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The story of a nobody everybody is watching 

Year: 1998 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

EdTV is a strange - but successful - mix of a high concept film and a romantic comedy. The high concept is a real-life twenty-four seven soap opera, which picks as its victim the thirtysomething slacker Ed Pekurny. Delighted at the opportunity to get rich and famous just for being himself, Ed allows a camera crew to invade his life. He discovers, of course, that fame and fortune come with strings attached. Not really a new idea, but thankfully the film doesn’t go about telling us this in a obvious way. Well, not too obvious. There is complicated romance, and gentle comedy, and the film ends - of course - happily.

EdTV is not a work of genius, but it is well-crafted and diverges from formula enough to retain interest. The scriptwriters have resisted the temptation to tack on a subplot about one of the characters being in trouble with the IRS, and instead take the time to put in some real characterisation. Ed’s family are not perfect, but they’re not overly dysfunctional; they have problems, they have arguments, they might well be your family.

The film’s attack on the insidious power of television has earned comparisons to The Truman Show. Suprisingly, nobody has remembered that there are other films about television. And nobody has remembered that before television ruled our lives, films held the same kind of power - and that dozens of films were made about plays and the theatre, and even about films themselves, that were just as suspicious of the destructive potential of escapist entertainment.

What is most interesting about EdTV, though, is its contradictions. It condemns media intrusion and the way that it panders to the worst kind of public voyeurism, but it never stops to question itself. Don’t Hollywood films do exactly the same thing? They might not show ‘real life’, the stories are often completely divorced from reality, but aren’t they satisfying a public demand too?

So the film isn’t perfect. But in the end, it’s just like Ed himself - a bit scruffy, slightly rough around the edges, but still managing to be endearing, with a rather large dose of ‘heart of gold’ charm.

Katherine Shaw

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Screenings of this film:

1999/2000 Spring Term (35mm)
1999/2000 Spring Term (35mm)
1999/2000 Spring Term (35mm)
1999/2000 Spring Term (35mm)