years after the first screen appearance many people would remember
THE PRISONER as the series with the white balloon.
white ballon that can be seen during the opening and closing sequences
emerging out of the sea and drifting over the shores according to the episode "The Schizoid Man" is called Rover. This episode did not play
in German until the year 2010. And it even has an important supporting role.
It is only in the first episode "Arrival"
that the thing, for once, is called Hystero in the German version. This
is actually "Be still!", the command to all Village
inhabitants/inmates to stand still without a move. Otherwise they
would be in danger of being suffocated by Rover in a horrific image.
Here Number 6 receives a demonstration of Rover's abilities.
underwater test tube seems to Rover's place of birth. On appearing
he is recognized acoustically by some impressive dinosaur-roaring
and cleverly visionalized, Rover is the absolutely synthesized embodiment
of the ever-present oppression in the Village and a symbol of the double character of progress. This watchdog patrols
the Village borders, paralizes and catches fugitives. Internally
it is utilized to establish and enforce the rules. Quite a lot of
pictures show Number Six driven by Rover from behind.
WORSHIPPING? THERAPY? INSTRUCTIONS?
UNSOLVED MYSTERY IN "FREE FOR ALL"
final realization, though, was rather improvised by the props department.
According to the script of the day of shooting - which is supported
by old photographs - Rover was a hemispherical unmanned mechanical
vehicle with no windows and a rotating police light on top of it. Thus
it was to roam the Portmeirion streets and beaches.
within the very first test shots in the Village it became
obvious that this would not be working. The team had imported a vehicle
on a go-kart basis which was much too disproportionate
and could only be driven on solid ground. Because it was too heavy
it used sink into the estuary sand. Elaborate shots were impossible
to accomplish - as the dreaded watchdog it was all but ease and
unpredictability. Besides, driving proved torture for the person
inside, with the sun shining and the way ahead hardly discernible.
in shape, Rover is said by some to be McGoohan's idea while others
hold it was one of the team: in fact, passing weather balloons must
have been the prime source of inspiration. But in front of the camera
they wouldn't display their skills. They were too lightweight and
tended to vanish in the sky or were easily damaged. So tests were
made, they were partly filled with water to improve their bouncing
behaviour and to receive a better control in navigating them.
Eventually, what was most important in order to get the best performance,
an almost invisible thread was attached to the balloons, they were
dragged and the sequence was screened in reverse.
is this simple explanation why the Villagers had to stand motionlessly
while Rover was at large. In
the history of movie mistakes and continuity errors there is also
one particular scene where, on passing Rover, smoke is seen returning
into the chimney - for those watching closely...
watching closely will surely discover
Rover's "birth" graphically brought to the eye by the
Rover mini replica, the famous Lava Lamp. One piece can be
seen in Number Six' flat, another one in Number Two's control room
where scenes of the Rover coming-to-life can also be spotted occasionally
on the big wall screen as a kind of screen-saver.
By choosing this piece of artwork as a prop the PRISONER producers
proved their understanding of forms and artistic taste and their
fine sense in recognizing contemporary artistic trends.
This designer artwork piece was created in 1963 by one Edward
Craven Walker who intoduced it as the "Astro Lamp".
In 1965 it was marketed in greater scale as the "Lava-Lamp".
Technically it's a glas container with heated up wax in a special
liquid forming bubbles which will then rise upwards, cool down,
sink and rise again.
are many sources to be found on the web.