Movie review : The final cut

Be the editor of your life

Editing lives

I watched this movie last week : The final cut. I would define it as an organic SF movie. Probably my favorite genre. Same aura as Eternal sunshine, but unfortunately with a weaker scenario. Organic because it’s one of those movies where technology is part of life, and not obviously futuristic, I like that. In this movie, the computers were wooden, and their look and feel was very retro, old, almost anti-technological, it was very interesting to observe.

I like the idea that technology could be embedded in your furniture and fade in your environment. I like the idea that technology could be something not fragile, not a sign of wealth or advancement. I like the idea that technology could be for everyone.

However even if organic in its form, technology was still depicted in the movie as a threat or something evil like in most SF movies. But here its evilness was less obvious as it was not used as a weapon, its evilness was rather more ideological. Should you or shouldn’t you let your life be recorded on an organic implant? Well, what movie would ever tell you that you should?

The context : Privacy and technology

The movie treats the subjects of privacy and technology and life. The story starts in a future where it is the norm to let your life as you see it (not your thoughts) be recorded on a “Zoe” implant that was implanted in your body at your birth. This implant is semi-organic, so as you grow it becomes part of your body and it’s impossible to remove. People don’t know if they have an implant or not and know it very late, after 21 when “they’re old enough to understand”. Implanting the child is a choice of the parents, and the implant is a commercial product that you buy for your child. But you have to do it at the child’s birth. Interesting context, isn’t it?

The plot

The story is about a “cutter” whose job is to edit people’s lives from their Zoe footage (recorded from the implant) after they die, so that they would leave a good memory to their beloved ones during a “rememory” ceremony. So only good moments are preserved, and as the “cutter” views the people’s lives he edits the bad moments out. To know where to look in the life feed, he needs to talk with people who knew the person and who can point him to the most important events of the person’s life.

I didn’t quite well follow the story and I didn’t find it as interesting as the overall context. For example, when the “cutter” views all the lives of people, there is always a caption written at the bottom of the image “P.Ovalle : 7 years : 80 days : 19 hours” corresponding to the person’s name and “timestamp of existence”. It’s very weird, and a bit sad, it reminds you that your life is very finite. This subject is very related to my articles Please format me, and articles on self portals, it’s very relevant regarding the use we have of the Internet. Here the format is also the same for everyone : a timestamped video footage from birth to death that you don’t own.

There is something interesting the “cutter” says :

I didn’t invent technology. If people didn’t want it, they wouldn’t buy it, it fulfills a human need.

I think that sums up really well the current situation. It’s true. Then a rebel says

There is no way to measure the profound effect the Zoe implant has had on the way people relate with each other. What about the simple right not to be photographed? or the right not to pop up in some guys rememory without even knowing you were being filmed.

It’s true too. The thing is, what can you do when someone points their camera in your direction trying to get the monument behind you? You’re on their photograph but maybe you don’t know it, or you can’t really do anything, you can’t stop people from recording their life.


For me the idea that you would record your life is fine as long as you are the only editor of your life and the only one accessing and sharing your bits of life. The problem of course with technology is that inherently you cannot fully trust it for this kind of use. Indeed digital information can be accessed and shared very quickly and it’s not really traceable, so there can always be doubt whether you really are the owner of your information or not.

This subject also reminds me of my article “Technology as a life recorder“. In this article, I liked the idea of using technology to record your life, and I still do. But it doesn’t have anything to do with this dystopian scenario where people would lose their freedom because of technology. Rather, my idea was more that the act of recording is a human need, you want to remember some moments, and those are the moments that you record. Who is going to record the embarrassing moments of their life? No one. The act of recording is intentional, it means you are ready to share the moment and show it, you are generally proud of what you are recording. So this has nothing to do with a continuous recording of anything. I think that to record moments that you love and that you really want to remember, technology is the best candidate for that use. I like the idea of technology as a life recorder on user demand. Of course it should always be your choice, and you should always be the owner. Of course. But I hate the idea that someone would use your life feed and edit it to define what you are in some kind of format that you didn’t chose and never asked for. That idea is really horrible.

Anyway this subject is very contemporary, it’s always interesting to think about it. Everyone has their life feeds: blogs, books, diaries, other people, etc. people all have their own way of sharing their life, technology is just one of them. And for a certain use that is highly personal I think it’s the best candidate. With it you can record more, you can edit more, you can remember more and even better. You just need to always be sure you are the only editor of your life.

Here are some screenshots from the movie, I really like that retro style :