Film (1979; vt Death Watch). Selta Film/Little Bear/Sara Film/Gaumont/Antenne 2/TV 15. Coproduced and directed by Bernard Tavernier, starring Romy Schneider, Harvey Keitel, Harry Dean Stanton, Max Von Sydow. Screenplay David Rayfiel, Tavernier, based on The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (1974; rev vt The Unsleeping Eye 1974; vt Death Watch 1981) by D G Compton. 130 minutes. Colour.
This French/West German coproduction chose, perhaps eccentrically, to locate its Dystopian city of the future in Glasgow, and the film was shot in English. In a bored Near Future where illness has been almost eradicated, death has an obscene fascination. A television station, keen to broadcast a real-life soap opera, sends cameraman Roddy (Keitel) to film, without her knowledge, the last days of Katherine (Schneider), who helps Computers write romantic novels and who is dying of a rare disease; this is achieved by surgically implanting in his skull a camera that operates through his eyes. The evocation of the future is perfunctory: just a dash of urban blight. Attention is tremulously on the morbid relationship of invalid and cameraman. He blinds himself; she (who, we and she discover, is not really dying at all) commits suicide. As an attack on Media invasion of privacy – a popular subject in sociological sf – this suffers from morbid overkill, itself reminiscent of soap opera. [PN]
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