The Prisoner (1967–1968): Season 1, Episode 5 - The General - full transcript

The Professor is an academic who has created 'Speedlearn',a process for educating the villagers, broadcast from large TV screens and developed with the aid of 'The General',whom noone has seen. In order to prevent Number Two from subverting his creation to brain-wash the population,the Professor seeks the aid of Number Six to send out a subliminal message of freedom to the village but this fails. Finally Number Six gets to meet The General,who is certainly not what he expected.

Where am I?

In the village.

What do you want?


Whose side are you on?

That would be telling.

We want information...



You won't get it.

By hook or by crook...
...we will.

Who are you?

The new Number Two.

Who is Number One?

You are Number Six.

I am not a number.
I am a free man!

Attention ladies and gentlemen.

This is an announcement
from the General's Department.

All students on the history course,
return to your dwellings immediately.

The Professor will be lecturing
in thirty minutes.

I repeat, this is an announcement
from the General's Department.

Repeat, from the General.

Will all history students,
return to their dwellings.

- Waiter!
- Sir?

- Another coffee, please.
- Sorry, sir, we're closing.

You did hear the announcement, sir,
about the Professor?

I'm not a student.

One coffee, sir.
Two credit units, please.

- You're never too old to learn.
- Who said that?

- The General.
- The General?

- Good luck with your exams.
- Thank you.

This is a special announcement
from the General's Department.

Repeat, from the General.

All students on the history course,
return to your dwellings immediately.

The Professor will be giving
his lecture in thirty minutes.

You don't believe it?

A university-level degree
in three minutes.

- It's improbable.
- But not impossible.

Nothing is, in this place.

You should enrol - you'll find
the Professor most interesting...

- Really?
- With extraordinary knowledge.

The only subject I'm interested in
is escaping from here.


Who are you?

- A cog in the machine.
- And the General?

- Who are they after?
- The Professor.


You know professors - absent-minded.

Good luck with your exams.

All units, orange alert.

Orange alert.

All units, all posts, orange alert.

Orange alert.

Ladies and gentlemen,
fellow villagers, students...

...this is the Professor speaking.

This is the Professor speaking.

Ladies and gentlemen,
fellow villagers, students...

...this is the Professor speaking.

I have an urgent message for you.

- Are you a student?
- Are you prefects?

- What are you doing?
- Playing truant.

- We'll give you a lift.
- Where?

Home. You know what the General said.

Who's he?

Don't start term with a black mark.

All right, let's go.

- Get in.
- Will he make it?

- Who?
- The Professor - to his lecture.

He'll make it. Great man - treats
lectures like his life depends on it.

All right. Let's go.

Be seeing you.

...a great significance.

To quote our friend the Professor,

"Speed Learn" is a revolution
in educational technique.

There's a 72.4% enrolment
on the "three years

in three minutes" history course.

Many thanks, and congratulations.

I think we can improve
on even that figure.

And now, someone
who needs no introduction.

Nice to be seeing you all again.

My husband, the Professor,

has asked me to convey his apologies
for detaining you for a moment.

The success of this course
has put an added strain upon him

and he is just now completing
the notes for the second lecture.

Meanwhile, poor substitute
though I am for my husband,

to bring you up to date,

the extracurricular seminar for
postgraduate and advanced students

will be next week.

Excuse me.

Thank you, madam. Your husband
is now ready to complete the lecture.

Now to the Professor.
Good luck with the exams.

My apologies. I'd like to say
a brief word about "Speed Learn".

It's quite simply the most
important, most far-reaching,

most beneficent development
in mass education...

...since the beginning of time.

A marriage of science
and mass communication,

which results in the abolition
of years of tedious

and wasteful schooling.

A three-year course,
indelibly impressed

upon the mind in three minutes.


That's what I said, until I was
introduced to the General

and realised that it was
not only possible...

...but that education was ready
to leap from the Dark Ages

into the 20th and 21 st centuries.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been
a teacher for thirty years.

"Speed Learn" has made me
as obsolete as the dodo.

And we're going to prove it!

Tonight's lecture
is on Europe since Napoleon,

a hard six months' study.

Ladies and gentlemen,
sit back, relax, watch the screen.

We'll cover it in
1 5 seconds flat.

1 5 seconds.

For more information, write to
the General at the Town Hall.

I will repeat that -
write to the General.

Mopping up operations, Number Six?

