Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Death Watch aka La mort en direct [Blu-ray]


(Bertrand Tavernier, 1980)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Société Française de Production (SFP)

Video: Shout! Factory



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:10:01.460

Disc Size: 23,704,006,752 bytes

Feature Size: 23,265,712,128 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 28th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1562 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1562 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)






Image Gallery

DVD of the Feature





Description: A highly acclaimed French film from 1980, Death Watch was directed by the great French director Bertrand Tavernier (Coup De Torchon, L'Appat, Daddy Nostalgie) and filmed on location in Glasgow, Scotland.

The story is part human drama and part futuristic cautionary tale and focuses primarily on two people: terminally ill Katherine (Romy Schneider, The Most Important Thing: Love, Ludwig) and Roddy (Harvey Keitel, The Duellists, Bad Lieutenant, Reservoir Dogs), who, after having a camera implanted into his brain, is hired by the producer of the TV series Death Watch to film a documentary of Katherine without her knowledge. Both deeply moving and a fascinating look at society in decay, this is a must-see film, and one made even more poignant knowing that star Romy Schneider herself died tragically only two years later at the age of 44.

Also starring Harry Dean Stanton (Repo Man, Paris, Texas), Max von Sydow (The Seventh Seal, The Exorcist) and Robbie Coltrane (Mona Lisa, Cracker).



The Film:

The English-language film, shot entirely in Scotland by the French director, is about the efforts of some TV hustlers in the near future to create the ultimate in a human-interest television series. It's a show called ''Death Watch,'' which seeks out people with terminal diseases, who are paid by the television company for the rights to record the last months of their lives.

At the beginning of the film, Harvey Keitel, as one of the show's star reporters, has just had his left eye replaced by a mini-camera, which not only sends back to the home studio everything he sees, but also records the sound. He's a one-eyed, audio- visual wonder.

Excerpt from NY Times located HERE

Director Bertrand Tavernier provides an unexpected feminist slant to the otherwise standard sci-fi trappings of Death Watch. Harvey Keitel plays a man of the future who has had a camera implanted in his brain. The mechanism, which is endowed with special X-ray properties, is activated by the user's eyes. Keitel is assigned by ruthless TV producer Harry Dean Stanton to secretly probe the subconscious of a dying woman, played by Romy Schneider. Stanton is only interested in the grim spectacle of what goes on inside the brain of someone who knows she's doomed. Keitel, on the other hand, becomes increasingly compassionate--and disgusted by the tawdriness of his assignment--as he stares into Schneider's tortured psyche.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Death Watch is surprisingly impressive on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory easily eclipsing any previous SD releases - on the visual front. Glasgow - where the film was shot - looks wonderful.  The image quality is crisp with frequent depth, solid contrast and strong detail. This is only single-layered but colors are rich and tight. Skin tones show a bit of warm but as a representation of the original - is probably accurate. There is very minor gloss at times. This Blu-ray probably looks like the film and it advances beyond the last DVD editions in several key areas - notably detail and colors.















Audio :

Simple but effective DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1562 kbps. The majority of the film is dialogue (English) with a few more demonstrative effects. No range and a smidgeon of scattered depth but appears to be faithful. No subtitles are offered. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked although the film is available on region 'B' Blu-ray later this year HERE.


Extras :

No extras except a 'Photo Gallery' but there is a single-layered DVD included in the package - also with feature and same extra.



Highly interesting film touching on important emotional and social issues with the science-fiction being less prominent and the 'futuristic' element taking more centre-stage. It tackles the voyeurism of 'Reality TV' a couple of decades in advance. As well as its prescient nature the film has many 'humanistic' positives and I thoroughly enjoyed it on Blu-ray. Even with no extras - which the film truly deserves - this is still very highly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

August 19th, 2012


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






Hit Counter












DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

 CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!