Is it that
German audiences werent expected to understand a bit of English,
and subtitling would have been possible anyway? Or does it mean resigning/stepping
back from some delicate position during the hot social, political and
cultural stage of the sixties simply wasnt tolerable? On the one hand dialogue director Brinkmann chooses to drop the expression Village completely, on the other hand he uses various terms for the "lost" word "Resigned" from the filing cabinet (in translation): to step down, to quit, to leave.
complete episodes does, of course, weaken the not-too concealed political
implications of the series. In retrospect one gets the notion that the
German selection, just like the vampire avoids the garlic, as best as
it is capable of eschews the underlying political issue of the time -
the Cold War.
Thus emphasizing a more adventure-like thing, with "Free For All"
and its obvious political content and "Living In Harmony" as
a political parable being discarded.
beginning the German version chooses to neglect one detail during the
credit sequence of the ultimate episode not without a certain significance.
Three of the four remaining lead characters, Leo McKern, Alexis Kanner,
Angelo Muscat, are introduced by their names but McGoohan isn't. Originally,
in the English version, the word "Prisoner", without
an article, is written on the screen: "Gefangener".
Just a linguistic problem?
In the episode
"The Chimes Of Big Ben" the geographical location of the Village
is on the agenda. Number Six' and Nadja's escape route is thereby relocated
in the German version of the story from the Baltics - the region that
was under the political and military influence of the Warsaw Pact - to
the "wild" Balkans and to Bulgaria. It must have been more convenient
and seemed harmless for those responsible to move it there. Because ever
since the 19th century stories of popular novelist Karl May this had been
an adventurous area of a different kind compared to the one of Eastern
Prussia, before WW II German territory, and further to the east.
In 2010 Franco-German TV station Arte rescreened NUMMER 6 on German TV after some 18 years. They decided to complete the dubbing of the four non-German episodes. Now the whole series can be watched in German. Number Six' former voice artist Horst Naumann was replaced by Bernd Rumpf. The new German episode titles are:
- Free For All - Freie Wahl
- The Schizoid Man - Der Doppelgänger
- A Change Of Mind - Sinneswandel
- Living In Harmony - Harmony
Of Mind" deals with the then virulent subject of behaviourism and
the lobotomy treatment which would find a climactic point a few years
later in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUKOOS NEST. "Harmony"
was truly in conflict with both the Western myth and the daily agenda
of the ongoing Vietnam war (as for the question of censorship see the episode appreciation article).
And its especially "Free For All" because McGoohan called
it one of seven episodes that "really count." Get more in the
the early nineties Bruce Clark, american-based coordinator of the Prisoner
Appreciation Society SIX OF ONE, uncovered an apparently unknown celluloid
version of the episode "The Chimes Of Big Ben". In addition,
around 2000 a significantly different "Arrival", compared to
what was known, saw the light of day. Of course, both alternate
versions were never seen on German television. The episodes
themselves are uneven depending on screenplay and director.
of episodes, already different in the GB and the US and even more
confusing in the German version, is lacking a firm perspective due to
production circumstances. Viewers in England, for example, were watching
a differnt sequence of episodes than those in Canada. By the time of the
shows first air date some episode still werent finished. Legions
of SIX OF ONE members have been exchanging arguments on how the true order
of episodes should and could have been. A closer look reveals some contradictory
dialogue parts because several script authors were employed to write what
they believed was episode 2. Other instances indicate that one specific
episode probably must come before or after another - it is in vain.
All in all its "Arrival" and "Once Upon A Time"/"Fall
Out" that tie it all together.
deep into some unfathomable recesses the production design conceives
the mysterious puzzle of THE PRISONER. Mostly there are symbolic
signs. But even if its only skindeep: like the canopied pennyfarthing
(McGoohan: "ironic symbol of progress") it gets stuck
in your mind. The whole thing rounds up to quite a refined blend of quintessentials
characterizing the nineteen-sixties: political
theory and social criticism
nonconformism and conformity
science fiction Supported
by dialogues that prefer allusions instead of speaking plainly. As Voltaire
once said, the secret of boredom is saying it all. I wish to
thank Larry Hall for his hints who, at the 2003 PortmeiriCon, showed a
video presentation on linguistic differences between the German and the
It is easily
forgotten that NUMMER 6 isn't a one-to-one translation of THE
PRISONER and couldn't be one, too. Joachim Brinkmann, the German dialogue director, pushed the door open
into ambiguity as early as in the prologue of episode 1. And he keeps
it that way in minor details thus enhancing the mysterious veil of the
where, in the prologue, Number Six asks "Where am I?" and gets the reply "In the Village" the German answer
states "Sie sind da" - "You are there" (equals "You are here."). What could be more plain and paradoxical
at the same time?
translation "im Dorf", which is "in the thorp",
is used in the DVD subtitles. But obviously, this sounds and feels rhythmically
infinitely flat to German ears, too, and, in terms of translating idiomatically,
it isn't an appropriate transfer of expression at all for the original "In the Village."
the real location - Portmeirion - was of much greater significance to
the British audience than to Germans.