- Have you lost something?
- Not me - the Professor.

- Been on the beach?
- What beach?

The Professor's lost his recorder
with his notes. You didn't see it?

- Is it about that big?
- The Professor is worried about it.

Why don't you get your man
to look in the wardrobe?

Very amusing Tell me, are you
still as keen as ever to leave us?

Any more questions?

A compromise could be arranged
in exchange for the recorder.

I wonder who has it.

- Enjoy the lecture?
- What lecture?

It's a great experiment.
You can learn much.

History's not my subject.

When was the Treaty of Adrianople?

September 1 829.

- What happened in 1 830?
- Greek independence was assured.

- By whom?
- Russia, France, Britain.

Who was Bismarck's ally against
Prince Christian of Glucksburg?

Frederick of Austenburg, he had never
accepted the 1 852 Treaty of London.

Bismarck wanted war,
but waged by Prussia and Austria -

not the whole German Bund.

He realised a successful war
against the Danes

would serve the same purpose as
Cavour's entry into the Crimean War.

Namely that it would indicate
future leadership

and, would at the same time,
raise Prussia's prestige.

Very good. Ten out of ten.

Don't underestimate yourself,
Number Six.

And don't underestimate me.

- Can I help you?
- When was the Treaty of Adrianople?

- 1 829.
- What happened in 1 830?

Greek independence
was guaranteed.

- By whom?
- Russia, France and Britain.

Who was Frederick of Austenburg?

Bismarck's ally against the Danes
under Prince Christian of Glucksburg.

Frederick had never adopted
the 1 852 Treaty of London.

He, like Bismarck, was...

Curfew time - fifteen minutes.

- Anything I can do for you?
- You want to get out of here?


Here's your passport.

Number Two offered you a deal,
didn't he?

Don't you trust him?

I don't trust Number Two,
I don't trust you...

...and I don't trust your professor.

- Who do you trust?
- I trust me.

Join the club.

Oh, what was
the Treaty of Adrianople?

September... 1 829.

Wrong - I said 'what' not 'when'.

You need some special coaching.

Ladies and gentlemen,
this is the Professor speaking.

I have an urgent message -
you are being tricked.

"Speed Learn" is an abomination.
It is slavery.

If you wish to be free, there is
only one way - destroy the General.

Learn this and learn it well -

The General must be destroyed!

- Nice day again.
- Be nice tomorrow.

What happened in 1 878?

1 878? Eastern Romania was given
autonomy from the Turkish Empire.


Good luck with the exams.

I assure you there's no problem, sir.

We're getting 1 00% co-operation, and
I anticipate a truly exciting result

Who, sir? The Professor?
A mild aberration.

Two days rest and adjustment, and
he'll be doing everything we need.

Yes, I will keep in touch, sir,
in the closest touch.

Thank you, sir.

Probably the most important human
experiment we've ever conducted...

...and it's treated
like a military exercise!

- Anything new on the Professor?
- The doctor will see you personally.

Tell him to hurry.

- Yes, sir.
- No, I'll do it myself.

Yes, sir.

Frankly, I think we're going
the wrong way about it with him.

- You mean the Professor?!
- He's a crank

and should be treated as such.

You think so?

I know he's the cornerstone
of "Speed Learn", but...

- Yes?
- I think he's a troublemaker.

- How long have you been with us?
- Quite a long time, sir.

But obviously not long enough.

Yes, sir.

Sorry, sir.

Number 1 2...

...your opinions about the Professor
should be carefully guarded.

Section 32, sound and vision.

Put up section 32, sound and vision.

- How's it going?
- Please! I'm busy.

- The next lecture?
- Don't distract me.

- Very good! Very good indeed!
- I'm glad you approve.

You mustn't overdo it.
All right, Nurse.

- I must finish these notes!
- After some rest and mild therapy,

you'll be able to work twice as fast.

Track the Professor?

No, the seminar.

Right. Put up section 39,
sound and vision.

It's Number Six!

Really, how very odd.

- Can I help you?
- Can you?

Finding things a bit strange?

That is the trouble,
I can't find anything at all.

- What do you want?
- What does anybody?

Let's see.
That man over there -

what do you think he's doing?

Tearing up a book.

He's creating a fresh concept.

Construction arises
out of the ashes of destruction.

And that woman?

Standing on her head.

She's developing new perspective.



He's asleep. One learns
only when the mind wants to.

