Friday, 16 May 2014

The Insomniac.

Included as part of the BFI Flipside Sleepwalker (1985) release, this rare 45 minute feature film written, produced and directed by documentary short maker Rodney Giesler is part nightmare part sexual fantasy were a man inhabits an alternative countryside world when he is asleep. Giesler’s work consists of eight documentary shorts the last one was made in 1980. The Insomniac (1971) is the only feature film he has produced, and as a double bill with Saxon Logan’s feature film works extremely well, in fact both films compliment each other.
Morris Perry is the Man.
The Insomniac follows the erotic dream of a nameless family man that takes place in an idyllic countryside location. Three children play in a large picturesque garden. The scene changes to a cityscape where the man sits in his motor vehicle in the midst of a traffic queue, when the lights change he is asleep and is awoken by blasts from the car horns of those behind him. He travels home to a block of flats. Here we find his wife and his three children, who we previously saw in the ‘picturesque garden’, they are playing outside the flats in a hard landscaped play area! The children are read a bedtime story about the power of imagination and dreams. The man and his wife settle to “blankly” watch television and then go to bed. In bed the man tries unsuccessfully to grope his wife’s breasts but does not get the desired result, we are given the impression that this is not a very loving relationship. Its now midnight and the man is still not asleep he smokes a cigarette and we see through his half drawn curtains that there is bright sunlight outside. Getting out of bed he looks out of the window of his flat and we see below the fantasy garden that his children were playing in. He gets dressed and goes outside in what appears to be a totally different world. Driving his car through peaceful country lanes he is flagged down by a man in evening dress who’s wearing sunglasses and asked if he could give him a lift to a party. When they arrive at a large posh house ‘sunglasses’ invites the man inside where he finds a jovial crowd all dressed in their refinery. Made welcome and given a drink he observes a very attractive blond woman in a long clinging white dress sitting on a sofa talking to another evening suited man. The woman gives our man the “come on” and both go out in the garden but not before the woman has put on her sunglasses.  She is finally persuaded to take off the glasses and following a fracas with her husband, get’s into the man’s car and they drive off with the husband and the other men from the party in close pursuit. The man’s car runs out of petrol and the pair take of through the countryside and loose there pursuers.  Running hand in hand like a pair of young lovers they end up by a lake where they take off their clothes, go for a swim and end up making love naked on the bank watched only by a swan. Suddenly the man awakes in an industrial area near his home, he is lying beside a canal still naked with his clothes near by, and we hear a train rumble by. The evening suited men turn up in a car and kick his clothes in the water laughing out loud. The woman is in the back seat of car looking downcast but seemingly not recognising the man.  Its morning and suddenly we are back inside the flat. The wife is getting the three children ready for school and giving them their breakfast. She reacts to a knock at the door to find two policemen with the man dressed only in an old raincoat. The children are told to go out to play – they are in the ‘picturesque garden’ again!
Valerie van Ost is the Woman. 
Made by Auriga Films Ltd based at Leatherhead in Surrey England, the film stars Morris Perry is the man, whose busy acting career has been mainly spent working in television including a stint as Captain Dent in Doctor Who. The blond woman is played by
Valerie van Ost; another actor who has spent most of her career working in Television but also appeared in some early Carry On films. 

A very different world!

The man and his children both occupy two very different worlds. The children are influenced by the stories they are read, where as the man is influenced by his primal desires and his need to break away from his institutionalised life style.  Rodney Giesler has managed to bring together the man’s rather dull existence and the more colourful and exciting world of his dreams. An impressive debut from a man I must admit I was not familiar with and can’t help wonder why he never made any more feature films?

[1] Michael Brooke Sight and Sound October 2013

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