Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Bedsitting Room

Ever heard of it? It was a movie I saw on YouTube on the weekend.

Unbelievably, this post about a movie produced in 1969 does link to Madness. On the old Madness website, with each song lyrics page, there was a link to a page that talked about what it was all about. Rather, a band member, likely the one who wrote the song, would have written a paragraph on what the song was about and how he or they got the idea for it.

The "What's it all about" paragraph on the song "Keep Moving" (the opening song on their album of the same name) was written by Suggs and said this:

"Carl and I, at my house in Camden mews, were trying to evoke the atmosphere of a film with a post-holocaust setting in which Spike Milligan is hanging out of a hot air balloon berating raggedy people stumbling round in a post nuclear wasteland through a loud hailer with the words "keep moving, keep moving". I identified with that - the ridiculousness of where we were going. There's also a bit in which a family live on a tube train going round on the circle line. The Dad, who is Roy Kinnear, jumps off at various stops to rob chocolate machines to feed them, but sometimes misses the doors and has to wait for the train to come back round. Did you see it? Hmmm... well, anyway, that wasn't what we ended up evoking!"


(The father wasn't played by Roy Kinnear, he was played by Arther Lowe. Roy Kinnear played "Plastic Mac Man").

Much later on, someone made the connection and identified the movie as The Bed-Sitting Room. This past weekend, after watching it in 9 parts on YouTube, I decided it was one of the weirdest, absurd movies I'd ever seen.
 
Certainly funny.
 
What I like is that the humor and writing sounds exactly like my type of writing. Those short stories I wrote in high school, those "Crazy Non-sensical Sentences" I called them, use the same kind of style of writing.
 
Here's the synopsis according to Wikipedia:
 
The film is set on the third or fourth anniversary of a war which lasted two minutes and twenty-eight seconds, including signing the peace treaty. Three years after the nuclear holocaust, several survivors wander amidst the debris of London. Penelope is 17 months pregnant and lives with her lover, Alan, and her parents in the remains of the London Underground.


Other survivors include Capt. Bules Martin, who holds a "Defeat of England" medal, as he was unable to save Buckingham Palace from disintegration during the war. Lord Fortnum (Richardson) is fearful that he will mutate into the "bed sitting room" of the title. Mate is a fireguard, except that there is nothing left to burn. Shelter Man serves as a regional "head of government" over a decimated population. Similarly, the "National Health Service" is the name of a male nurse, although overwhelmed by the extent of the past war. Finally, there are two policemen who hover overhead in a balloon and shout "keep moving" to offset the 'danger' of becoming a 'target' in the (unlikely) event of another outbreak of hostilities.


Lord Fortnum travels to 29 Cul de Sac Place and does become a bed sitting room. Penelope's mother is provided with a death certificate, after which she turns into a cupboard. Penelope is forced to marry Martin because of his "bright future", despite her love for Alan. Her father is initially selected to become Prime Minister due to his prodigious leg length, but unfortunately, he mutates into a parrot and is cooked and eaten due to the starvation conditions that prevail.


Penelope finally gives birth, but her monstrous mutant progeny dies. It emerges that Martin is impotent, so he yields marriage consummation to Alan. Penelope has a second child, who is normal, and there is an indication of hope for the future amidst the devastation. She, Alan and her child walk off together. A band pays homage to Mrs. Ethel Shroake of 393A High Street, Leytonstone, the late Queen's former charwoman, and thus closest in succession to the throne.

At the beginning, the cast is list in the credits in order of height.

The ridiculousness is also prevailent in the setting, where some scenes have the actors walking on the ground covered in china. The power is fueled by a guy tirelessly pedalling an exercise bike, which is connected to the system.

I won't embed it here, but I will suggest watching the film. The first part unfortunately has sound equalizing problems (it comes out of one speaker) but the rest sound alright. I'd recommend watching and listening using the speakers instead of the headphones.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9

Weird and crazy indeed.

Justin C.

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