Accident starts with a car crash, we don't see the crash, only hear it and then see the aftermath. This powerful opening sets the metaphoric tone for what we can expect from Joseph Losey and Harold Pinter's masterpiece. I recently had the privilege of re-watching the remastered 50th Anniversary edition of Pinter and Losey's first film the sublime The Servant which is noted as pioneering British Art House Cinema but with their second collaboration Accident it really feels as if they hit their stride.
Whilst The Servant took a look behind the closed doors of the inner workings of a dysfunctional and twisted relationship between James Fox's young aristocrat and his valet played by Dirk Bogarde. In many respects Accident is similar and explores correlated issues but is broader and more complex in scope, yet leave the feeling that in Pinter and Losey's world all men are fallible no matter their station or how noble their vocational pursuits. It is never fair to compare one film to another but I find that here it gives context to Losey and Pinter's working relationship and style of filmmaking - as Accident feels more polished, less extreme and a more fleshed out dramatic piece.
|Accident Film Poster (Click to enlarge)|
Accident tells the story of Stephen, Dirk Bogarde's character, an Oxford professor who is seemingly undergoing a mid life crisis and despite having a lovely home, wife, children and respected career wonders whether it is enough. Stephen already has a rivalrous relationship with his longtime friend and colleague the more macho Charley (Stanley Baker) who has become something of an academic celebrity through his books and TV show.
|Accident Michael York as William & Jacqueline Sassard as Anna (Click to enlarge)|
The third of the triangle is William (Michael York) who Stephen has a decent enough pupil - mentor relationship with, then Losey & Pinter throws the young Anna (Jacqueline Sassard) amongst the cats and the game is afoot as some of the tendencies Bogarde masterfully exhibited in The Servant to bubble to the surface. Irrevocably altering the the dynamics of all the relationships involved and leads to events that have consequences for all.
|Accident Dirk Bogarde as Stephen and Jacqueline Sassard Anna (Click to enlarge)|
|Accident Anna Jacqueline Sassard and Charley Stanley Baker (Click to enlarge)|
|Accident Stephen Dirk Bogarde and William Michael York play indoor rugby games (Click to enlarge)|
|Accident Dirk Bogarde's Stephen and Stanley Baker's Charley chat (Click to enlarge)|
DVD & Blu-ray Extras:
-Talking About Accident documentary featuring an interview with Harry Pinter
-Joseph Losey and Harold Pinter discuss Accident (1957)
-Dirk Bogarde biographer John Coldstream discussing Dirk Bogarde
-Harry Pinter expert Harry Burton discussing Harold Pinter
-Interview with feminist author and academic Melanie Williams
-Interview with film critic Tim Robey
From the director of The Servant and The Go-Between comes Accident Out on DVD, Blu-ray & EST April 8th, 2013
A fatal car accident triggers an intense psychological drama in the second of the renowned collaborations between Joseph Losey and playwright-turned-screenwriter Harold Pinter. Reuniting the pair with Dirk Bogarde, the star of their first project, THE SERVANT (1963), ACCIDENT is based on a novel by Nicholas Mosley and remains one of Losey’s most “penetrating and pessimistic studies of human frailty”
|Accident Jacqueline Sassard's Anna & Dirk Bogarde as Stephen (Click to enlarge)|
ACCIDENT centres on a middle-aged man in crisis. Dirk Bogarde plays Stephen, a married Oxford don, seemingly content in his marriage to Rosalind (Vivien Merchant, wife of Harold Pinter) but underneath starting to fear emotional rot and feeling the social wounds of tutoring students above his station. Also silently resentful of his colleague Charley (Stanley Baker) and his sexual prowess, not to mention his burgeoning TV career, Stephen remains-functionally-drunk as often as possible. One night he is horrified when a car crashes near his country house in the middle of the night; finding the crash has killed William (Michael Yorke, in his screen debut) one of his aristocratic students with whom he has been locked in a duel of egos, jealous of the boy’s youthful vitality. The survivor is William’s fiancée, the enigmatic Anna (Jacqueline Sassard) who Stephen has been longing for an affair with, realising she could either revitalise – or ruin – his life. As the previous months’ events gradually unfold in flashback over a hot summer we see Stephen facilitating the original meeting between William and Anna, his seemingly magnanimous intentions concealing a rising tide of anxiety, self-centredness and sexual frustration. It soon becomes clear the recent car crash was no “accident” but rather mysteriously self-inflicted, a murderous final gesture or a collectively willed catastrophe.
“Lives skidding out of control is the subject of this quiet but unsparingly bitter film about personal, professional and mid-life crises hitting the intelligentsia where it hurts: in the head.” FILM 4
Winner of the 1967 Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, ACCIDENT was also nominated for 4 BAFTAS including Best British Film. This Home Entertainment release features the (year) restoration undertaken by the BFI, arriving on blu-ray for the first time. New exclusive extras created for the release include new interviews with film critics, and Pinter ands Bogarde experts to contextualize the achievements of one of the seminal films of 1960s British cinema.
Directed by Joseph Losey
Screenplay by Harold Pinter adapted from the novel by Nicholas Mosley
Starring Dirk Bogarde, Stanley Baker, Michael York & Jacqueline Sassard
The Establishing Shot: I WATCH JOSEPH LOSEY & HAROLD PINTER'S MASTERFUL BRITISH CLASSIC ACCIDENT - REVIEW
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