(aka "The Man Who Sleeps" )


directed by Georges Perec, Bernard Queysanne
France 1974


A hypnotic solo by its mute hero, a young man who decides to withdraw from the world and whose mental journal of his experience is confided to us by a girl's voice off-screen, "Un homme qui dort" is an astonishing tour de force. What distinguishes it from all those ventures in spiritual navel-gazing is that his decision to not-be is purely practical, and the parabola he traces from boredom to terror - as he gradually detaches himself to float free within an indefinable menace - is brilliantly conveyed by the other leading character in the film: the city of Paris. The influence of Franju is unmistakable, and wholly beneficial.

From the Time Out review located here

Theatrical Release: 24 April 1974

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DVD Review: La Vie est Belle Films - Region 2 - PAL

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La Vie est Belle Films

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:17:45 (4% PAL speedup)

1.33 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio French, English, German, Spanish
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: La Vie est Belle Films

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33

Edition Details:
• Extra on Disc 1: Theatrical trailer (1:45)
• Extras on Disc 2: Two 1999 French TV documentaries by Bernard Queysanne:
• Propos amicaux ŗ propos d'espŤces d'espaces (1:11:20) - Perec remembered by his friends and colleagues
• Lire-traduire Georges Perec (33:14) - on the challenges of translating Perec's works
• 52-page booklet about the film, including the full text of the voiceover (French language only)

DVD Release Date: Dec 4th, 2007

Chapters 8



In 1999, the Franco-German TV channel Arte devoted a night of programming to the writer Georges Perec, who died in 1982. The centrepiece of that evening was a new restoration of the cult film Un homme qui dort, a study in alienation, adapted by Perec and his friend Bernard Queysanne from Perec's book. The restored version is now presented in this 2-DVD set, along with two documentaries on Perec, made by Queysanne for Arte.

I should say first of all that this French edition is only partially English-friendly. While the film has no dialogue at all (the central character never utters a word) a female voice on the soundtrack addresses us throughout, reading excerpts from Perec's novel. The silky French voice is that of actress Ludmila MikaŽl. Three other soundtracks are offered: English (Shelley Duvall), German (Andrea Kopsch) and Spanish (uncredited). There are no subtitles on the film or on any of the extras, so if you don't understand French your only option is to switch to one of the other tracks. Though I have no strong preference between MikaŽl and Duvall's readings, the English track does unfortunately have a significant hiss that is not present on the other three.

The black-and-white image quality of this DVD transfer is excellent, with slight film grain and attractive contrast levels throughout (except at those moments when the contrast is deliberately over-boosted to reflect the character's mental state). A close inspection reveals a small amount of compression artifacting, though not enough to become a distraction.

The two documentaries on the bonus disc are about Perec rather than the film. The longer is a profile of the writer through interviews with his friends and colleagues; the other is about the problems of translating his books. These are interesting inclusions, particularly for the archive clips of Perec in TV interviews; but, as already mentioned, these are in French with no subtitles. A 52-page booklet (also in French) includes the full text of the film voiceover, along with production stills and contributions from Queysanne, Perec and Georges Franju.

Overall, a welcome and carefully assembled presentation of an extraordinary film, a work that I found highly reminiscent of Resnais, both stylistically (the slow tracking shots through the streets of Paris evoke Marienbad) and in its themes (Perec, like Resnais, is fascinated by time). The only significant and regrettable omission from this package is the absence of subtitles.

 - Michael St Aubyn


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CLICK to order from:


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Region 2 - PAL


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