The Servant – text by Silvia Bombardini

Dear Shaded
Viewers and Diane,


A week or
so ago at the London Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, I went to see Dirk
in The Servant. Recently re-released to celebrate its 50th anniversary,
the film was first screened in 1963, directed by Joseph Losey on a flawless
screenplay by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, and ranks 22nd in the BFI list
of the greatest British films of the 20th century.


and ferine, The Servant is an indoor essay on dominance and power, class and hierarchy,
a private choreography of the unsaid, subtle, malicious, laced with not quite
revolutionary subtext. Narrowly set in the newly repainted rooms of a lavish Chelsea
townhouse, the narrative unfolds gently as the camera glides from staircase symbolism
to early new-wavish shot, perfectly captured on a round convex mirror or an empty
wine glass.   


Bogarde is a better Hugh Barrett than anyone could possibly be. Courteous, unassuming,
devoted, only ever so slightly possessive, "a gentleman's gentleman"
in a porkpie hat. It was him who brought in James Fox for the role of Tony, the
indolent wealthy young man who unluckily hires him for his services. Ruthlessly
and with practiced ease, Barrett gradually undermines the authority of his
master as Tony grows more and more dependent on his care. While his lady friend
Vera (Sarah Miles) easily drives Tony away from his upper-class fianc