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Joseph Losey's Work

He knows who Graham is, and he knows Graham is after him. Yet, he keeps Graham nearby, watching him and--he thinks--controlling him.

Graham, for his part, is a man with no control at all. He has failed in his life so completely that he seems an unlikely candidate to do anything for his son. Yet, he undertakes the task with a single-mindedness that is ultimately unstoppable. The obsession this father has for saving his son overcomes his natural tendency to hide from life in a bottle. Finally, he has to surrender his life to save his son's, a sacrifice that also becomes an inversion of the expected outcome for his son--that is, what was supposed to be the last day in the young man's life becomes the last day in his father's life.

What truly reflects Losey's approach in this film is the atmosphere that is created, an atmosphere which entails an oppressive social setting challenged by an individual who tries to rise above the limitations placed on him. Losey's films often involve power relations and shifts in the center of power. The Servant (1963), for instance, involves a power struggle between master and servant. In this film, the struggle takes place in a narrow setting, in the single household of the British gentleman, with the head of the house struggling to maintain control against his manservant. The two women who visit the household upset its balance, but in any case the power struggle would continue between the two men as ideas of what constitutes power are explored. Tony, the head of the household, is in fact completely helpless when left on his own, and though he is ostensibly the one in power because he has the money and position, it is the manservant, Barrett, who can actually do things. In the structure of the film, there is a shift in power that is clear and unsettling. The two maintain the usual sense of decorum between master and servant in the first half. When Tony feels Barrett has betrayed him, he l...

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Joseph Losey's Work. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:20, August 17, 2017, from
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