XL Popcorn – The Servant

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 578/1007
Title: The Servant
Director: Joseph Losey
Year: 1963
Country: UK

Whilst I would probably never find myself in the financial situation to be able to do so; I don’t think I want a manservant. It would be nice to have someone who would fill my bowl with banana chips, decorate the flat and generally flatter the ego – but it would just be weird having someone with whom such an odd relationship would exist.

Watching The Servant has further supported my notion that having ‘help’ may not be the best move for me. It tells the story of an upper class man (played by James Fox in an early role) who moves into a new house and hires himself a manservant (a fantastic Dirk Bogarde) and gets more than he bargained for.

The whole idea behind part of The Servant is the upheaval of the UK class system. From the beginning the manservant is treated with a great deal of contempt both by his employer and his employer’s fiancee (maybe this is how servants were normally treated, but for me it was hard to watch) and it is abundantly clear that the fiancee does not like the servant at all.

She is right not to like him since, as the film progresses, we see the manservant find ways to manipulate the whole relationship between himself and his employer until the roles become somewhat reversed. By the end of the film the employer is a broken man fetching drinks for the manservant… and the final sequence that this forms a part of is so delightfully creepy.

Honestly when I sat down to watch this I did not expect that I would be watching a psychological drama. Now that I know more about this film I wish it could have been shot with the original plot intact where the manservant blackmailed his employer for being a homosexual (still illegal back then). It still works with Sarah Miles playing the maid that seduces the employer, but I would like to see this again knowing that there was meant to be a gay angle.

Yes, there are layers to this film. It’s an example of a type of British film that I like. No need to be gritty when you’re playing with someone’s head. Also no need to be gritty when you are shooting it as beautifully as this, seriously there are some great shots in here.

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