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The Prisoner


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Product Details

  • Actors: Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Wilfrid Lawson, Kenneth Griffith, Jeanette Sterke
  • Directors: Peter Glenville
  • Writers: Bridget Boland
  • Producers: Sydney Box, Vivian Cox
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, Georgian
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 2, 2004
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00018D3QE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,324 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Prisoner" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Two legendary actors at the height of their careers face off in a film so controversial that both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals banned it. Following World War II, a strong-willed cardinal (Academy Award winner Alec Guinness, 1957 Best Actor, THE BRIDGE OVER RIVER KWAI) is arrested as a traitor to the state. His will is strong, but so is that of his inquisitor (Jack Hawkins), a seemingly benevolent man who uses oily charm to lure the cardinal into speaking freely. The interrogator eventually resorts to false evidence, dirty tricks and cruelty. Months pass, and the cardinal's spirit seems impossible to break. As the interviews become increasingly hostile, the captors turn to the last bastion of the immorally powerful: torture. Eventually the cardinal is exploited and destroyed. A tale for all times, all beliefs, and once witnessed, impossible to forget. THE PRISONER is a bold example of corruption, power and faith.

Customer Reviews

Looks very real in every aspect.
S. Marquez- Fernandez
I find his interpretations of Catholic Heirarchy really accurate: they are men before they are men of God.
M. wheat
This is a wonderful film with superb performances by both Guinness and Hawkins.
Michael J. Conrad

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Sir Alec gives a riveting performance as an imprisioned cardinal psychologically tortured into questioning himself and his beliefs circa WWII. Jack Hawkins is the perfect foil to witness and instigate Guinness' character's slow deterioration of mind and spirit. In the process, Hawkins' character begins to question his own humanity. Deeply moving and beautifully done. A great study into the mind of man and the dance between good and evil.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Cory D. Slipman on February 3, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
"The Prisoner" is an underappreciated yet nonetheless superb and gripping drama revolving around two outstanding British actors Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins. Guinness plays a austere and principled cardinal in an unnamed Eastern European country. His views are apparently not in line with those of the state. He is arrested by the police to be psychologically tortured by interrogator Jack Hawkins. Hawkins must break down the resolve of the impenetrable Guinness so as to have him renounce his beliefs during a well publicized trial.

The dialogue between the men causes both to question their convictions as the lines between prisoner and interrogator becomes muddled.

The acting by both Hawkins and Guinness is at an extremely high level of professionalism. British character actor, Wilfrid Lawson, playing the jailer also gives a very effectine performance.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Edward L. Creamer on April 3, 2007
Format: DVD
This movie, now 52 years old, is a still classic in every sense. It tells the story of a situation painfully similar to the real ordeal involving Cardinal Mindzenty. The dedication of the Cardinal (Guinness) to his post is valiant and the unending attack by the accuser (Hawkins) is engrossing. Guinness and Hawkins were 2 of the finest actors in the past century and they rose to peak performances in this work. PLUS all of the background represented the prevailing atmosphere in parts of post- WWII Europe very well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Marquez- Fernandez on March 7, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Very good interpretation, as usual, of A. Guinness. This movie remembers the real history of Cardenal Wichinsky on times of the brutal dictatorship under J.Stalin over the countries of the Iron Courtain. Looks very real in every aspect.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 22, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
Wonderful acting. Foreshadowing trajic real life death of Jack Hawkins. The Cardinal down trodden, held in captivity, brainwashed, and abused rises through psychological catharsis to prevail over his "analyst"/"captor".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Conrad on February 18, 2012
Format: DVD
This is a wonderful film with superb performances by both Guinness and Hawkins.

Set in an unnamed eastern European communist state post WWII, and obviously patterned on the experiences of Cardinal Mindszenty. The actors are all obviously British, and no attempt is made to adopt eastern European accents. This sometimes gives the impression that we are viewing an alternative history view of post WWII Britain which fell to communism.

It's also interesting to speculate on the influence this film may have had on the celebrated 1960s series of the same name, starring Patrick McGoohan. Like the Cardinal's character, Number 6 was persistently interrogated using psychological techniques in addition to force (in the TV series, by a rotating series of interrogators (the Number 2s), often superficially friendly and with a disarming frankness (like Hawkins' character)), as they attempted to gain knowledge of the protagonist's past. The interrogator himself lives in fear of his own commanders, and lives under the threat of punishment if he fails to produce a confession. Both interrogator and interrogated joust intellectually, with one attempting to avoid psychological disintegration and the other trying to avoid the displeasure of his superiors.

I've never heard this discussed, but it would seem likely that McGoohan (as both an actor working in the British film industry at the time of its release, and as a lifelong Catholic) would have seen the film and possibly been influenced by it.

This is a film that is not well known but is well worth seeing on its own, and also by fans of McGoohan's TV series as a possible prototype for many of its themes.
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