Roddy has a camera implanted in his brain. He is then hired by a television producer to film a documentary of terminally ill Katherine, without her knowledge. His footage will then be run on the popular TV series, “Death Watch”.
Among the many powerful moments in this film, I was particularly taken by scenes beginning in the tavern when Roddy watches his video of Katherine, turns in disgust, runs toward the shack, stops short, screams, and tosses his "flashlight" away. It was seamless, with the underscoring -- did I hear chords from Mozart's Requiem? -- by Duhamel building to the climax. Romy Schneider was luminous, as always.
Not until CHILDREN OF MEN decades later, has a concept out of a poor man's PK Dick book or a sillier episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE been executed this serious this effectively by an abnormally (to subject matter), talented director and cast than DW.
Tavernier's 'Death Watch' is a fascinating film that predates/predicts reality TV in a future where disease has been mostly cured causing death to be the new taboo. The 'tech' side of the film may be dated now but the story holds up surprisingly well. Casting is offbeat and that works to the film's advantage as well.
They had no way of imagining the future of computers. In this one they had an A.I. tape recorder. The idea of putting something in him that could blind him is ridiculous. They couldn't imagine a tiny video recorder that you could put on a pair of glasses? Even the spy shows were more imaginative with the use of pendants. I know you're supposed to ignore that stuff, but the emotional content was so contrived.
It is too bad that this screenplay was not fretted over sufficiently so's to have been able to maximize its potentials. Especially in the late going. Lazes over the finish line. But this is indelible stuff. Burned into my grey matter. Electrically imprinted. I'll be summoning it in dreams. It is, above all else, a masterfully directed movie. Full stop. If the writing falters, the world it establishes is ineffaceable.
This is a unique and thought provoking film that is not far off from where we are today. A very understated film that at times feels like Wim Wenders directed it. Romy Schneider really shines here and Harvey Keitel gives a marvelous performance that is very sensitive. A true gem that should be seen by all.
Strong cast, Romy Schneider and Harvey Keitel shine. It's worth watching for the unique dystopian feel and moody locations - so interesting to see some of 1979's Glasgow... Despite the great performances, the plot stands out in a bad way, the sci-fi element seems unnecessary, some of the ideas slightly silly to say the least. The cinematography is gorgeous, but then again the use of tracking shots feels out of place.
Highly evocative dystopian meditation on the society of the spectacle set though in a naturalistic setting (the exterior shots are superb) with elegant touches about social dislocation in the urban shots. Finely acted by an eclectic ensemble (Schneider, as always, glows) this gem provides an astute judgment on the dignity of the person against the technological simulacra that pervade a pitiful modernity. Great!