Sleeper Blu-ray Review
If your knowledge of Woody Allen films begins with ANNIE HALL you probably only know him as a commentator….straight delivery with little effort. However, four years prior to that Oscar winner he showed himself a fine master of slapstick with the futuristic film SLEEPER.
The year is 2173. Miles Monroe (Allen), a young man who in 1973 had gone into surgery for a simple procedure finds himself awoken in the future. And he’s not happy. “Great, I owe 2000 months back rent!” Miles finds that the earth is now a utopia overseen by one they call “the Leader.” The scientists who revive him try to keep him secret and, at the same time, learn from Miles. They give him a test of 1970s-era history and, after cooperating somewhat, he begins to give them nonsensical answers, like Bela Lugosi was once the Mayor of New York and that watching Howard Cosell was a form of punishment. He also gets a great line in about Richard Nixon, then adds that when he would leave a room the secret service would count the silverware.
When the scientists are arrested for hiding Miles he tries to assimilate in the new society as an automated servant for the beautiful Luna (Keaton). However, she is dissatisfied with him and has his brain reprogrammed. Unfortunately, now that Miles is “cured” Luna finds herself a fugitive and is taken in by the underground movement led by the charismatic Urno (John Beck). Eventually Miles and Luna reunite and together try to help defeat the Leader. This was Keaton’s first film under Allen’s direction and it’s obvious that he saw great things in her considering their later body of work. It’s also clear to see the natural chemistry the two share when Miles and Luna begin to fall in love, a chemistry that followed the two off screen. Like Mia Farrow in the mid 80s and early 90s, Keaton grew to be Allen’s muse and some of her finest performances, including her Oscar winning turn in ANNIE HALL, came in his films.
Written by Allen and his long time partner Marshall Brickman, SLEEPER is a fun look at how the future might one day be. It’s funny that Allen’s vision is similar to that of other, later films, like LOGANS RUN, where odd shaped houses, hovering cars and machines meant to help us are the norm. Of course in Allen’s future, there also is a machine called an Orgasmotron. No time for sex? Just open the door, step inside and a few seconds later you step out smiling. But while the future is impressive, it’s the smaller things that make the film fun. While scrounging for food for him and Luna he comes across a farm where giant sized fruits are grown. In attempting to steal a giant banana Allen invents possibly the funniest “man slips on a banana peel” gag in film history. Nothing is off limits here…no joke or set up too small to resist. While they don’t all hit right on the money, the ones that do make SLEEPER a comedy to enjoy.
Video: For a film that’s now 40 years old, the presentation print is in very good shape. The futuristic (read: very bright) lighting is well tempered and doesn’t glare on screen. The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
Audio: The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio Mono and is clear. Various sound effects, etc. do not overwhelm.
The only extra provided is the original theatrical trailer.