DIRK BOGARDE AS THE SERVANT
"The Servant", directed by Joseph Losey, is based on a Harold Pinter play and is a perfect example of the Hegel theory of the master-slave relationship. Hegel's theory is that both the master and slave are inevitably corrupted by the unhealthy mutual need in this relationship. The relationship between Tony and Hugo is the main focus of the film, and Pinter's screenplay is a scathing metaphor for the class war. The relationship between Tony and Hugo swings wildly from cutting, humiliating, gratuitous comments, to fumbled attempts at friendship. But with such inequities in position alone, any attempt at some sort of equality is ludicrous. The roles of exploiter and the exploited switch back and forth between Tony and Hugo as the power base in the household moves.
Dirk Bogarde is phenomenal as Hugo. The role of the servant was made for his incredible acting ability. Hugo is, at first, a dreadful toady, but is soon revealed as opportunistic, sly and depraved. His role is in complete contrast to Tony, played by James Fox--who is effete, helpless and malleable. The two main female roles are also in contrast to one another. Vera (Sarah Miles) is the seductive, giggly working class girl whose free sexuality is the opposite of the ice maiden, Susan, who doles out favours as they are merited. The film, a three British Academy Award winner, is a little dated, but it still packs a powerful punch with its unsettling storyline--displacedhuman
This film takes a sharp look at British class relations via a dramatic turning of the tables between a dainty Oxbridge twit bachelor (played by a young and dapper James Fox) and his contemptuous manservant/Butler (Bogarde). Bogarde's servant slowly realizes and exploits his expanding powers over his "master" as Fox steadily loses his authority and becomes enslaved to his own "employee".