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The Prisoner

13 customer reviews

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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.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness, Ronald Lewis
  • Directors: Peter Glenville
  • Producers: 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: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00018D3QE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,171 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Prisoner" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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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33 of 34 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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21 of 21 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adrianne Price on November 28, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a timeless movie. The writing and acting doesn't get any better than this. Too bad it was shut down by many film festivals when it came out. It should be on the top of everyone's list of best movies, especially for those who enjoy religioius movies, psychological study movies or BOTH!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By irishgaels on April 12, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
First I usually never give 5 stars out. Second, I like Alec Guiness as an actor as well as Jack Hawkins. So I am not completely unbiased. However, I was hoping for something a little closer to the true stories of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac and Cardinal József Mindszenty (there is actually a 1950 American film about this Cardinal called 'Guilty of Treason" which I look forward to seeing). In spite of that, there is actually quite a bit of spirituality to this film.

(Spoiler Alert)
The very humanness and genuine feeling of repentance and the need for absolution on the Cardinal's part is basic to Christianity. A true Christian does not judge another person no matter if he is a cardinal, priest, or even a pope. That kind of judgmental feeling was not shown by the people waiting for Alec Guiness as he left the prison. Also, just before he was arrested after saying Mass he told his close friend that anything coming from his incarceration through a confession/show trial was either a lie or due to human weakness. And he certainly fell into the second category. But that's what the mercy of Christ is all about, right?

As a Catholic I liked this movie very much. Hopefully we will see more dramas along these lines particularly ones based on real persons (like the aforementioned Cardinals, one of which was made a saint by Pope John Paul II). Church history is full of really fascinating stories about, saints. martyrs, early church fathers, Doctors of the Church (e.g. St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas), etc. I only wish there were more Christian producers/writers/ filmmakers to show the richness of Church history and its impact on World (particularly Western) Civilization .

Cheers.
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