R. Lewis | Michigan USA | 05/02/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"YOU REMEMBER A MOVIE WITH ALL OF ITS NUANCES HOPING THAT SOME DAY TO BE ABLE TO HAVE IT IN YOUR COLLECTION TO WATCH AGAIN. THE MOVIE FINALLY COMES OUT AND YOU FIND THAT SOME CORPORATION HAS BUTCHERED THE FILM THAT YOU REMEMBER. Time and time again this happens to the classic movies that were watched by millions of people. We the public "Who are plunking our hard earned cash to purchase THESE MEMORIES", not only deserve to watch the entire movie that we remember but, maybe with additional features like deleted scenes and comentary but, not with detractions. I don't understand why they do it. Colombia and Sony did it with this film. MGM and others, do it with many other classics that I remember. WHY?? This is a disservice to the art of the movie and to the public that is paying good money for a memory. Only to be ripped off!! I only wish they knew that these efforts to butcher a movie is not appreciated. I feel like they are playing a cruel joke and wish something could be done about it"
William Wyler in a claustrophic setting
Charles J. Garard Jr. PhD | Liaocheng University, China | 08/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Other reviewers of this excellent film based on John Fowles early novel criticize the poor transfer and editing or censoring of one scene of brief nudity, so I won't, as they say, go there. The film, in whatever condition the DVD happens to be in, will be my concern.
The novel is written with a dual first-person point of view structure. The beginning and ending of the story are told from Clegg's perspective, and the middle passages reveal Miranda's perspective about what is-- or what she thinks is -- going on. Clegg tells us what Miranda doesn't know, and Miranda does the same; she even refers to him as Caliban, the unfortunate creature from Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST. In the film, we have a voice-over narrative by Terrance Stamp as Clegg only at the beginning and at the very end. Exposure to the character's thoughts gives audiences the first-person point of view. However, we never hear a voice-over by Samantha Eggar as Miranda.
The dual first-person point of view is the perspective that director William Wyler affords viewers in his 1965 film version of the novel. Some critics, in fact, fault him for distracting audiences with outside points of view. Wyler, as we know, is noted for his use of a stationary camera and the wide-angle lens; in THE COLLECTOR, wide-angle shots, which create a deep-focus image, dominate the interior scenes. Through the years, from WUTHERING HEIGHTS in 1939 to THE BIG COUNTRY and BEN-HUR in the late 1950s, Wyler has been admired for his wide-angled vistas and deep-focus shots that give the viewer the option to choose from what is visually provided.
The film opens with a long, establishing shot of a green meadow. Clegg enters the upper-right portion of the frame as a small figure. He chases a butterfly across the meadow as the single opening credit appears; from a close-up of a butterfly, which he captures and inspects, the camera raises to include his boyish face as he routinely places the specimen into a killing jar. When he notices the Tudor house, the lilting score by composer Maurice Jarre becomes ominous. He finds a sign that reads "Freehold For Sale," and upon further inspection discovers the archway for the outside cellar. Suspenseful musical chords underscore the cinematic text as he approaches it, the huge net thrown over his shoulder. The net, in fact, seems be be purposely thrust toward the camera as if to collect the audience and drag it along with him. From then on, we, like Miranda, are caught in Clegg's net and, for the most part, are confined to the cellar until the end of the film, observers of the drama that Clegg not only stages and directs but acts in.
When I showed THE COLLECTOR to film students at a small college in Atlanta, I had to break the showing into two halves to accommodate class scheduling. Before I began the second half of the film, I asked the students how they thought it was going to end. They thought that Miranda would eventually escape from Clegg and that Clegg would be caught and punished, which is what usually happens in British and American kidnapping/ sociopath films. That the novel and the film do not end as many of us expect is to its credit as a literary and cinematic work. For both to end in the usual way would detract from Fowles' message about people who are creators and people who are merely collectors and treat this subject as just another thriller.
Although filmed in gorgeous Technicolor, one particular scene in the film is worth noting. A shimmering dissolve from a close shot of Clegg's face as he is gloating and being pelted by rain provides a visual transition to a black-and-white flashback of Clegg sitting at his desk in a bank while a co-worker dangles a butterfly mobile over his head. His bank colleagues laugh at this juvenile prank which Clegg fails to see until an artificial butterfly brushes his head. The sequence has no equivalent in the Fowles novel but it shows, better than words can describe, his alienation from society. Wyler avoids the first-person perspective; a voice-over narration is unnecessary.
A wide shot after his aunt bursts in the door reveals Clegg crouched in one corner of the room. Wyler's skillful mise-en-scene allows the other bank clerks to appear larger and brighter as they sit at their desks, but when his aunt beckons him to the counter to inform him that something important has come to him in the post, he is the center of attention. He ambles with his head to one side -- a mannerism that he continues when confronting, or being confronted by, Miranda. "I told you never to come into the bank," he whispers to her. This statement, joined with the fact that she has obviously opened his personal mail, reveals much about their relationship. Her lower-class appearance and manners link Clegg with a social status that he would undoubtedly prefer to conceal from his colleagues. She calls him Freddie, and this remains the only time viewers hear any references to his real name. Before Clegg can even read the letter, she bellows to the others that he has won 71,000 pounds on the football pools. Clegg is understandably stunned as colleagues gather around him, and his aunt expresses her delight like a hooting charwoman. The film dissolves again to a close shot of Clegg's face, once again in color, in the rain. This monochrome sequence remains the only flashback in the final cut of Wyler's THE COLLECTOR, the only view of Mona Washbourne as Clegg's aunt, and one of few expositional moments. G.P. -- Miranda's mentor and possible older lover in the novel -- never appears, except in one distant back shot in the pub; nor do any of the other characters revealed through Miranda's journal in the Fowles novel show up on the screen. What remains is a tight production which focuses mainly on the two antagonists. If the rough cut of the film, which supposedly includes other characters and more of the story, still remains, perhaps a future DVD version might be released as the EXTENDED CUT, which DVD companies like to tout.
If you have not yet read El Lagarto's excellent review of this film elsewhere on this page, I recommend that you do. My own comments have been updated and revised, as are my comments on THE MAGUS also based on a John Fowles novel, from my dissertation and book POINT OF VIEW IN FICTION: FOCUS ON JOHN FOWLES. Reportedly, Fowles didn't approve of Wyler's version of THE COLLECTOR. While I recognize Fowles as one of the greatest British writers since D. H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy, I fail to see many flaws in this production. THE COLLECTOR is tight and concise, emphasizing the two characters who represent the creators and collectors among us all."