“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.
– 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.