The Servant

The Servant

classified 12A

Celebrating Slocombe


Please note: This was screened in July 2016

Joseph Losey
Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Miles, Wendy Craig
115 mins, 1963, UK

A sinister manservant begins a series of psychological games in an attempt to gain superiority over his wealthy upper-class employer in this psychological class war drama from Joseph Losey and Harold Pinter.

Dirk Bogarde stars in one of his finest roles as Hugo, the manservant hired by young, wealthy Tony (James Fox) to keep his household in order. Things begin to dramatically change, however, as Hugo slowly, and clinically, starts to take control of Tony's life: financially, mentally and physically.

Douglas Slocombe's BAFTA-winning cinematography is a classic example of how to manipulate light and shadow to represent the mental state of characters. The Servant was a different experience for Slocombe as nearly all of the film was set within the claustrophobic confines of a single house (it was an actual set within Ealing and yet due to his cinematography you truly believe you are in a rather comfortable bachelor pad in Chelsea). Slocombe and Losey's collaboration also brought about one of the most iconic scenes in 1960s British film: that image of the sweaty ferocity of Bogarde reflected in a convex mirror. An intense masterpiece of British cinema, let's play master and servant one more time...