Is that what your husband believes?

It's self-evident, surely.
What's your subject?

- What's yours?
- Mine? Modern art.


What do you think of this?

Not altogether flattering.
Art's your subject, too?!

No - military history.

Generals and that kind of thing.

You may be wasting your time.

Pity(!) I understood your husband's
an authority on the subject.

He may be, but I'm not.


Creation out of destruction?

- Number Six out of vision.
- Scan.

This is a private room!

Interesting view from here.

- Are you a spy?
- How long have you been here?

I don't have to answer!

The whole house is most elegant.



...and a very beautiful garden.

The Professor and I
have certain privileges.

As prisoners or as warders?

We came here voluntarily. We have
everything we need. We're happy.

- Doing what?
- My husband is a teacher.

I see. And you...

...are the artist?

For the last time,
I'm asking you to leave!

- Studies from life?
- Rough exercises.

Very good! You really have
a considerable talent.

- What are you looking for?
- With all these privileges,

I thought we might find
one study of...

The General.


Not a bad likeness.
Playing truant?

No, just doing a little homework.

I didn't ask him here!

You don't have to explain.
We're old friends.

He's a thoroughly zealous student,
with a tendency to overdo it.

Is the Professor co-operating?

- I've sedated him.
- He overdoing it, too?

Probably a bit excited -
he's as enthusiastic as a child.

- Now he's sleeping like a babe.
- Don't disturb him.

I wouldn't dream of it!

Get out! Stop him!

You should look after him better -
he's gone to pieces.

- You have it wrong.
- No, the doctor has.

Wait, the offer I made is cancelled.

- Is it?!
- He doesn't need the notes now.

Neither do I.
Good luck with your exams.

Open the blinds - let in some light.
You've nothing to hide, have you?

- I'll warn Control.
- No.

- But...
- You do your job, I'll do mine.

Now, my dear...

I'm afraid he's made
a mess of your masterpiece.

- What does he want?
- What some of us want ultimately.

To escape.

- He persists about the General!
- I shouldn't worry too much -

I have an obsession
about him myself.

...far exceeding expectations.

Everybody wants to try "Speed Learn",
A three-year course in three minutes.

Madam, Tsar Nicholas I occupied
the Danubian principalities...?

- 1 853.
- Correct!

When was Victor Emmanuel
made King of Italy?

- 1 861 .
- Absolutely correct again!

Excellent answer!

When was the Boer War?

- 1 899 to 1 902.
- In 1 91 0?

The two Boer Republics
became part of South Africa.

Well done,
you're coming along nicely.

- Yes?
- Stay where you are.

The electrical
fault will be attended to forthwith.

Electrics and Administration
are on their way.

Candles for such emergencies
are in the kitchen cabinet.

- Electrics.
- Over there, I think.

Administration -
what's the trouble?

Deliberate short circuit
across the contacts.

Sabotage - that's punishable.

We need a 2/D replacement.

Ask Control to switch in
a temporary reserve.


Calling Electrics Control.

- Is this your work?
- Some. Listen carefully.

The Professor's real lecture -
would you like it to go out?

I might.

Take it.

In the ink cylinder-micro.
Be careful.

- How?
- With this.


- When?
- Tomorrow.

- I'll fix it...

All in order.

So you become aware
that deliberate destruction

of official property
is a most serious offence.

I recommend the full penalty.
Imprisonment or a fine.

The fine.

I thought so. Report to me
in Administration tomorrow morning.



- How is he?
- Fine - beautiful response.

Will he be able
to complete the lecture?

Able and willing.

- Your business?
- Board member,

Lecture Approval Session, Education...

Proceed to pass.


- You have them?
- Right here, sir. Ready processed.

Excellent. Summon the Board.


- Micro-reduction satisfactory?
- First class, sir.


Number Two calling. The lectures
have arrived. Security alert.

- Yes, sir.
- Everything OK?

I don't know about the General,
but I can predict that the experiment

will be a 1 00% success.

- Your business, please?
- Board member,

Lecture Approval Session, Education.

Proceed to pass.

Number Two for sublimator.

- Got the micro, sir?
- Transmission's scheduled.

- Was it cleared?
- It will be.

Education Board
entering session. Hurry.

Lecture Approval Session.
New member.

Proceed to pass.

Boardroom straight on, first right.

You were nearly late.

Board about to enter session
in eighty-seven seconds.

