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The Insomniac (1971)

| 1971 (UK)
An insomniac man who lives in a sterile urban environment has a strange waking dream one night in which he experiences a surreal adventure incorporating wild nature and sexual freedom.



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Cast overview:
Morris Perry ...
The Man
The Girl (as Valerie Ost)
The Wife
Simon Merrick ...
The Passenger
Neville Marten ...
The Host
Sara Nicholls ...
The Child (as Sarah Nicholls)
Darren Burn ...
The Child
Reggie Winch ...
The Child


An insomniac man who lives in a sterile urban environment has a strange waking dream one night in which he experiences a surreal adventure incorporating wild nature and sexual freedom.

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Release Date:

1971 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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This was released as an extra feature on the BFI's Blu-ray/DVD Combo of Sleepwalker (1984). See more »

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User Reviews

Off-kilter and dream-like oddity
15 December 2016 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

This genuine oddity is the brain-child of Rodney Giesler who served as writer, producer and director here. He had been making films since the 1950's but up to this point in his career he had only produced non-fiction works, mainly industrial information films. After the release of this one, he failed to get funding for his subsequent feature film idea and he returned to making documentary films. On the basis of The Insomniac this is a somewhat unfortunate turn of events, as this is one interesting and bold bit of work to say the least.

It's really a surrealist film more than anything. It put me to mind of the films of Nicolas Roeg in terms of some of its bold editing and imagery. But even though it is a pretty experimental bit of work, it's not inaccessible at all. Its story has an insomniac man go on a strange odyssey one night. In a sort of waking dream, he suddenly becomes aware that despite it being the dead of night, it is a bright sunny day outside and the surrounding area has turned from the urban jungle where he lives into a land of forests and fields like the one in the story he read to his children before he put them off to bed. He sets off in this land and winds up at a house full of strange people who wear mirrored sunglasses. He escapes with one of the female guests and ends up making love to her in a river. But soon his euphoria is to come crashing down.

This wilfully strange film has a very dream-like ambiance and interestingly off-kilter atmosphere which is maintained throughout. It's pretty ambiguous and enigmatic and really works best as a mood piece. So, don't expect a straightforward journey here but it is really controlled very effectively by Giesler, especially so when you consider that it is his first and only narrative film and its one that doesn't exactly owe anything too obvious to information films. In fact, it is the exact opposite of an information film, totally embracing its lack of narrative certainty and answers. I for one was drawn into its mysterious world and found it to be a very compelling and highly unusual bit of cinema. Definitely a film that deserves to be seen by a wider audience as this is the work of a director with a considerably unique perspective.

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