The Final Programme (film)

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The Final Programme
Final programme.png
Directed by Robert Fuest
Produced by John Goldstone
Sandy Lieberson
executive
Nat Cohen
Roy Baird
David Puttnam
Written by Robert Fuest
Based on novel by Michael Moorcock
Starring Jon Finch
Jenny Runacre
Hugh Griffith
Patrick Magee
Production
  company
Goodtimes Enterprises
Gladiole Films
Distributed by Anglo-EMI Film Distributors Ltd./MGM-EMI Distributors Ltd. (UK)
New World Pictures (US)
Release date(s) 4 October 1973 (UK)
1974 (US)
Running time 94 mins (UK)
76 mins (US)
Country UK
Language English

The Final Programme is a 1973 British fantasy science fiction-thriller film directed by Robert Fuest, and starring Jon Finch and Jenny Runacre. It was based on the first Jerry Cornelius novel (also called The Final Programme) by Michael Moorcock. It was distributed in the United States and elsewhere as The Last Days of Man on Earth.

Plot synopsis[edit]

The story starts with the funeral of Jerry Cornelius's father, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who has developed the "Final Programme"—a design for a perfect, self-replicating human being.

A group of scientists including Dr. Smiles and the formidable Miss Brunner (who consumes her lovers) try to persuade Cornelius to locate the microfilm containing his father's Final Programme, which is believed to be hidden somewhere in a family-owned house.

Things are further complicated by the apparent disappearance of Cornelius's sister, Catherine; the activities of his evil brother, Frank; and the involvement of other characters such as his old friend "Shades", and "Little Miss Dazzle", originally a singer.

The attack on the old house commences, with many traps to be breached, until Jerry finally confronts Frank, and a fight ensues. In the process, Catherine is killed, Jerry wounded, and Frank falls into the hands of Miss Brunner. She forces him to open the vaults, but he outsmarts her and gets away.

After Jerry recuperates, he again meets Miss Brunner, who introduces him to her new friend, Jenny. They plot to go and find Frank but in the meantime, Jenny is consumed by Miss Brunner. When they find Frank, another fight ensues, and this time Frank is killed and Miss Brunner takes Cornelius and the microfilm to Lapland, "Daddy's summer resort".

There, the scientists put the Final Programme into operation, in a process that involves combining Miss Brunner with another person to form an hermaphroditic all-purpose human being. At the last minute, Brunner chooses Cornelius over the previously designated participant. The scientists of the project, working against time, scramble to re-calibrate their experiment for Cornelius. He is placed inside a large chamber with Brunner and bathed by solar radiation. Forces are unleashed that kill the scientists. A single being emerges from the chamber, - the result of the experiment is supposedly a new Messiah, but is actually a rather dumpy looking caveman.

Reception[edit]

Baird Searles found the film "an almost unmitigated disaster," with "an ending so inane that you will want your money back even if you wait and see it on television."[1]

On its DVD/Blu-ay release in the UK in 2013, The Guardian wrote " Director Robert Fuest was responsible for the pop-surrealism of The Avengers and the twisted art deco of Vincent Price's Dr Phibes movies, and here he makes sure every frame looks stunning, throwing so much in to please and confuse the eye, often at the cost of narrative coherence. But who cares when the movie is full of cryptic, sly humour and endlessly inventive imagery, such as an amusement arcade where nuns play fruit machines as the world ends."[2]

Cast[edit]

DVD[edit]

The film was released on DVD and VHS formats in the US in 2001 by Anchor Bay Entertainment. The Anchor Bay DVD featured a remastered print of the film, which could be played with an audio commentary featuring director Fuest and star Runacre. Other special features on this DVD included the American theatrical trailer and TV spot, and an insert replica of the British poster. The Anchor Bay DVD is now out-of-print and hard-to-find, with existing copies retailing up to £100 on sites such as Amazon.

On 7 October 2013, Network Distributing released the film on DVD in the UK. The Network DVD is presented in a brand-new transfer from the original film elements, featuring both the 1.77:1 theatrical ratio and the full frame, as-filmed version of the main feature. Special features include original theatrical trailers, an Italian title sequence, image gallery, and promotional material in PDF format.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Films," F&SF, April 1975, p.90-1.
  2. ^ Phelim O'Neill. "The Final Programme, out this week on DVD & Blu-ray | Film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 

External links[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hardy, Phil (1995), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction, Kobal Collection, p. 310-311, ISBN 1-85410-382-2
  • Hochscherf, Tobias & Leggott, James (2011), British Science Fiction Film and Television: Critical Essays, McFarland & Company, Inc., p. 60-72, ISBN 0786446218
  • Hunter, I.Q. (1999), British Science Fiction Cinema (British Popular Cinema), Routledge, p. 210, ISBN 0415168686
  • Willis, Donald C. (1985), Variety's Complete Science Fiction Reviews, Garland Publishing, Inc., p. 304, ISBN 9780824087128