicks, a soldier from the town who has been killed overseas.
Musgrave is tormented by remorse over Hick's death, and the killing of five men in a reprisal by British forces.
Now, insisting that his actions are sanctioned by the same divinely unimpeachable logic, he holds the snow-bound town hostage.
Mirroring the calculated brutality of cyclical conflict, he orders the execution of 25 townsmen - five further deaths for each of the five...