Death Watch (Tavernier, 1979): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 5.50 and 8.20pm
This film is on an extended run at BFI Southbank from 4-14 June. Details here.
Little White Lies magazine review:
'This fascinating and flawed fifth feature from Bertrand Tavernier combines ’80s class-war politics and media exploitation with an homage to such kitchen sink sci-fi as Godard’s Alphaville and Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451. Set in a semi-dilapidated Glasgow of the future, well-to-do author
Katherine Mortenhoe (the always- scintillating Romy Schneider) is
selected as a patsy by an ethically unscrupulous TV network to star in
their hit reality series, Death Watch. In this proposed future, all diseases have been cured and so the
(predominantly bourgeois) viewing public have become numbed to the
experience of watching someone die. With a video camera surgically
implanted into his left eye, ace investigative reporter Roddy (Harvey
Keitel) wheedles his way into Katherine’s life after she’s been
diagnosed with some spurious, life-threatening illness and, at the wont
of his sleazy paymaster, Vincent (Harry Dean Stanton), keeps the camera
rolling. While it’s easy to draw parallels between Death Watch
and the largely execrable deluge of reality TV that fugs up our dials,
this presents a more flagrantly voyeuristic take on the phenomenon.
Tavernier and writer David Rayfiel (adapting DG Compton’s 1973 novel,
‘The Unsleeping Eye’) are interested in the willingness of cultural
elites to abuse and disavow the taboo of death for their own ill-gotten
gains. It’s a metaphor that Tavernier cleverly stretches to both the police
and government as the grubby Glasgow he depicts is rife with fear,
crime, poverty and death.'
Here is the trailer.