Thursday, May 07, 2015
THE BED-SITTING ROOM (1969) - Richard Lester
The apocalypse as ripe source of surrealist sight gags? Richard Lester's The Bed-Sitting Room has mostly got you covered. After a two-minute nuclear war leaves England a wasteland, lots of British folk tool around the desert behaving as if nothing that bad has happened. BBC announcers continue to broadcast through the shells of burnt-out TV screens. Government bureaucrats sally about attempting to impose order and collect tariffs. Metro riders board an Underground to nowhere, above ground. An old military captain (Ralph Richardson) frets he will mutate from a man into a "bed-sitting room" and, later, does just that.
A true product of the swinging '60s (Lester directed the two most famous Beatles films), The Bed-Sitting Room has some great anarchic moments and some lovely absurdist frames. I would say it plays like a middling Monty Python sketch if that famous comedy troupe hadn't only gotten their start that same year. If anything, Lester, Spike Milligan, Dudley Moore and Co. probably influenced them.