Dark Horizons recently embedded a nine minute preview of AMC’s upcoming remake of The Prisoner. For costume alone it is certainly worth a look.
The original 17 episode TV series The Prisoner ran from 1967 to 68. It was co-created and starred Patrick McGoohan as the titular prisoner, or Number Six, a British government agent who on his resignation from the service is drugged and kidnapped. He awakes in a strange isolated village where the inhabitants live under an Orwellian-like order and his captives, led by their unseen master Number One, constantly probe him as to why he resigned.
Possibly due to its unusual structure and execution the show was indifferently received at the time, though has since garnered a massive cult following – hence the new version.
AMC, the team behind hit show Mad Men, have remade The Prisoner as a six-part mini-series starring Jim Caviezel as Number Six and Sir Ian McKellen as his immediate adversary Number Two. From their generous nine minute preview it seems as though AMC are travelling down a similarly dense and trippy, though perhaps not as twistedly utopian, road as the 1960s original.
Costume wise the sixties show was individual to say the least: 1920s-era straw boater hats, black rowing blazers with white contrast piping, turtlenecks, matelot tops, canvas deck shoes. The village itself was situated by the water, indeed the show was filmed on location at seaside town Portmeirion in Wales, so this nautically themed dress was actually a logical choice. The remake was shot in Namibia, South Africa and is primarily desert based. Moreover its style of dress appears to be far less uniform.
Caviezel as new Number Six spends most of his time in the preview wearing a green v-neck sweater and matching lightweight zipper. Green presumably represents his newness to the village and lack of understanding of how things work. Most other ‘inmates’ wear anonymous contemporary casuals: short sleeved shirts and plain t-shirts. Everything has a Miami or Cuban themed tinge (same with the classic chrome vehicles).
The village conspirators follow a comparable 1920s vibe to the original. Lots of layered knits (a boom in the Jazz Age thanks to then Prince of Wales, Edward VIII), white, cream and beige shirts and suits, headscarves, barbour stripes, turtlenecks (popular with artist types) and a wide variety of hats.
At several points in the preview Ian McKellen wears a wide brimmed fedora and linen flat cap; his character might be one of the few to remain classically and immaculately attired throughout the duration of the show. It is a pity his look was not made universal as sartorial conformity greatly added to the creepiness of the sixties version.
Kudos however to AMC and costume designer Anna B. Sheppard in keeping that twenties look; their reasoning may not be fully apparent at this stage (unless you were lucky enough to catch the exclusive Comic Con footage, perhaps it shed more light?), though ironically a link to the past gives their remake a timeless quality. Plus with the right approach The Prisoner as a concept has never been more relevant.
Be seeing you.
© 2009 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.