Films of the Seventies: The Bed Sitting Room (1969)

For our screening series this quarter, Erik and I are moving on from the run-down sadism that is British horror film to - god forbid - films that are not necessarily horror films.  (Many, however, will be.) Instead, we're doing the global 70s, ranging from Italy to Senegal, Mexico to Yugoslavia, West Germany to Japan. We're starting at the end of the British 60s, with a film that those who read this blog likely know by now, one of my all-time favorites, that really does not get old. 

“Oh, we’ll just have to keep going?”
“What for?”

“Because we’re British.”

“British! What a lot of use that is.”

As an apocryphal critic pithily put it at the time of its release, Richard Lester’s post-apocalyptic film, The Bed Sitting Room, really is “like Samuel Beckett, but with better jokes.”  Carrying on and muddling through after the unfortunate “nuclear misunderstanding that led to the Third World War,” the twenty or so survivors in Great Britain live a salvage-filled existence as they heed well the (constantly repeated) imperative to keep moving and obliviously confront the possibility that they will suddenly mutate into animals, bed sitting rooms, and God knows what else.  Nominally based on the Spike Milligan and John Antrobus play from 1963, Lester's cinematic version is a staggering vision of waste and remnant, of frozen, necrotic social relations, and of what we keep doing to keep ourselves busy after the end of the world.  It is very dark, it is very uncomfortable, it is very funny, and it is very, very British.  As the characters all croakingly sing apropos the closest living blood relative to the now long deceased queen, "God Save Mrs. Etheyl Shroake, Long Live Mrs. Etheyl Shroake"  Not to be missed.

Tuesday, January 25th
Stevenson 150, 8 PM

For the remainder of the quarter, we will be showing 1970s films from different countries each week.  Same time, same place.  All are welcome.  Tell your family, tell your friends.

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