John Morlar is watching the British television broadcast when an anchorman states that American astronauts are trapped in orbit around the moon. Suddenly someone in Morlar's room picks up a figurine and strikes him on the head repeatedly. His blood splatters the television screen. A French police inspector, Brunel, arrives at Morlar's apartment to begin an investigation. At first he thinks Morlar is dead, but soon he hears him breathe. At the hospital, Morlar is hooked up to life support systems, one machine in particular monitors the activity of his battered brain. Brunel discovers that Morlar has been in psychological analysis because of his history of being witness to many disasters, other people's disasters. Dr. Zonfeld, Morlar's analyst, explains that Morlar's delusions had begun when he was a child. He believed that he had caused a hated nanny's death. Morlar's childhood delusions were reinforced at a resort when he overheard his parents discussing him with disapproval. When his... Written by
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well directed, well cast, excellent adaptation of book
The manner in which the film was chronographed was somewhat unique. In real time the main character, Morlar, is comatized by severe head trauma. In fact the movie opens with his attempted murder. The unfolding of events in the ensuing investigation are presented with smooth transitions from flashback to present in order to create a sense of fatalistic inevitability. The director takes a very difficult path to achieve this but I think he pulled it off very effectively. Look for little tricks to smooth out the staccato chronological transitions. Small similarities between outgoing and incoming scenes create a more seamless effect.Also, the sounds of a former scene would linger for a couple of seconds after the transition, further uniting past & present to emphasize the inevitable hopelessness of the inspectors situation. It also serves to demonstrate Morlar's indomitable, fatalistic will.
All the characters are well (and cleverly)cast, particularly Richard Burton as Morlar. VonGreenway's book comments on the intensity of Morlar's character and his riveting gaze. Burton was obviously intimately familiar with the text as his rendition of Morlar is, to say the least, riveting.
The apocryphal elements added by the director, the cataclysmic disasters vastly improve the story's big-screen appeal, even if they were a bit of a departure from the text. The director simplifies the text by only indirectly referring to Morlar's political agenda. To follow the text in this would be setting up an entirely different story and would distract from the immediacy of the peril Morlar represents for the inspector and the psychiatrist.
The "tongue in cheek" manner in which these two meet serves to show a comprehensive understanding of the text, it gives clear notice (to those familiar with the book) the text cannot realistically be followed in every way. "I'm sorry I was expecting a man." the inspector explains his reaction to her. "That's alright, I was expecting an English Inspector." She responds. This, of course, was a reference to the characters as they appeared in the book.
This is a well directed film, making sense of a difficult text in an acceptable time frame. Richard Burton was an excellent choice as Morlar, he has a dominating presence that lends well to the character. These things along with an excellent rendition of a sensational, compelling story make the Medusa Touch one of the best suspense films ever.
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