Where Forgotten Films Dwell

Welcome to this site! It exists for one reason: to preserve the memory of films that have been forgotten about or under-appreciated throughout the ages. Take a seat, read an entry, leave a comment. You might discover your new favorite movie!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

To Sleep with Anger

Directed by Charles Burnett
1990
The United States of America


In the backyard of his comfortable home nestled in the bosom of South Central Los Angeles, Gideon throws a handful of feed into the chicken coop. Though nowadays he can most certainly afford to buy his chickens from the market, his Deep South beginnings betray him. The sun is bright and the brown ground scuffs his bare feet. In the living room, his wife Suzie leads a group of pregnant women in breathing exercises. The only sounds to be heard are her gentle voice, the exhalation of air, and the scurrying of her grandson Sunny upstairs. Next door a young boy noisily blows on a trumpet in the attic. The squawks and honks elicit the laughter and jeers of neighborhood children. For Gideon and his family, such is just another afternoon in the black middle class.


But all is not well. Sunny’s father, “Babe Brother,” the youngest of Suzie’s two sons, is unreliable and neglectful: he spoils his child, forgets about his mother’s birthday, and weasels his way out of helping Gideon fix his roof. And so, Gideon is angry with his son’s laziness and dishonesty. Junior, Suzie’s eldest, resents the “special treatment” he is convinced his parents gave Babe. And Babe is frustrated by his family’s suffocating demands. Though far from dysfunctional, the threads keeping this extended family together have begun to fray. Anger and resentment have started to creep into the recesses of their everyday lives. And elsewhere strange omens abound: Gideon’s dreams are filled with images of burning fruit and flaming feet, objects in the kitchen knock themselves over onto the floor, and their toby, a kind of protective charm passed down through the generations, goes missing.


And then comes a knock at the door.


In his pocket, a ratty address book. In his hand, a hat. On his lips, a smile brimming with honeyed affection. His name in Harry, and it’s been thirty years since last they’ve met. And though Gideon and Suzie are eager to welcome their old friend into their home, they have no way of knowing the evil that has crossed their doorway. And so the trap is sprung in Charles Burnett’s piercing meditation on African-American folklore simply titled To Sleep with Anger.


The title comes from an old saying: “Never go to bed angry.” Perhaps originating from Ephesians 4:26, the saying explains that couples should never go to sleep if they have unresolved issues or differences. To do so would only allow that anger and frustration to fester and take deeper root. Indeed, as the title would suggest, To Sleep with Anger watches as Gideon and Suzie’s family is corrupted from within by their enigmatic guest.


At first Harry is warmly amiable and friendly, though perhaps a bit rustic and superstitious. When somebody accidentally touches his feet with a broom, his goes pale and immediately throws salt over his shoulders. During a card game with Babe Brother he pulls out a knife to pick his thumbnail. He delights in showing Sunny the rabbit’s foot tied to it, explaining that it is meant to replace his toby which he “lost years ago.” He even helps Junior with his work around the house.


But ever so slowly, a more sinister side of Harry begins to seep out. He harasses and humiliates an old “blues singer” girlfriend who has converted to Christianity. His suggestion of holding a fish fry leads to the introduction of an assortment of drinkers, gamblers, and degenerates who seem to materialize onto their front porch. Eventually his poisonous words convince Babe Brother to abandon his family. Finally, the tensions borne of Harry’s presence leads to arguments, fighting...and murder.


Much of To Sleep with Anger originates from the personal experiences of director Charles Burnett. Though born in Mississippi, he was raised in Los Angeles where he managed to attend UCLA’s graduate film program. Burnett, alongside other UCLA students from the 60s to the 80s, such as Julie Dash and Haile Gerima, would help start the L.A. Rebellion, a movement of African-American filmmakers who would create a distinctly Black Cinema. Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (1977), his Master of Fine Arts thesis, was a penetrating glance into the African-American culture present in Los Angeles’ Watts district. To this day it is viewed as one of the masterpieces of Black American cinema.

But if Killer of Sheep took a Neorealist view of urban culture, To Sleep with Anger is positioned firmly within the Gothic. The film isn’t an observation, but an indictment of a community trapped between the contemporary and the traditional. Indeed, Harry has been described by Burnett as a character archetype from rural African-American lore: “He’s a [trickster] that comes to steal your soul, and you have to out-trick him. You can bargain with him. But you have to be more clever than he is.” If Gideon and Suzie’s family personifies those black families who sought to transition into the American middle class, then Harry is their Southern roots come knocking with temptations of superstitions, blues, and corn liquor. Harry is the embodiment of the ambivalence felt by many African-Americans (including Burnett himself) towards a past that provided a rich cultural milieu at the expense of slavery, servitude, and oppression.


