Review: “The Collector” – Boldly Brave & Quietly Uncompromising

Boldly brave and quietly uncompromising, The Collector illustrates a versatility which some contemporaries misinterpreted as weakness. Historically few directors have jumped between genres without effort, but for Wyler his genius lay in the ease with which he achieved this and produced films of note.

Not only was this film done by directing legend William Wyler who did Ben Hur, Roman Holiday and Funny Girl, but it features art direction from an Oscar winner and snagged major awards at Cannes. For something which is essentially a stripped down two-hander with a pitch black ending, intimate dialogue and minimal locations The Collector remains relevant. Adapted from the book by John Fowles, famous for The French Lieutenant’s Woman, it did much to confirm Wyler’s reputation as well as gifting Terence Stamp his second lead role.

Featuring an eerily intermittent voice over it concisely sets up a kidnapping plot with selective location work, detailed soundstages and riveting performances. Feeling somewhat awkward throughout, the sense of claustrophobia which Wyler imbues through continual close ups, extended silences and bursts of emotion make it a riveting watch. Having the luxury of rehearsal time prior to shooting, both actors are able to inhabit their characters whilst illustrating class divide, educational prejudice and a veiled commonality.

Samantha Eggar works hard within the limitations of her role to provide depth and detail to Miranda. Stamp meanwhile is all watchful gaze, repressed body language and barely concealed passions. Throughout there is an inevitability which hangs over proceedings which instils a darkness, even though the incarceration itself is handled with awareness and respect. Manipulation both emotionally, psychologically and literally continually adds layers to a film which would doubtless have been predictable in other hands.

With The Collector, Wyler proved his mastery of character pieces and adapted his skills to accommodate a smaller visual canvas. There are no wasted frames here and both actors display a restrained chemistry despite the circumstances. As a social commentary piece The Collector speaks of class division, unobtainable opportunities and lives unlived. In part, issues of idolisation are examined where observation can be misconstrued as participation. Then fatality, the idea that a perceived inferiority somehow insulates and condones wrongdoing.

Boldly brave and quietly uncompromising, The Collector illustrates a versatility which some contemporaries misinterpreted as weakness. Historically few directors have jumped between genres without effort, but for Wyler his genius lay in the ease with which he achieved this and produced films of note.

the collector, four stars, film review, Top 10 Films

Written by Martin Carr

Directed by: William Wyler
Written by: Stanley Mann, John Kohn
Starring: Terence Stamp, Samantha Eggar
Released: 1965 / Genre: Psychological Horror
Country: USA / IMDB
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The Collector was released on Blu-ray in the UK by Powerhouse Films on September 24, 2018.

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Film blogger. Writer. Novelist. Singer. Living the dream. Isle of Wight based. Chipping away at the rockface. Leaving a mark...well trying anyway... See More at: http://martincarr.jimdo.com/

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