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.
The Oxford Professor of Philosophy Stephen (Sir Dirk Bogarde) has two favorite pupils, the athletic aristocrat William (Michael York) and the Austrian Anna von Graz (Jacqueline Sassard). Stephen is a frustrated man, with a negligent wife, Rosalind (Vivien Merchant), who is pregnant of their third child, and is envious of the Oxford professor Charley (Stanley Baker), who has a television show. Stephen feels attracted to Anna, but William woos her and she becomes his girlfriend. Charley has a love affair with Anna, but when things go wrong, Anna must leave town.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Anna character is meant to be Austrian, but speaks with a (Jacqueline Sassard's native) French accent. See more »
[reading from learned journal]
A statistical analysis of sexual intercourse at Colenso University, Milwaukee showed... that 70% did it in the evening, 29.9% between 2 and 4 in the afternoon and 0.1% during a lecture on Aristotle.
I'm surprised to hear that Aristotle is on the syllabus in the State of Wisconsin.
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I can't agree with one reviewer here who states that "Accident" is the best of the Losey-Pinter collaborations. I much prefer "The Servant." "Accident" is about just that -- the film begins with a dreadful car crash and Stephen (Dirk Bogarde), an Oxford don, coming to the site and rescuing the young woman, Anna (Jacqueline Sussard) and taking her back to his house. The other occupant is dead.
The story unfolds from there, going back to what led up to this event. Stephen is going through a midlife crisis. He has two children, a pregnant wife, and not quite the success of his friend Charley (Stanley Baker) who has a television show. Stephen finds himself attracted to one of the students he tutors, Anna, but can't quite muster up the courage to approach her. Another student, William (Michael York) is a friend of hers; Stephen can't quite figure out the relationship, even after a night of boozing it up a la Virginia Woolf. Then he finds out something very interesting.
This has to be one of the slowest-moving films on record, filled with those famous Pinter pauses and emotions underneath the surface. And here, they're really underneath. Buried. John Coldstream quotes Michael York in "Dirk Bogarde" about being told "you can't underact," that film is so subtle a medium, the less you do, the better it is. Well, in "Accident," that's been taken to a new art form. York was impressed that while doing the scenes, it didn't come off like they were doing anything until you saw it on film. I don't know what film he saw.
The other problem with this film, and maybe it was just me going into an advanced stage of blindness, which I wasn't aware of, is that the night shots were black. I really couldn't see what was going on.
That all being said, the basic story is certainly a compelling one, of people leading normal, outwardly successful lives, with turgid emotions and unhappiness churning underneath. The scenes after the accident between Sussard and Bogarde are very striking and disturbing, as is the final moment of the film. We are reminded that what's on the surface has nothing to do with what really is in the heart.
"Accident" was a terrible emotional drain on Dirk Bogarde; unfortunately, because of the direction, we don't get to see why. He was a remarkable actor, but like any actor, he's a victim of the director's pacing and concept, not to mention the script he's handed. This could have been much better, right up there with the searing drama of "The Servant." Alas, it isn't.
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