These struggles are repeatedly pronounced via juxtapositions within Gideon and Suzie’s household. Watch how Burnett’s direction alternates between the realistic and the fantastical. Listen to the soundtrack’s struggle between pious church music and seductive blues guitar. Observe how simple superstitions like folk remedies and the observance of omens betray outward attempts at modernization. To Sleep with Anger is a thick, multi-textured film that begs for multiple viewings. To see it only once is to merely glean over the surface of one of the richest experiences in American Black cinema.


6 comments:

  1. Bạn là phụ nữ ? Bạn muốn làm đẹp, bạn muốn có một làn da trắng và mịn màng? Hãy cùng tôi theo dõi bài viết Mẹo làm trắng da hiệu quả từ chuyên giá nhé !!
    Bạn là đàn ông ? Bạn bị một số vấn đề trục trặc trong quan hệ tinh dục ? Hãy cùng tôi tìm hiểu và khắc phục thông qua bài viết này nhé Những lưu ý và cách điều trị xuất tinh sớm
    Chúc bạn thành công

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cách trị thâm mắt với 2 loại lá. Quầng thâm mắt khiến khuôn mặt bạn trông thiếu sức sống và mất đi nét quyến rũ. Lúc này, chị em tham khảo 2 loại lá trị thâm mắt hiệu quả

    ReplyDelete
  3. nike roshe run australia Although I nike roshe run australia have never met you, but I have heard that you, lad really handsome ah. Director nike roshe run australia laughed and then took cheap sat on the nike roshe run sale sofa. I do not know what happened to me Zhaosuo Chang. nike roshe run australia cheap do not cheap nike roshe run shoes want polite with him.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Trên thị trường hiện nay, có rất nhiều loại máy phun sơn phục vụ cho các công trình dân dụng và công nghiệp, ngành tàu biển…. Sử dụng máy phun sơn có thể giúp giảm chi phí về nhân công cho các chủ đầu tư công trình, tăng tiến độ, do vậy máy phun sơn dstech 63.1 là sản phẩm không thể thiếu trong các công trình. Bộ máy phun sơn bao gồm máy phun sơn dstech 63.1 , dây phun sơn gồm 2 loại dây phun sơn ¼ dây phun sơn 3/8 , bộ súng phun sơn . Sự khó khăn của các nhà đầu tư sẽ được tư vấn qua Hotline 0903 924 645. Để có thêm thông tin vui lòng truy cập vào website: tienduc.vn
    Béc phun cát có vỏ bằng nhôm, lõi Venturi, bằng hợp kim Tungsten Carbide nên có tính chịu mài mòn và độ bền cao hơn các béc phun cát làm bằng chất liệu khác. Tùy vào vật cần làm sạch mà có những loại béc phù hợp: béc phun cát số 5, béc phun cát số 6 , béc phun cát số 7 …. Liên hệ 0903 924 645 để được tư vấn về thông tin và cách lựa chọn béc phun cát phù hợp. Hoặc truy cập nhanh vào tienduc.vn

    ReplyDelete
  5. Posts meanings too, thank you share post.

    Để có một chương trình hoàn hảo bạn đã thử tham khảo dịch vụ cho thuê nhà giàn không gian tại hà nội chưa?
    Để có một chương trình tổ chức sự kiện hoàn hảo không thể thiếu những tay nghề kỹ thuật cũng như trang thiết bị sự kiện hiện đại phù hợp với nhu cầu của khách hàng.
    Nhà giàn không gian là nơi hội tụ toàn bộ khách mời của một tổ chức, là nơi diễn ra hoạt động như khai trương, khánh thành...
    Vậy còn phân vân gì nữa, nhanh tay đăng ký và gọi ngay cho song huyền để được tư vấn.
    Ngoài ra Song Huyền còn rất nhiều dịch vụ khác như:
    Dịch vụ tổ chức sinh nhật tại hà nội, dịch vụ cho thuê nhóm múa thiếu nhi, cho thuê nhóm nhảy tại hà nội, cho thuê nhà bạt tại hà nội, cho thuê bàn ghế sự kiện hà nội, cho thuê ca sĩ, cho thuê nhà dù nhà bạt tại hà nội, dịch vụ cưới hỏi trọn gói song huyền, cho thuê khung backrop sự kiện hà nội, cho thuê xiếc khỉ đi xe đạp...

    ReplyDelete