(Qualcuno in ascolto, Faliero Rosati, Italy, 1988)


The Italian thriller High-Frequency – the original title of which loosely translates as Someone is Listening – is a good example of the routine but highly inventive genre films from other countries that we rarely see in English-language video versions.

Like Roberto Benigni’s The Little Devil (1988), it is angled toward the international market with a smorgasbord of actors and impressive technical credits.

Vincent Spano plays Peter, lonely guardian of a high-tech surveillance station. Like the hero of the Australian film Plains of Heaven (1982), which may have inspired director Faliero Rosati, Peter distracts himself aimlessly in the snowy landscape, and goes a little crazy fiddling with his video and computer machines.

Besides making friends over the radio wire with a smart young boy (Oliver Benny), Peter starts receiving strange images on his monitors – and eventually sees a murder take place.

High-Frequency is most effective in its exploitation of video within film – video as a ghostly, creepy interruption to normal reality, delivering uncanny messages of death. As the story moves to its intricate and rather confusing climax involving space satellites and international espionage, echoes of famous films including Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) and especially De Palma’s Blow Out (1981) proliferate.

This is an intriguing movie worth catching.

© Adrian Martin March 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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