The Final Programme (1973) (DVD review).

I watched this movie, ‘The Final Programme’, almost 40 years ago, in the spirit of the age in which it was released and intended, and I must say I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the translation of Michael Moorcock’s novel. The main character, Jerry Cornelius (Jon Finch), just isn’t the same as the author intended, so much so that I think he was hijacked and brutally transformed just to make a movie. Now all these years later and watching it for the first time since then, my impression hasn’t really changed. In fact, I found the process rather tiresome and I didn’t really enjoy watching it at all. It is terribly dated, I must admit, and the ending is rather flat.


Without really being able to talk about the novel, which this isn’t, it’s worth concentrating on the movie to see what’s going on. Best of all, watch it with no reference to anything else and take it as a stand-alone movie. The overall tone is rather flippant and nihilist, making the entire proceedings come out to be rather inconsequential and, by the time you come to the end of almost 90 minutes of this sort of stuff, you cannot really be bothered about how it turns out.

It begins with a strange funeral in a wasteland. Coming and going by helicopter, Jerry Cornelius attends the funeral of, as it is later revealed, his father. Burning on top of wooden stakes, the father turns to smoke and ashes. Taking quite some time to get organised to a point, the viewer by this time will have been reduced to yawning, we discover eventually that with mankind falling apart into disorder, a new programme has been developed for the next phase of human evolution and Jerry Cornelius, Nobel prize winner and lots of other things combined, will be the inheritor of the programme. The question is: what will he do with it, especially as other matters such as the family home seemed to be occupying his time? The answer is the programme is in his house!

Complicating the plot, we discover that Jerry Cornelius has a brother, almost the opposite of himself. This alcoholic drug-crazed lunatic wants to put a spanner in his works and that’s the main plot to the story. It’s a sort of twisted good versus evil, embodied essentially in the same person. We begin to wonder if Jerry and his brother are really all that different.

Admittedly, the DVD gives you lots of extras which include a full frame version of the movie showing it as it was actually filmed, plus PDFs, images and trailers. No problem here with a lack extra material. It’s a pity the movie is a lot of rubbish.

As to the final programme itself, seems to be something that transforms a man and a woman into one being, a self-replicating hermaphrodite. The comedy is rather like ‘A Clockwork Orange’, with Miss Bruner, one of the nastiest characters to be seen, consuming all her lovers. Basically, it’s not very funny and the ending is one which is rather pointless to say the least. Watching this movie was a waste of 90 minutes.

Not really one for me, as you can probably judge by now, but there will be others who will enjoy this resurrected piece of nonsense.

Rod MacDonald

September 2013

(region 2 DVD: pub: Network B00E3S636K. 1 DVD 86 minute film plus extras. Price: £ 8.27 (UK))

cast: Jon Finch, Harry Andrews, Jenny Runacre, Julie Ege and Hugh Griffith

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released: 07 October 2013

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