Watch The Ruling Class
- 2 hr 34 min
The Ruling Class, a 1972 film directed by Peter Medak, is a satirical black comedy that explores the decadence and absurdities of the British aristocracy. The movie stars Peter O'Toole, who delivers a remarkable performance as Jack Gurney, the 14th Earl of Gurney, a paranoid schizophrenic who believes he is Jesus Christ. The film also features a cast of talented actors including Alastair Sim and Arthur Lowe.
The story begins with the sudden death of the 13th Earl of Gurney, who leaves behind a vast estate and a hopeful heir, Jack Gurney. However, Jack's mind has been shattered by years of abuse, and he believes that he is the savior of the world. His delusions create chaos in his noble family, who fear they will be disinherited due to Jack's insanity.
The family tries to cure Jack's mental illness with the help of a psychiatrist, Dr. Herder (Michael Bryant), who soon realizes that he is dealing with a unique case. Jack's delusions are intertwined with his social status as a member of the aristocracy, and he refuses to give up his power and title. As the story progresses, Dr. Herder colludes with Jack's scheming uncle, Sir Charles (William Mervyn), to commit Jack to an asylum and prevent him from inheriting the estate.
However, events take a bizarre turn when Jack is accidentally hanged during a costume party, and he comes back to life believing that he is Jack the Ripper. His newfound persona as a murderer only adds to the confusion and madness that has already engulfed his family. The movie climaxes with a bizarre courtroom scene where the family stands trial for their actions towards Jack, with Jack as the judge.
The Ruling Class is a dark satire that exposes the hypocrisy of the British aristocracy and the corrupt nature of power. The character of Jack Gurney is a remarkable portrayal of madness and the lengths one can go to maintain their social status. Peter O'Toole's performance as Jack is unforgettable, and his portrayal of mental illness is both empathetic and humorous.
The film also touches on the themes of religion and power, as Jack's delusions become intertwined with his self-proclaimed divinity. His family's attempts to cure him of his madness mirror the oppressive methods of those who hold power over others. The movie also criticizes the outdated traditions and rituals of the British aristocracy, which are portrayed as meaningless and ridiculous.
The Ruling Class is also notable for its cinematography and soundtrack. The movie has a visually stunning opening sequence that showcases the grandeur and decadence of the British aristocracy. The soundtrack features an eclectic mix of music, ranging from classical to rock, that complements the visual style of the film.
Overall, The Ruling Class is a provocative and entertaining film that critiques the absurdities of power and class in British society. It is a tour-de-force performance by Peter O'Toole and a defining moment in the career of director Peter Medak. The film is a must-see for fans of satire and black comedy, and it remains relevant today in its critique of social hierarchies and the corrupt nature of power.
The Ruling Class is a 1972 comedy with a runtime of 2 hours and 34 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.3.