Henry Miller – Asleep & Awake (1975)


I’m excited by film. It’s one of the freest, most effective means of expression. Especially in the realm of dream and fantasy!
What wonders, what joys it may hold in store for us!
Some day film may replace literature.

– Henry Miller

One of my favorite writers is Henry Miller, who I happen to share a birthday with (Dec. 26th). I recently came across a short documentary about the man called Henry Miller – Asleep & Awake (1975, Tom Schiller), which was made when Miller was 84 years old. Some kind soul uploaded the entire 35 minute film to YouTube in four separate parts and I really can’t recommend it enough if you’re a fan of Miller’s work or just curious about him.

Besides his incredible accomplishments as an author who has managed to influence everyone from Jack Kerouac to Henry Rollins, Miller was also a member of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival Jury in 1960. He was the only Jury Member that year who voted for the erotic Japanese film Kagi (aka The Key, 1959, Kon Ichikawa) to win the coveted Jury Prize over Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’ Avventura, and in turn Antonioni and Ichikawa were forced to share the prize due to a tie vote. Henry Miller also wanted Kagi to win the prestigious Palme d’Or (Golden Palm), but the film didn’t make the final round of voting so he ended up casting his final vote for Fellini’s magnificent La Dolce Vita which helped garner that film the prestigious Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) that year.

Besides Miller’s obvious enthusiasm for Kagi, he also liked La Dolce Vita a lot and had this to say about the film to his friend, the photographer Brassai: “Fellini’s film also lasts three hours, but it doesn’t seem long. It moves faster than the others, is teeming with characters and events. You hardly ever get bored with it. What is marvelous in this film is the satirical depiction of the tabloid press. The obsessive presence of the pack of paparazzi in every circumstance.” (Henry Miller on La Dolce Vita)

In this wonderful documentary which takes place almost entirely in Henry Miller’s bathroom, Miller discusses Kon Ichikawa’s film Kagi in great detail which was based on a book by Junichirô Tanizaki, along with many other interesting topics.

Part I.

Part II.

Part III.

Part IV.

Recommended Links:
Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company: A Henry Miller Blog is a great blog devoted to Miller that also features some intersting pieces about Miller’s experiences as a member of the Cannes Film Festival Jury.
Henry Miller: Personal Collection is a wonderful tribute site put together by Miller’s daughter Valentine.
The Henry Miller Library is devoted to keeping Miller’s work alive and from personal experience, I can tell you that this beautiful place is well worth a visit if you’re ever in Northern California.

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6 thoughts on “Henry Miller – Asleep & Awake (1975)

  1. Will E. says:

    Oh my God! I can’t wait to watch all of these. Henry’s house looks pretty much as I’ve imagined over the years. I think the only reason I watched Warren Beatty’s Reds was because I found out Henry was interviewed in it (of course the movie was incredible on its own). Got to love some Henry Miller, ya just got to!

  2. Jonathan Lapper says:

    Well I’m at work so I can’t watch these now with the volume up so the extent of newfound knowledge on Miller I can gather at the moment is that he preferred his toilet paper to be dispensed over the top which according to a poll conducted by Scott’s tissue is the preference of 80% of people (I preferred my against the wall – I’m a rebel). Watching it silently I kept hearing Fred Ward say “Anais!” in my mind. I must say watching these with no volume is a strange experience, there’s all the pictures on the wall, Henry seems to laugh a lot, and there’s a naked lady running around, and now he’s outside with his cane. At this point I am beyond intrigued to find out what in the hell is actually being said. This will be the first thing I watch when I get home. Thank’s for the post – I shall be in suspense now until I can finally listen to these.

  3. Jonathan Lapper says:

    I just have to quickly comment on how popular a blogger you are Kimberly: So far you have three comments from three guys who haven’t even watched the videos yet but we all felt obliged to comment. Amazing.

  4. Justine says:

    Strange you post this, I actually started reading Tropic of Cancer earlier this week during my break, my first venture into Miller’s work. Too bad fines limit me from actually borrowing the book at the moment, because so far I love his prose, and his brash, almost confrontational use of language. I’ll definetely be checking out this doc, thanks for letting us know it’s on youtube.

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