The Fallen Idol by Carol Reed (UK, 1948, 95 min.). The story unfolds through the eyes of Phile, the 7-year-old son of a British diplomat. Although Phile is afforded every luxury, like all children he is isolated by a natural selfishness and naiveté which blocks him from understanding the problems and emotions of the adults around him. Phile’s only friend is the family butler, Baines, who entertains him with games and wild stories of his (fictitious) adventures in Africa. When Phile glimpses Baines through the window of a café with his young mistress, the child is compelled to keep the secret from Baines’ wife, the housekeeper. In this way Phile becomes an accomplice in the affair and enters a complex world of adult morality that will change him forever.
Adapted from his short story The Basement Room, The Fallen Idol was Greene’s first collaboration with director Carol Reed. Innocence as confinement is a central theme in both story and film. It is translated from words into images through Reed’s brilliant use of stairway railings and barred windows, which imprison the child in several shot compositions.
Presented on 35mm film.