Discuss the ways in which the manager, Joseph Losey, may be said to hold authored anxiousness in his movieThe Servant( 1963, ) paying peculiar attending to the usage of mirrors and lenses in the movie.

The retaineris a complex movie that can non be easy summarised although a good effort has been made by James Palmer and Michael Riley.

“The cardinal struggle inThe retainerexposes the chesty, self-indulgent corruptness of a privileged category dependent on working an lower class whose obsequiousness is but a thin head covering for long standing bitternesss and desires. But the movie goes beyond an indictment of societal or category unfairnesss, and beyond melodrama every bit good in its flooring narrative of a maestro and servant reciprocally destroyed.” ( Palmer & A ; Riley, 1993, p44 )

In conformity with this description the movie can possibly be best described as a psycho-drama with the narrative thrust of the movie being the balance of power in the relationship between the servant Hugo Barrett ( Dirk Bogarde ) and the maestro, Tony ( James Fox. ) Barrett is a scheming and manipulative character somewhat kindred to Shakespeare’s Iago. He subtly imposes his ain will on his maestro. Tony isnouveau richeand idle, he does non look to hold to work for his money.

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Much of the narrative tenseness comes from a deficiency of information refering Barrett’s true purposes and the motivations behind his interventions in Tony’s life. The sense of anxiousness stems from the fact that the audience and Barrett are in a place of privilege and are privy to information that is denied to Tony. The audience is concerned for Tony to detect Barrett’s intrigues.

This essay will look at the manner Losey employs many ocular fast ones to maintain the audience one narrative measure in front of Tony to keep tenseness ; whilst at the same clip reaffirming Barrett’s function as premier adversary as a subject through tonic dramatic imagination.

The movie opens with the two work forces foremost run intoing at Barrett’s occupation interview. Despite the formality of such an juncture, Barrett instantly finds a manner to go an intrusive force and transgress his boundaries as a invitee in another’s place. He arrives at the house to happen the door unfastened and no 1 to reply it. He lets himself into the house to happen Tony asleep in a deckchair. Barrett moves fleetly and stealing to the full through the house pull offing to come in the room in which Tony sleeps without waking him. Barrett so disturbs Tony from his slumber. His entryway into Tony’s place is intrusive and uninvited, it is besides a prefiguration of the manner in which Barrett will subtly pull strings and hijack Tony’s life.

It is besides of import to detect that the house is barren of trappingss when Barrett enters it. It is barren of all trappingss spare the deckchair, and is painted wholly white. Tony relies on Barrett’s oculus for interior ornament to name the house with trappingss and decor. The mise-en-scene is hence a contemplation of Barrett’s ego, as he begins to adorn the house to his ain gustatory sensations. The mise-en-scene so becomes a changeless reminder of Barrett’s decelerate, crawling invasion in the house, go forthing the spectator dying to see if he will be discovered.

One of the cardinal points of Barrett ‘s trappingss is the convex mirrors that hang above hearths and mantle topographic points that depict a deformed contemplation of the house and its contents. Cardinal minutes of the movie are framed as contemplations in these mirrors to visually construe the play of the scene.

In the scene in which Barrett and Vera ( Sarah Miles ; ) the house amah and Barrett’s supposed sister ; are exposed as lovers the convex mirror is employed to border the action, to overthrow the functions of the characters and to increase the anxiousness.

As Barrett and Vera are called to the pulling room to reply some inquiries, Tony and his girlfriend Susan ( Wendy Craig ) take up places by a fire topographic point on the left and right of the frame severally. In between them is the mirror which reflects the full room, the door manner and the stairway taking up to the Masterss sleeping room. As Barrett and Vera measure into the room they form a trigon with the contemplation of the dorsum of Tony ‘s caput.

The scene is an chance for Tony to asseverate his authorization over his retainers. Susan and Tony are shot in near up that allow the audience entree to their emotions. However it is the position in the mirror that is far more compelling and this is what the oculus is drawn to. Within the mirrors reflection it is Vera and Barrett who face camera and as such demand attending.

It is really hard to accurately estimate the characters emotional responses on their deformed faces and it is besides about impossible acquire a sense of the distance between the characters. In such a extremely charged emotional confrontation this added sense of withdrawal suggests the possibility of the state of affairs intensifying to force.

The deformed world depicted within the mirrors contemplation is Barrett’s sphere. As such he is the dominant character in the scene, the scene is a release of the anxiousness that has built over the class of the movie as Tony realises that he has been manipulated by his ain retainer.

Immediately after the confrontation scene follows a saloon scene in which we witness the reunion of Tony and Barrett after an oval of an unknown sum of clip, ( hebdomads possibly months. ) the set uping shooting of the scene is a broad of the full saloon. Barrett sits with his dorsum to a wall that divides two subdivisions of the saloon and the right side of the frame. To the left of the frame is the entryway to the saloon signifier where Tony makes his entryway.

