Seconds is again one of those old incredible and forgotten mind-blasting movies that seems to clear up, or better to show the shadows immediately preceding and outliving the summer of love.
Maybe the only unsurprising thing about it is that is directed by John Frankenheimer(The Manchurian Candidate, Grand Prix and Ronin). It is a psychedelic neo-noir horror that defies easy classification. On the surface you may recognize the time-honored motifs of the noir hero that wants to start life anew and doesn’t get a chance, that one might even find in Cronenberg’s History of Violence (2005). Otherwise it might be completely something else – an early movie about aggressive and radical lifestyling, about creative outlets and buying yourself into a new life. It is maybe an expression of the USA 60s human potential movement, Esalen Institute, its infinite promise and the commercialization of total renewal. Total renewal may be the other face of the Total Recall coin. It is also about a certain availability for transcending the business world. The uncool business world of the past is ready to buy its way out of financial success and join the cool crowd, the freedom from family ties. Subjectivity is forged inside a new clinic of the true self. Californian psychedelia is in no sense an affair for just the young, the beautiful or the counterculture. It is also that which got postponed inside the companies, the pension-schemes, the securities and real estates. It offered an around-the-corner solution towards total individualism that passes through aesthetic surgery and follows artistic lifestyles. Meet the lifestyle chameleons of the future.. the banker becomes the bachelor painter Malibu beachboy.
The company man, the banker, the middle aged figure of success of the 50s is cast into a world with clinical wonder doctors that will change your identity and shrinks that can shape your personality or tease out your innermost desires and unfulfilled dreams providing a place where you can fake death. Very significant that the hidden entry into this dark wonderland is through a sarcastically named “Honest Arnie” meat-packing abatoire or hall. Before the rebirth, the hero is actually meatified and before his own meat gets reshaped and sculpted he is joining and entering a whole industrial carcass. No little thing indeed if one considers that Henry Ford got his ideas about the line of production from the meat industry, reversing its body disassembling technology into a new form of assembly line that puts together automobile bodies.
Incredible hallucinogenic bad trip camera-work treats the ‘normal’ life of a successful father and banker as beyond dull. It is a sort of trippy dilating and nauseating existence that waits for the next heart-stop, the next apathetic goodnight kiss.
Please watch it as a double feature with the contemporary Loved Ones movie about the Californian funerary industry! If the Loved Ones is about making a living out of death, then, 66 seconds is about becoming a “Reborn” inside the belly of life industries – and i am not talking about biotech. Life industries understood as life insurance companies, wellness spas, health farms, all those organizations and companies that deal with the technics of the living. What if the world around you is just composed by “employees” that are there to please you or other Reborns – just like yourself ready “fit in” and protect their new status.