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”.
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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.
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.
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.
Just realized that Geza von Radvanyi was a co-scriptwriter of this endearing work by Tavernier that included the late Romy Schneider. I rate this film as the second best work of Tavernier, next only to his debut film "The Clockmaker of St. Paul."
"Everything's of interest, but nothing matters." So Katherine tells the unscrupulous Vincent, wonderfully portrayed by Schneider and Stanton, respectively. To see this film now when personal autonomy, dignity and privacy are being steadily eroded was a major mindfuck, esp. when the film's future is basically now yet the aesthetic is clearly turn-of-decade bygone.