A dystopian science fiction picture shot in cinemascope, Bertrand Tavernier’s Death Watch is based on David G. Compton’s The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, a 1974 novel about a not-too-distant future in which audiences feast on voyeuristic TV.
The protagonist, reporter Roddy (Harvey Keitel), has cameras implanted in his eyes so that he can follow the last days of a terminally-ill writer, Katherine (Romy Schneider) for a prime-time series produced by Vincent Ferriman (Harry Dean Stanton) for the NTV network.
Set amongst the grey and drizzly landscape of Glasgow, Roddy finds himself drawn closer to Katherine and, when his eye cameras malfunction rendering him blind, he joins with her to track down her first husband, Gerald Mortenhoe (Max von Sydow) at his home on the Scottish coast where he has been writing classical music and getting drunk on whisky for the last six years.
It transpires that Katherine’s “fatal” disease has been made up by callous TV executive Ferriman just to have her as a contestant on his TV show.
Watch out for Robbie Coltrane as a limousine driver in his first movie role.
Harry Dean Stanton
Max von Sydow
Eva Maria Meineke