Friday, 25 September 2015


HU-MAN, d. Jérôme Laperrousaz (1975)

A group of television executives approach Terence Stamp (playing a po-faced actor called Terence Stamp) with a unique idea for a television show that will blur the lines between entertainment and experimental science. Stamp will be placed in extreme danger and his fear will be transmitted directly to the viewers. The energy of their reactions will be captured and used to power the next phase of the plan, in which Stamp will travel backwards or forwards in time depending on the strength and clarity of their emotions. If he wants to, and if he can retain a positive mental attitude, he may even be able to return. 

It’s not much of a deal on the face of it but fictional Stamp, dealing with the recent suicide of his wife, readily accepts (the real Stamp was in an Indian ashram at this point, decompressing after a very busy sixties, and his onscreen counterpart,  with his pony tail and tai chi exercises, seems on a similar quest). What follows are some extraordinary scenes filmed on the very edges of the natural world, the wild places where man has no place or purpose other than to die: Stamp caught by the incoming tides at Mont St Michel, running back and forth until he stands on a tiny patch of land as the sea quickly engulfs him; hanging precariously out of a helicopter as it flies high over an arctic landscape; waking up at the edge of an active volcano, a lake of seething, spitting lava mere feet away. These set pieces, accompanied by electronic music and Stamp's enigmatic facial expressions are among the most amazing things I've seen on screen.

Hu-Man is both profound and off-hand, and the so called science that underpins it is as much magic as method (the time travel energy is apparently stored in a massive plastic bag). Never mind, it’s the mid-seventies, where good vibes are just as important as good wiring. 

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