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USA, 1966 (MIFF 1967, Programme 9)

Director: John Frankenheimer

Rich, conservative, and middle-aged, Arthur Hamilton is jolted out of the routine of life by an extraordinary telephone call from a bizarre organization which offers him a chance to buy himself a new identity — a rebirth in appearance and personality. In the lonely strangeness of his second self he finds life no more rewarding than before. When he revolts against the new environment, the end comes with a galvanizing and terrible logicality.

In Seconds, the personality of Frankenheimer emerges substantially. He is attracted by the furtive and insecure aspects of modern life; and the brilliant beginning and end of the film, as science coldly and ruthlessly deludes, have the same unnerving qualities as the Pentagon scenes in Seven Days in May, where everyone is forever spying on someone else. The director is one of the few film-makers sincerely and desperately concerned with the disharmony of our society in this age of built-in obsolescence.

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