If there’s one thing upon which people agree about Gideon Koppel’s documentary sleep furiously, it’s that looks beautiful. In the film magazine Sight and Sound, Mann Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville hailed the film as a “gorgeous, moving and deeply poetic work of art.” Critic Jonathan Romney writes in the Independent: “Koppel’s own camerawork shows that he’s a painter as much as a film-maker.” And filmmaker Alex Cox adds: “The film is visually remarkable… what could be bleak in another film is infinitely beautiful here… and what might otherwise seem hopeless is redeemed and made marvellous.”
Below are several of my favorite images from the film, each of which manage to do several things at once. On one level, they capture the facts of everyday life in Koppel’s family village of Trefeurig in Wales. The quiet rhythms and rituals of modest farm living pervade each shot. But there’s also a remarkable precision and eye for fascinating patterns and geometries that Koppel’s camera consistently discovers. The shots in sleep furiously manage to do two things at once: depict the details of a way of life with impassive objectivity, while evoking a particular way of seeing that conveys a very personal empathy with what it captures. In this way Koppel’s film is true to its subject both in surface and spirit.
WATCH SLEEP FURIOUSLY ON FANDOR JULY 29TH.