Don't try to pass without a key.
Second occasion is fatal.

Your business, please?

Lecture Approval Session.
New member.

Proceed to pass.


Thank you for your
confidence in the General.

To show our confidence in you,

we'll give you a breakdown
of the operation.

In confidence, of course.

Speed Learn is the outcome
of the General's prolific knowledge.

Its basis is the students' confidence
in a tried and trusted professor,

and the Professor's
confidence in science.

Stand by. Transmission will
begin in approximately five minutes.

Check in, please.


General studio?

Lecture studio?



Will you clear, please!


All clear.

Standing by.

All operatives clear.
Stand by, please.

Thus the miniaturised course can be
projected through the sublimator

much faster than the eye can record.

Transmission will start
in two minutes.

It is imposed
directly onto the brain's cortex,

and is virtually indelible.

Tonight's lecture, for instance...

Transmission will commence
in 60 seconds.

That's the theory, gentlemen,
now, for the practice.

Final clearance, please.
Sound studio?

General studio?

Lecture studio?



- Telecine?
- Hold that picture!

- What picture, sir?
- The projection.



He's cut his hand, sir!

Poor old chap!

Transmission will start
in five seconds.

Five, four...

. . .three, two. . . In!

And so, ladies and gentlemen,

we come to the end of another
successful edition of "Speed Learn".

Thanks to the Professor
and congratulations to the General.

Good night, to you all.
Sweet dreams.

Who were they?
Who let you in?

The organisation of dissidents -
who's the head man?

Santa Claus.

You'd be wise to tell us!

He won't tell you anything,
he's a trained conspirator.

This reactionary drivel you were
going to send out to our students -

The freedom to learn the liberty
to make mistakes.


You are an odd fellow, Number Six.

Two here.

Congratulations, my dear,
the lecture went splendidly.

- You're pleased?
- Yes.

- May I see him?
- Of course.

As soon as he's completed
the next instalment.

He's performing so well,
we can't disturb him now.

How long? Who can tell?

- But not long.
- Let me know?

Naturally, I'll let you know.

Lovely woman - she'd talk him
into anything to keep him alive.

- The Professor?
- Indeed.

Such is
the course of true love.

- Do you need him?
- They're both necessary.

Even essential.

Now, to the matter in hand!

A man of your calibre will appreciate

that rebels that rebels must be
kept under close surveillance,

ready for extinction
if the rebellion is absolute.

- The Professor?
- No.

Not the Professor, he has an
adoring wife and an attentive doctor.

A lovely fellow. People love him.
They'll take anything from him.

It's the kindly image
that is important.

The General's office, please.

You see,
he won't answer our questions,

but the General can answer anything,
given the facts.

Ah! Yes. Yes, it all went splendidly.

Delighted - absolutely delighted.

Just a slight problem for you.

Mind if we come round?
Thank you. Right away.

The General awaits us.
We shall soon know what's what.

Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire,
Rousseau - and the rest.

They're all here,
all available to the General.

There is no question - from advanced
mathematics to molecular structure,

from philosophy to crop spraying,

The General cannot answer.

This is how it works.

Allow me to introduce the General.

All the Professor's own work.

He gave birth to it
and loves it with a passionate love.

Probably hates it even more.

That mass of circuits is as
revolutionary as nuclear fission.

No more wastage in schools
or tedious learning by rote.

A brilliantly devised course,
delivered by a leading teacher,

subliminally learned, checked and
corrected by an infallible authority.

- And what have we got?
- A row of cabbages!

Indeed - knowledgeable cabbages.

- What knowledge?
- For now, past history,

but shortly we'll make our own.

Napoleon could have used it.

Professor, come here.

Take down a problem for the General,
an illustration of infallibility.

Point one, a traitor in The Village.

Point two, security pass discs
were issued to Number Six.

Point three...

Access to these... through...

Through where? Through where?!

- Administration, sir.
- Exactly.

Put that down.

Also, that Number 1 2
is an official in Administration.

Now... ask the General.

- An unanswerable question.
- What?

- A question it cannot answer.
- Impossible.

- Let me ask it.
- No!

Are you afraid?

- Go ahead.
- Excuse me, Professor.

Thank you.

With your permission?

Feed it in.

- Switch it off.
- I can't!

Switch it off!


What was your question?!

- It's insoluble for man or machine.
- What was it?!


- Question mark.
- "Why?"