Dr. Emma Porlock and her colleagues, attempting to unlock the secrets of human memory for the Masdon drug empire, get a cryogenically stored 400-year-old human head to project its memories ... See full summary »
Dr. Emma Porlock and her colleagues, attempting to unlock the secrets of human memory for the Masdon drug empire, get a cryogenically stored 400-year-old human head to project its memories through virtual reality displays. But Porlock and her team are chronically under-funded, and she may have to go around Masdon to a media sleaze merchant to get the money she needs to maintain the project. But an even more complex world of secret police, RON (Reality-Or-Nothing) riots, and murder is going on outside the lab. And the deeper Porlock goes into the frozen memories of the writer Daniel Feeld, the more twisted the labyrinth of intrigue becomes. Written by
When Dr. Glazunov destroys Daniel Feeld's frozen head at the end, the wall screen still displays his voyage through the tunnel of light to heaven, despite not being plugged into anything any more. See more »
This miniseries is a fitting capstone to a brilliant and unique career. In Karaoke, Dennis Potter gave us a heartbreakingly personal look at the end of Daniel Feeld's life; A writer of surreal musical miniseries for TV feels like he is losing control over his written work, both literally (as his words break free and get spoken by real people surrounding him) and metaphorically, as the director of his latest screenplay tries to refashion it in his own image.
In Cold Lazarus, the situation is somewhat reversed. The setting and basic storyline are, by comparison to Karaoke, quite impersonal. The sci-fi "dystopia" is well done and entertainingly campy, with some real strokes of brilliance (the "Reality or Nothing" terrorists who fight the media's dominance), but it's hardly as personal or unique as a typical Potter drama's set-up.
But ironically, the struggle that Daniel Feeld (now only a head, frozen for four hundred years) faces in Cold Lazarus is far more personal, as he literally loses control of his own life and is forced to re-live his own painful memories, without the ability to edit them or filter them through his own creative processes.
The metaphor is set up for us by Feeld's dying words, which we hear in the first segment: "No biography". While Dennis Potter always drew from his own life to a large degree in his writing, he apparently did not relish the idea of other writers attempting to pick through his real life.
Fortunately for us, though, he was (as always) not nearly as reticent about interpreting or re-casting his own life for us. As a contrast to the sci-fi sequences, he presents us with our final glimpse of childhood in his beloved Forest of Dean, in a series of flashbacks that may even as personal as any of the similar scenes in The Singing Detective.
The first time I saw Cold Lazarus, it didn't really grab me, but since seeing it a second time, its story and ideas have stuck in my brain to a huge degree. As I say, it is truly a fitting "final opus" for one of the most distinctive and creative writers of the 20th century; hopefully one day soon, this work (and many more of Potter's creations) will be available on DVD.
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