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The Village Idiot is a French Prisonerbook compiled and produced by Patrick Ducher who is the editor of the French Prisoner magazine

In his introduction he states "The objective of L'Idiot was very ambitious, the reader will discover the architecture of the series,how it started, what proceeded its construction and how it became a monumentwhen it was finished".

Patrick's research has taken three years, he has gatheredinformation and stored it on 'Centre Documentaire du Prisoner' (CDP).This computer data base gradually expanded with newspaper and magazineclippings, information from both written and audio interviews, commentsand discussions to finally form the basis for L'Idiot as the bookis affectionately known. The CDP accumulated, stored and analysed 1500written references, plus 200 audio documents, videos and discs, from thisvast reference Patrick planned his eight section book which covers allaspects of The Prisoner.

The book then took a further year to write and producein its finished form.

The first section deals with the conceptionof The Prisoner series, the part that George Markstein played inthe early ideas for the scripts. He was introduced to Patrick McGoohanas a possible script writer because of his knowledge of the secret service,amassed from his years as a journalist and crime reporter. His input ofthe idea of an enclosed community similar to the prisoner of war camps,which made use of holiday camps as a means of internment. The inspiredchoice of Portmeirion as the background to the series has also been claimedto belong partly to Markstein. After seeing an article in the Sunday Timeshe spent a holiday in the village, a time which he remembered when lookingfor a background for this sort of plot.

Part Two, looks at the actual filming of ThePrisoner, the studio at MGM, visits to Portmeirion, the scripts andtheir writers. A section includes all the technical aspects of the filming,the music, cameras, sets and accessories. It tells how the film taken atPortmeirion was sent for processing at Rank Laboratories in London andthen 'the rushes' were quickly returned to be viewed at 'The Coliseum'cinema in Porthmadog. These viewing arrangements were made between DavidTomblin and the proprietors of Paramount Pictures in Welshpool, The cinemawas made available each evening from eleven p.m., including weekends, fromSeptember 1966 through till March the following year. Details of the musicand the script writers appears in the section complete with all the namesand dates. The section concludes with promotional press releases and adescription of a press conference organised shortly before transmissionof The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan was present dressed in his longred Kosho robe attended by people dressed in village costumes who handedout the refreshments. It tells how he conducted the conference from behindthe bars of the cage used in Fall out . "When McGoohan was asked thesignificance of the cage he gave a non-committal answer and then proceededto ask the journalists what THEY thought of the episode! When asked anythingelse he responded to the questions by asking more questions!"

Part Three. This section details each episode withdates of first showing, script writers and directors and a list is givenof the principle actors. Included are details of changes made during thefilming from the original scripts. i.e. In 'Its your funeral', number 2is speaking on the telephone and assures (Number 1 ) "that it is goinglike clockwork" a reference to the clock maker, this line did notexist in the original script. Lots of interesting differences appear here!

Part Four. After Fall Out, deals with the reactionof the press and the public to the final episode. One hundred and fiftyfurious phone-calls were made to ATV after its showing. A mass of lettersfrom unhappy viewers followed. Many points of view are put forward here,some find the series magnificent while others loathe it, certainly thefinal episode is not an easy one to understand.This section concludes withdetails of other projects that people pursued after The Prisoner.

Part Five. French Adaptation. The French versionwas not a always a true reproduction of the original. The Prisonerwas first shown in February 1968 in black & white. It was usual atthat time, in France, to buy the series in blocks of twelve episodes, withThe Prisoner, thirteen were brought and shown, the others remainedunavailable to the French viewers until twenty years later with the increasedavailability of video! The episodes not shown were:- Living In Harmony,Dance Of The Dead, Once Upon A Time and Do Not ForsakeMe, Oh My Darling. What tragedy!!! Many things were altered in thetranslation from English to French. A lot was lost in the subtleties, evenin the title. i.e. Living In Harmony became Gentle Music,Hammer into Anvil became plain Hammer and Anvil, not quitethe same methinks! In Free For All when The Prisoner wasasked "In your spare time, if you get it, what will you do?"The Prisoner replies in the French version "Nothing except amuse ourselves"not quite so political as "Less work - more play!" It would appearfrom Patrick`s work that there were many changes made during the translation.Some changes were understandable, nursery rhymes used in Once Upon ATime were altered to French songs rather that just translating fromthe English. Other things have however altered the meaning of the originalscript, maybe they felt that the sardonic humour would not translate properly,unfortunately the loss was great.

Part Six gives the reader a profile of PatrickMcGoohan, his early life and work, through to Dangerman and ThePrisoner excerpts from the Troyer interview and comments from otherpeople aquatinted with him. Information is also given on what he has beendoing since The Prisoner.

Part seven. This section looks at the effects thatThe Prisoner has had. The beginning of Six of One with founder membersDave Barrie, Judie Admason, Eris Sapiets, Roger Goodman, Roger Langleyand Max Hora. It looks at the effect that The Prisoner has had onPortmeirion, The Prisoner Shop, the curious visitor and the conventioneach year!

Part Eight. And now, a universal village? The discussions go on, the themes of village life are relived in each mans struggle, universitypapers have been written with their bases in The Prisoner. Thereare books, magazines, documentaries, musical references, Prisoner technology,cordless phones, surveillance cameras and credit cards. Life after ThePrisoner.

Conclusion. L'Idiot du Village is a book of manywords, if you want information then it is here waiting, in French. PatrickDucher has suggested that an English version would be made available IFenough interest is shown (So write now!) I foundthe book both entertaining (I could not put it down) and informative. Onlyan idiot would miss it !!!

Thanks to Christine Jacks for this English review.

For any infirmation, please contact Patrick Ducher: CDP, BP 2046, 69616 Villeurbanne Cedex, France.

To order l'Idiot du Village, rendez-vous on the boutique du rÔdeur...

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Dernière mise à jour le 6 juillet 2002.