In the middle of February 1994, Dennis Potter was told that he had cancer of the pancreas and only had a few months to live. He began to wind up practical and financial problems and discovered that the most important thing for him to do was to complete the two TV-series he had undertaken to write, Karaoke and Cold Lazarus. Both were intended to be six episodes long. Dennis Potter made a very detailed schedule. He calculated how many episodes he could write every day, from the time that the morphine had alleviated his pain to when he had taken so much that his consciousness was affected. He questioned his doctors about how much time he had left, he added and divided. 480 pages in five days - he would be finished in mid April, giving him a reasonably wide margin if the doctor’s prognosis was correct.At five o’clock on the morning of 1 March 1994 Dennis Potter wrote the word ”KARAOKE” on a white title page. His earlier draft was wide open, but he kept the same name for his main character: Daniel Feeld. He is a writer. He knows that he does not have long to live. He drinks and smokes unrestrainedly and his whole life is unstable: he feels that long sentences he has written or planned to write has somehow escaped from him and attached themselves to his surroundings. ”I wrote that!” he can shout at the pub when he hears a dispute at the table next to his. Fiction and reality have become blurred for him and his own life has become a mirror-image of his writings - or the other way round.Dennis Potter called his condition ”horisontal vertigo” and made Daniel Feeld his companion. Despite the similarity in circumstances one should not see Feeld as a self-portrait. As so often in his works - for example in The Singing Detective and Blue Remembered Hills Potter uses environments he has himself experienced and other superficial attributes, but he fills them with new content. The detective is suffering from the same disabling psoriasis as himself, the children in war-time Blue Remembered Hills are born in the same year as he was, Feeld is already dying from cancer and it invites one to see Potter’s work as more auto-biographical than it is.Karaoke was meant for the BBC, Cold Lazarus for their competitors Channel 4. The draft to Cold Lazarus is completely different from Karaoke - in Cold Lazarus Potter writes for the first time about the future, the year 2368 to be more exact. He combines here two contemporary phenomenon - virtual reality and cryogenics - ie refrigeration. It is about people who allow themselves to be frozen shortly before death in order to be defrosted when mankind has discovered a cure for their illness.Dennis Potter has said how difficult it was for him to resist Cold Lazarus while he was writing Karaoke. One sleepless night he had a stroke of genius: Cold Lazarus is the TV series the worried Daniel Feeld writes whilst waiting to die!Year 2368 Daniel Feeld’s head is defrosted in its box. Electrodes are connected to it, brain cells are stimulated, memories are awoken and visualized and they become a part of an enormous force in the entertainment industry. Dennis Potter was writing Cold Lazarus when he gave his final TV interview on April 4 1994. He ended by talking about his work with it: ”When I am writing then I write flat out. Then it feels as though I can say exactly what I want to say and what the world needs to know. The only thing which would really make me sad would be if I died with only four pages left. If only I can finish this then I’ll happily disappear for good. Since learning that I would die, I haven’t been afraid for one second. I know that maybe I’m going to die in maybe four weeks or more. Maybe in ten, even if the diagnosis shows that I ought to be dead already. I know what’s been keeping me going. I’m full of the same feeling as when I wrote The Singing Detective and Pennies From Heaven. Only I feel it even stronger now.”Dennis Potter died on 7 June 1994. In his will he stated that Karaoke and Cold Lazarus were to be made as co-productions between the competitors Channel 4 and the BBC. He also wanted Albert Finney to play Daniel Feeld, which is what happened.

Titel
Cold Lazarus
Regissör
Renny Rye
Längd
220 min
Festival
1996
Sektion
Collage
Språk
English
Produktionsår
1996
Skådespelare
Albert Finney, Francesca de la Tour, Diane Ladd
Producent
Kenith Trodd & Rosemarie Whitman
Manus
Dennis Potter
Musik
Christopher Gunning

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