The Final Programme (1973)

THE FINAL PROGRAMME (1973)
(a.k.a. THE LAST DAYS OF MAN ON EARTH)
Article #1328 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-2-2004
Posting Date: 4-1-2005
Directed by Robert Fuest
Featuring Jon Finch, Jenny Runacre, Hugh Griffith

After his father dies, Jerry Cornelius finds himself embroiled in a strange quest in which he helps some scientists acquire a microfilm of his father’s work while he seeks revenge on his drug-addled brother for the enslavement of his sister.

This bizarre movie about the creation of a modern messiah was directed by Robert Fuest, who was responsible for the Dr. Phibes movies. If you’re familiar with those movies, you should be able to spot the visual style without a problem. This was based on the first of several novels written by Michael Moorcock about Jerry Cornelius. I remember having read it years ago, and not understanding a word of it (though I had no problems with the sequels). I understand this movie version better, but whether I really like it is another matter. I’m not sure what it’s really trying to do, but whatever it is, it doesn’t quite succeed. It’s not quite as funny as it could be, it’s not quite as exciting as it should be, the eccentric characters are not quite as compelling as they could be, and the curious ending is not quite as satisfying as it needed to be to make me feel that it was worth wading through the confusing story to reach it. On the plus side, the music is quite good and Fuest definitely has a sense of style; I’m just not sure that’s enough to make me give it another shot. It’s interesting enough to make it worth watching once, though, but somehow it falls short of what it could have been.

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