American author Henry Miller (1891 – 1980), was a breakthrough writer, forming his own unique literary voice, filled with honesty, surrealism, and detail-obsessed observation.
His most famous works, Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn and The Rosy Crucifixion (Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus) trilogy were all banned in the United States, for their frank and open presentation of sexuality, until 1961.
Henry Miller Asleep and Awake
One of Miller’s techniques was to look at a physical object, say a puddle on the street, and use it to lose himself in revery, launching into nostalgia, free associating and allowing his memory to go where it wanted.
It’s fitting, then, that this short, strange little documentary, Henry Miller Asleep and Awake, filmed in 1975, takes form as an interview conducting almost entirely in Miller’s bathroom, where he uses the items there to recall his fascinating life.
The film, which runs at just under 35 minutes, was directed by Tom Schiller. Schiller launched his career making shorts for Saturday Night Live,and would go on to write and direct the 1984 sci-fi comedy film Nothing Lasts Forever, starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, which has yet to see a DVD release due to legal tie-ups.
On his walls, we see everything from images of the Buddha, to nude pin-ups, to a photograph of his – fifth – wife, Hiroko “Hoki” Tokuda. Each item obviously means a great deal to the writer, and it gives an intimate portrayal of a man who lived openly.
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