I’m not sure I’ve seen A Man for All Seasons all the way through. It certainly has some great cast members. In this case, I think that cast goes along with a good movie as well.
No so much in the case of the sci-fi drama, Death Watch, which features Harvey Keitel, Harry Dean Stanton,. and Max von Sydow. I found it on the DustX channel on my Roku.
This could have been good. But the ending is a flop and the basic premise regarding Keitel’s character is the kind of gimmick that might come up in a college dorm bull session but would quickly be dropped when real adults considered things.
Real adults apparently did not consider things. So what we end up is Harvey Keitel, as reporter Roddy, having his eyes basically removed and replaced by cameras that could broadcast images back to the office where they could record them and edit them into TV footage.
First off, if you could miniaturize a camera like this, why not put it in his lapel button? Worse is the horrendously stupid gimmick that unless Keitel keeps light on his eyes, he’ll go blind. For some reason this also necessitates him taking a drug so that he never has to sleep. Why he couldn’t just sleep with a bright light shinning on his closed eyelids is never brought up.
Stupid stupid stupid. This is all done in a world where disease has been totally conquered (but not apparently urbane blight which seems incongruous). Kietel is given this camera implantation specifically so that he can film the death of Katherine Mortenhoe (played okay by Romy Schneider).
In this world it is such an unusual thing for someone to die of anything but an accident or old age, these journalists have a show called “Death Watch.” Whether they started this show just for Katherine Mortenhoe or it was ongoing, I missed that point. Like I said, there’s very much a low amateurish bent to this film despite some of the big names.
First they have to get Katherine to agree to letting journalists into her home and life, etc., so that they can chronicle her deterioration. She resists, but finally accepts, and then skips out on them. More amateurish plotting develops as Keitel then comes in surreptitiously, befriending Katherine while she is out on the road trying to void her contract.
Every moment they have together, of course, Keitel is filming with his camera eyes. So he had this surgery just on the chance that Katherine would agree to a contract and then run away so that a kind man would have a chance to befriend her and capture her death anyway?
The movie, Truman, does all this much better. However, Death Watch actually has some good moments between Keitel and Romy Scheneider, but it all takes place within a really stupid set of assumptions.
And the ending….well, no spoiler alert needed because there’s something wrong with you if you want to watch this after my description. What happens is that Katherine Mortenhoe was never ever sick to begin with. Her doctor was simply in cahoots with the television programmers. The doctor told her she had a few months to live but oh, by the way, take these pills to deal with the pain.
Well, it was the pills that were making her feel ill in the first place. This whole situation was designed for ratings. Whether they would have taken it to the point of her death is somewhat unclear. In the end, Harry Dean Stanton (the mastermind of all this) tells her that she’s not going to die and that she can just stop taking the pills and all will be fine.
So what does she do? Of course. Why not? She takes an overdose of the pills and kills herself. Why? Why not. It makes as much sense as anything else in this horrid movie. This is one of those cases where it really is apt to say, “I wish I had those two hours of my life back.” In truth, this was mostly on in the background (at least in the latter half of it) while I read a book or articles on the web. You could look up from time to time and think, “Oh. She took pills and killed herself? Okay. Back to my book.”
Max von Sydow’s part in this is small and comes near the end. He’s actually pretty good in this. But he makes no sense being there. This movie is just a patched together mess from beginning to end. They must have been smoking dope in the beginning, middle, and end of this production.