Accident Film Details
Overview: At Oxford, Austrian student Anna von Graz (Jacqueline Sassard) is dating fellow student William (Michael York), whom she plans to marry, but she ends up sleeping with two unhappily married Oxford professors instead.
Tagline: The story of a love triangle… and the four people trapped in it!
Review: ***User-reviewer st-shot (“Accident keeps its distance”, st-shot from United States, 11 April 2011) has a well-written commentary. So does Slime-3 (“Tense, measured actors piece which now shows it age”, Slime-3 from Gloucester, England, 13 November 2012).*** “The Accident (1967, Joseph Losey)”, a sexual foursome, is challenging but rewarding. It is written by Nicholas Mosley, adapted by Harold Pinter and directed by Joseph Losey. This third Losey-Pinter collaboration has a smoldering intensity even though there are many scenes concerning the everyday details of a comfortable University of Oxford society. “Accident” is intensely visual and austere. Casual film-goers are not its intended audience. Still, it has great emotional depth and is memorable. It starts with a fatal car crash in the UK countryside. Stephen (Dick Bogarde), an Oxford professor of philosophy, rescues Anna (Jacqueline Sassard), an attractive young student, from the wrecked car. Stephen leaves behind the corpse of William (Michael York), whose frozen face becomes a recurring image. Flashbacks take us back to when Anna and William first become Stephen’s pupils. Stephen is a repressed husband going through a middle-life crisis with a variety of frustrated ambitions. He has two kids, a wife Rosalind (Vivien Merchant) who is pregnant with a third, and the growing family resides in an elegant rural home. (Too bad philosophy professors are not as well compensated today.) As Stephen first meets and begins to tutor Anna, he is attracted to her but restrains from making a move. The chief instigator of most of the mischief that follows is another Oxford professor and TV personality Charley (Stanley Baker). Stephen and Charlie have an adversarial friendship which resembles a war, they are typically hostile to each other and openly competitive. Young William, an aristocrat, is athletic and vital. He never learns the Awful Truth about his new circle of friends. “The Accident” seems to be portraying several pairs of dopplegangers, with the struggle between Stephen and Charley the featured one. Stephen is intensely jealous of Charlie but is stymied from catching up. Stephen mimics his rival by having his own extra-marital affair as well as attempting to appear on television. Rosalind and Anna are also two of a kind; they both facilitate Stephen’s infidelity. (Rosalind’s lack of concern to her husband over whether he is cheating seems dreamlike.) William, who is often in motion, has no human counterpart but sort of reminds us of the family dog, who we see fetch a ball once or twice. Stephen’s two children have matching speech, etc. Watching Stephen vs. Charley is mesmerizing. Dick Bogarde is an amazing actor. He reminds me of a less physical, more everyman-version of Marlon Brando. (Brando merged with Al Pacino?) There is often a primal quality with Bogarde’s delivery that is stunning. Stanley Baker, who possessed a much-reviewed face (i.e., the consensus seems to be that he is as frightening as he is handsome), is another teapot that is always about to boil over. As with “The Servant (1963, Losey-Pinter)”, there is a role reversal coming between two evenly matched, perpetually competing males. The cinematography employs muted colors, contributing to a sense of gloom. Losey has a visual leitmotiv. He often frames points of interest between verticals and horizontals which reduce the effective frame size. When he does this we immediately recall William’s deceased face, which is also restricted in the frame by the car wreckage. At the very minimum, Losey is doing this to remind us what is coming. By the way, I really love the sequence where Stephen has an affair with Francesca. The lovers are filmed silently with their conversation overdubbed. It creates a uniquely dreamlike experience. This Losey and Pinter collaboration takes patience but will be enjoyed by cinemaphiles. However, please don’t drive over to The revival theater showing this after having guzzled whiskey like a 1960s-era Oxford philosophy professor.
Country: United Kingdom
Duration: 105 min
Also known as: Το Τρίγωνο των Αμαρτωλών,Accident,Nehoda,L’incidente,Estranho Acidente,Accident – Zwischenfall in Oxford,Onnettomuus,Dekigoto,Wypadek,できごと,Het ongeval,Extraño accidente,Acidente Estranho,Baleset,Kaza gecesi,Acidente,Ulykkesnatten,Accidente,To trigono ton amartolon,Несчастный случай,Kraschen,Olyckan