La Mort en Direct (Death Watch)

Year: 1979

Production: Selta Film / Little Bear / Sara Film / Gaumont / Antenne 2 / TV 15

Director: Bernard Tavernier

Starring: Romy Schneider, Harvey Keitel, Harry Dean Stanton, Max Von Sydow

Screenwriter: David Rayfiel, Bernard Tavernier

Based on The Unsleeping Eye (1974) by D.G. Compton

130 minutes; Color


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 tv station, keen to broadcast a real-life soap opera, sneds 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.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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