"The Prisoner" is a claustrophic subect as the title would suggest.Throughout history it can be seen how during revolution those that take over are often personally obsessed with the idea of breaking the spirit of their enemies. Notably in the C20th religious people often are earmarked for such attention. this is the theme and plot of the film. It is often a theme or plot in cinema that reoccurs through the decades.
Another but of course updated plot, is that of the biography of Pope John Paul II "Karol - A man who became Pope" only his interrogator is a Communist Komrad Polish Commissar but this fasination of 'spiritual wills battling' is explored wonderfully in "The Prisoner".
For fans of the 30s & 40s British black and white films it is interesting, though unsettling to see Jack Hawkins, in the role of a 'baddie' and the exploration between Hawkins as the Nazi interrogator and Guinness as the prisoner works really well.
The plot is heightened I think, because one is so used to seeing Hawkins as the RN Army or RAF officer a 'good fellow' and it is this which adds a sense and dynamic of extra menace to the plot. As one has to feel perhaps, a little bit like the prisoner must have, when wondering 'how could one man do this to another' and with such civility as interrogators often use along with vicious flashes and with such verve.
It is a haunting film and made in the days when the studios didn't have the remit enforced that 'people need a lift an up at the end - a happy ending' - life isn't like that. Nor is this film.
Yes, the priest is released and has held on but it is not with a sense of 'winning' that we watch him walk to the outside and to his 'freedom' - it is as one becomes, when presented and confined to the energy of evil intent; intimidation and threats, formalised and circulated defamation the realisation is brutal - a man who has survived but now is a completely different man who now carries within him such knowledge from such an experience. An interesting and powerful film but it haunts you. Not a first date after dinner film that is for sure!