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ACCIDENT

Director: JOSEPH LOSEY

U.K. • 1967 • COLOUR • DIGITAL • 105 MIN.


Accident discloses thwarted desire and behavioural brutality behind Oxford’s ivory towers. Contentedly married but fearing middle-aged malaise, a philosophy don (Dirk Bogarde) yearns for an affair with the enigmatic student Anna (Jacqueline Sassard). He is also locked in a battle of duelling egos with a pupil (Michael York) whose vitality he envies, and a philosopher friend (Stanley Baker) whose media prowess and sexual success he covets. An emotional collision is inevitable. Images simmer with tension; a sequence where the guilt-ridden hero seems to be collapsing two separate conversations in his mind has a montage mastery worthy of Alain Resnais; a Sunday afternoon sequence of gathering discord ranks comparison with the island search in Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’avventura as one of the most brilliantly plotted sequences in 1960s cinema. Elegantly scripted by Harold Pinter and superbly acted, it is a bleak picture of human frailty, as supposedly superior intellect wrestles unavailingly with overpowering, ignoble passion. Some critics since have dismissed the film as pretentious. When even Losey was worrying about Accident and its pacing, Dirk Bogarde, with characteristic candour, put him straight. ‘You have not bettered it,’ he told him. ‘Bugger the pacing. It’s a masterpiece.’

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