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Sleep Furiously (2008)

 |  Documentary  |  29 May 2009 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 284 users   Metascore: 64/100
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A poetic and profound journey into a world of endings and beginnings; a world of stuffed owls, sheep and fire.


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Set in a small farming community in mid Wales, a place where Koppel's parents - both refugees - found a home. This is a landscape and population that is changing rapidly as small scale agriculture is disappearing and the generation who inhabited a pre-mechanised world is dying out. Much influenced by his conversations with the writer Peter Handke, the film maker leads us on a poetic and profound journey into a world of endings and beginnings; a world of stuffed owls, sheep and fire. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

29 May 2009 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Vom langsamen Leben in Wales  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


£300,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Kesson Dalef
Written by 'Richard D James'
Performed by 'Aphex Twin'
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User Reviews

The Welsh "Etre et Revoir"?
25 January 2013 | by (Salisbury, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Well, not really, but when we see the primary school class scenes, near the start, that is what immediately struck me and I'm sure anyone who's also seen and enjoyed the phenomenally popular and successful charting of a year of a French primary school and their teacher will know what I'm saying. Those who haven't - and enjoyed this, should check it out - directed by Nicolas Philibert, released 2002 and is sometimes known by its less elegant English translation 'To Be and To Have'.

Now that I've established that Sleep Furiously isn't just about the primary school (but its importance resonates throughout) I agree with nearly all the comments from reviewers, from the positive to the critical. I can see why the young Welsh couple found it clunky and boring and casting a backwards look on their country-folk yet I can see it for what it is. I too, find it distasteful and mocking for comfortable people to see 'twee folk doing what comes naturally and jolly good luck to them' - as they open another bottle of wine.

The reasons why I was attracted to buying, almost blind, except for reviews here and the advert, is because I'm an Englishman who lived and worked in Wales for a good portion of my adult life and for a time, dealt with agricultural policy. Very low down the ladder, I must add. I was also brought up on a farm myself. But mainly, because I'm very familiar with south Wales and re-visit regularly and with images of north Wales so prevalent in the touristy media (and now having taken up my hobby as photographer as part-time job) it's the oft forgotten 'middle-bit' of Wales that I've seen almost nothing of.

Yet, of course, it is the main farming area and mention is made of the Royal Welsh Show (which I have been to) which is held near Builth Wells, in Mid Wales - not north or south, where more people could visit and make it more commercial but where the heart of the real country is.

Yet, for all the predictability there is around people baking cakes and choosing books at the mobile library (I recall those in my childhood - and I'm mid 40's, so not THAT old!) it is the anticipation of what it is that comes next. Yes, you could fall asleep and no-one would really blame you but it also will bring down your blood pressure and I've always found Welsh used as everyday language, actually rather lovely, if that doesn't sound too patronising and how, with no obvious reason, English will be used instead, despite it being the same speakers and subject!

It obviously hasn't found an audience as wide or large as To Be and to Have (which has been shown on BBC4) and it'd be futile to try and work out why and why not. For a moment I wondered if this was a vanity project by the director but I'm sure you'll see why I soon dropped this idea!

I enjoyed the few time-lapsed sections probably the most - the curtains gently billowing in the breeze was sublime and the people with the fireworks, complete with a burst of the atmospheric electronic music, wonderful.

Whilst not the bravest, nor the most cutting edge of even engaging documentary ever made, it is certainly good and I'm now looking forward to watching it with my 80 year old father and his sister over Christmas. He has always enjoyed nature programmes - and One Man and His Dog - plus attractive country scenery and the pace will suit them both to a tee. And as an old pig farmer, the sights and sounds of the piglets being born will be special, too, I'm sure.

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