Death Watch DVD
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Directed by Bertrand Tavernier
Produced in 1980
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - European Film
Romy Schneider, Harvey Keitel and Max von Sydow star in this treatise on reality TV and the trivialisation of human existence. It's a chillingly prescient film, writes David Parkinson.
Adapted from David G. Compton's novel The Unsleeping Eye, Death Watch is a chillingly prescient treatise on the future of medicine and technology, the trivialisation of human existence and the use of television as a means of societal control.
Following Jean-Luc Godard's example in Alphaville (1965), Bertrand Tavernier expertly exploits the everyday to ground his sci-fi speculation in the disconcerting reality of a Glasgow that scarcely seems to have benefitted from the brave new world in which illness has been eradicated and the media is devoted to peddling propaganda and distracting the public from the truth.
As a romantic novelist learning she is suffering from a fatal disease, Romy Schneider is touchingly vulnerable. She is also pluckily rebellious as she reneges on a deal to broadcast her demise and forges an alliance with drifter Harvey Keitel, unaware that his left eye is a camera capturing her every thought and deed for an engrossed audience. The denouement becomes a tad melodramatic once Schneider reunites with old flame Max von Sydow, but its warning about audience responsibility is provocative and troubling.
David Parkinson on 14th September 2012
Author of 193 reviews
A dystopian sci-fi drama based on David Compton's novel, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, or The Unsleeping Eye, Death Watch stars Romy Schneider as a terminally ill woman who refuses to be filmed during her last days for a reality TV show. Journalist Roddy (Harvey Keitel) is cajoled by media mogul Vincent Ferriman (Harry Dean Stanton) into having a camera inserted in his brain to record her last days without her knowledge, but as time passes Roddy becomes more sympathetic towards her situation.
Shot in Glasgow, Bertrand Tavernier's stunningly prophetic sci-fi noir is ripe for rediscovery. Opaquely scripted by the brilliant David Rayfiel (Three Days of the Condor, Jeremiah Johnson) and filmed in Glasgow while it was undergoing massive renovation, it is a mad trip into the heart of big brother.
Publisher: Park Circus
Length: 124 mins
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 5th November 2012
Cat No: PC0045
- Exclusive interview with Bertrand Tavernier - 'The Morality of Filmmaking' (39 mins)
- Personal letter from Harvey Keitel to Bertrand Tavernier
- Behind-the-scenes photos' Image gallery
- New theatrical trailer.