The Long Sleepers (Preface)
16mm/HD, color and b/w, sound, 27:40, 2018 USA/Germany
“In the village the women and children stood in their doorways and stared at him as he passed. All were strangers to him. He noticed that some of them stroked their chins and laughed; and without thinking much about it, he put his hand to his own chin. What was his surprise to find that he had a beard more than a foot long!”
--from Peter Klaus the Goatherd, German folktale, collected by Johan Nachtigal and published in 1800.
Since 2014 I have made four experimental films about “long sleeper narratives.” Long Sleepers are people who are outsiders in their society, who fall asleep in a cavern or mountainside and wake up 20, 50, or 100 years later.
With this experimental essay film, I explore the plagiarized origin of the Rip van Winkle story and its transposition into early American legend.
This ongoing series of films gathers stories of figures like Washington Irving’s famous American character Rip van Winkle; those who fall asleep underground and wake up 20, 50, or hundreds of years later. When awake, these individuals can take on a range of roles in society. In narratives they usually function as prophets, fools, or refuseniks. These films have been exhibited widely in the gallery, museum, and theatrical context.
This film is a preface to a series of films that investigate 21st century "long sleepers," people who live in bunkers, missile silos, and other underground spaces in the United States in the year 2018.