Wednesday, January 23, 2013

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Servant (1963) - Creepy Invasion of Personal Space

[Quick Summary: A new servant takes over his employer's life, and becomes a menace.]

I'm very keen on writer's "must read" recommendations.

However, when the playwright Harold Pinter (1930-2008) was suggested, I procrastinated.

I knew very little about him, and his obituary was intimidating:
- "provocative"
- "vigorous political polemicist,"
- "[H]e spawned the adjective "Pinteresque" suggesting a cryptically mysterious situation imbued with hidden menace."

I finally ran out of excuses.

The Servant starts off innocently, and then it really spooked me.

Barrett, a manservant, comes to work for his employer Tony.  Barrett is ideal, until he stealthily isolates Tony.

It's little things at first.

ex. Barrett interrupts Tony and girlfriend Susan during an intimate moment.

Then it becomes more devious.

ex. Barrett brings his girlfriend Vera into the house as a maid. Vera seduces Tony.  Did Barrett orchestrated it or not?

Then it becomes horrible.

ex. Barrett keeps Tony drugged and dependent. Tony has no idea how much he has lost.

Barrett is a psychological menace.  He moves into Tony's personal space one step at a time, until there is none.

Tony is oblivious to how Barrett is destroying him...and that makes it ten times more creepy.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: A psychological drama/thriller can be as simple as playing with personal space. 

The Servant (1963)
Adapted by Harold Pinter
Based on the novel by Robin Maugham

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