The third of William Klein’s ‘delirious fictions’ (the others being Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? and Mr Freedom) prefigures the reality show. In all three films the television set is a motif through which the characters watch themselves and are watched and manipulated by others. The growing presence of celebrity culture, media surveillance and televisual hyperreality seems to dominate Klein’s fictional worlds.

In The Model Couple, The French Ministry of the Future chooses two of the most average men and women to inhabit a prototype living space for the ideal ‘City of the Future’. The experiment will determine what is needed for the French citizen of the future. Under constant televised surveillance, two psycho-sociologists subject the couple to various behavioural and emotional tests that are broadcast to the television viewing audience. As the audience loses interest, the experiment descends into farce and anarchy.

James Armstrong
Lecturer in Visual Culture, NCAD