Quite a few TV shows and movies have proven that chumps run a great risk of becoming unwittingly cryogenically frozen and waking up in the future. Frankly, getting accidentally cryopreserved is something I watch out for on a regular basis. However, waking up in the future does have a knee-slapping appeal as seen in Woody Allen’s 1973 film, ‘Sleeper.’ The tagline for the movie is “Woody Allen takes a nostalgic look at the future,” which is exactly what we’re going to do in today’s Throwback Thursday – a look at science fiction of the past.
Allen plays Miles Monroe, a musician and health food storeowner who gets cryogenically frozen when going to a hospital for routine treatment of an ulcer. He wakes up in the 22nd century to discover that the US is now a police state. Rebels decide to enlist Miles to spy on the government’s secret plan known as the Aries Project. However, these rebels get caught and Miles escapes. He’s now forced to learn about this new world all on his own as he gets caught in hilarious jams inspired by ‘Modern Times’, ‘Safety Last’ and ‘Duck Soup’. (Be sure to listen for the voice of HAL 9000, Douglas Rain, voicing yet another evil computer.)
Along with the slapstick element, ‘Sleeper’ does provide a commentary on contemporary culture, particularly during a scene where Miles offers the rebels information on historic figures. Additionally, one of my favorite elements of the movie is when we’re first introduced to Diane Keaton’s character, Luna – a socialite and aspiring poet. This scene shows that no matter how horrid a dystopia can be, pretentious people will never cease to exist.
‘Sleeper’ serves as both a satire of dystopian science fiction and a tribute to Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx, etc. Despite a world governed by a dictatorship where the human experience is entirely mechanized, comedy still triumphs.