The framing of this shooting is such that the audience is in a privileged place in which they have a full position of the saloon that the characters do non portion. The tenseness of the scene is hence established as the audience become dying to detect if the characters will to gain that they are both in the same saloon ; and what the result of that meeting would be.

As Tony orders a drink his voice qui vives Barrett to his presence. Barrett becomes watchful and appears to gaze straight at the camera. However instead than a minute of evildoing there is a sudden pan of the camera through 180° to demo the same saloon but in contrary. We realise that we have been starring into a mirror with Barrett, efficaciously sharing his regard. The mirror has been used to give the spectator false narrative information which when revealed as hypocrite wholly changes the kineticss of the scene. The omnipotence of the witnesss regard was in actuality the omnipotence of Barrett’s regard.

The place of privilege is removed from the audience and Barrett one time once more becomes the dominant factor of the narrative. He is once more pull stringsing the infinite that he inhabits with Tony. Barrett takes control of the state of affairs by uncovering himself to Tony as opposed to acquiring found out. Although this diffuses the narrative tenseness and anxiousness of the scene, the tenseness and anxiousness of the movies overall narrative discharge is re-established as Barrett has found a manner back into Tony’s house and is one time once more able to asseverate an influence over him.

The through current of anxiousness and narrative tenseness turns to express desperation in the concluding scene of the movie as the movies discharge is realised and the stoping is non a happy 1. The miss-en-scene, illuming, bordering and lensing all come together in the movies climactic minutes to exemplify the strength of Barrett’s laterality over Tony.

The scene depicts what is fundamentally a drug fuelled binge in the chief bedroom of the house. The room itself is mostly unfastened program with door arches and angled walls. A elephantine mirror wholly covers one wall exposing a contemplation of the full room. There are besides smaller mirrors. The scene is illuminated preponderantly from below. This casts falsifying angular shadows over the faces of the histrions and besides across the walls and room accesss of the room. The room has a unusual and unfamiliar geographics.

The assorted points of contemplation mean that single characters can be at one time in the bow and backgrounds of the frame and either facing towards or off from camera. As such when there is more than one individual in the frame they appear to be gazing in opposite waies as if cross-purposed. This lends the scene a sense of human withdrawal which makes it hard to read what the characters are droping.

This scene is besides the vertex of Barrett’s interior design. Over the class of the movie he has been accommodating the house to reflect his ain personality and at this point the house is decorated to wholly his wishing exemplifying his entire laterality over Tony. Colin Gardner describes the tonic and thematic impact.

“Slowly but certainly Barrett metamorphoses the color strategy to accommodate his ain villainous involvements, so that by the movies end the prevailing ambiance has changed from superb Whites and blues to one of dark, heavy premonition, neatly symbolized by the switch to black dinner tapers, as if Barrett were an insinuating Lucifer in secret carry oning demonic mass.” ( Gardner, 2004 pp198-9 )

At the beginning of this scene, Tony holds to his eyes a glass domain which he peers through. Like the convex mirrors, the sphere distorts and contorts his position of the room but it besides inverts it and makes a big country wholly oblique. In this gesture he is non merely accepting Barrett’s laterality but actively advancing it by perverting his ain vision to fit the manner that Barrett sees the universe.

During the concluding shootings of the movie we see Tony as a quaking wreck on the floor of the landing. He is shot through the bars of the bannister in a clear and direct image of a adult male imprisoned in his ain place. The imagination of the scene has left the spectator in perfectly no uncertainty that in the battle between these two work forces Hugo Barrett has been winning.

The delicate narration of the psychological play inThe Servantis maintained through Losey’s employment of ocular hocus-pocus and thematic motives. The sense of anxiousness and concern for the destiny of Tony is maintained through out the movie through the changeless ocular reminders of the mise-en-scene and the motive of the convex mirrors.


Benjamin, W. ( 1992 ) Illuminations London, Fontana.

Ciment, M. ( 1985 )conversations with Losey. London: Methuen.

De Lauretis, T. ( 1984 ) Alice Does n’t. Feminism, semiologies, film. Bloomington


Gardner, C. ( 2004 )Joseph Losey. Manchester: Manchester university imperativeness.

Palmer, J & A ; Riley, M. ( 1993 )The movies of Joseph Losey. Cambridge university imperativeness.


Private Dirk Bogarde, The( Dir Adam Low, 2001, UK )

Ripley’s Game( Dir Liliana Cavini, 2002, Italy, UK, USA )

Servant, The( Dir Joseph Losey, 1963, UK )

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