restricted access Class and Anticolonial Politics in Harold Pinter and Joseph Losey’s The Servant

Critics of The Servant (1963), based on the 1948 novel by Robin Maugham, have not examined the London-set film’s many allusions to the global South. However, the screenwriter’s and director’s archives as well as many aspects of the film—including wardrobe, set design, music, and dialogue—reveal the significance of these references. Departing from Maugham’s novel, Pinter and Losey portray the master as an African plantation owner’s son with a plan to “clear the jungle” in Brazil. These additions to the narrative connect domestic servitude and abuses of power within Britain to the international division of labor established during colonial conquest and align the film’s class commentary with the anticolonial movements underway in the 1960s.