An excerpt from the booklet essay by Graham Williamson

Jindřich Polák is best known for 1963's Ikarie XB-1, re-edited and released in America under the title Voyage to the End of the Universe. An acknowledged influence on Gene Roddenberry, Ikarie XB-1 is also often cited as a forerunner to 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968), and the plot - particularly the detail of the crew-member who goes mad - bears a close resemblance to Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007). Factor in the source material by Stanisław Lem, whose 1961 novel Solaris was famously adapted by both Andrei Tarkovsky (in 1972) and Steven Soderbergh (in 2002), and you have something like patient zero for that strain of science fiction cinema which is grand and contemplative rather than kinetic and spectacular.

The common criticism of this kind of film, one first aired in the early, bewildered reviews of 2001, is that it is humourless. Ikarie XB-1 actually has some smart jokes: a robot in the style of Robby from Forbidden Planet (Fred M Wilcox, 1956) is wheeled on and immediately dismissed as an antique. Even so, viewers could be forgiven for not realising that Polák's speciality was comedy. Indeed, he helped justify the costs of Ikarie XB-1's sets by re-using them for a film he shot back-to-back with it, Clown Ferdinand and the Rocket (Klaun Ferdinand a raketa, 1963), a vehicle for Jiří Vršt'ala's popular children's TV character.

Czech and Slovak science fiction cinema is, in general, unusually alert to the comic potential of the genre. Generally, when science fiction comedy surfaces in American media it's either a spoof in the manner of Galaxy Quest (Dean Parisot, 1999) or something like the animated sitcoms Futurama (1999-2013) and Rick and Morty (2013 onwards). Those aren't exactly parodies, but they assume their audience has seen enough straight-faced science fiction to understand the references and tropes they play with.

By contrast, Czechoslovak films like Oldřich Lipský's I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen… (Zabil jsem Einsteina, pánové…, 1969) or Václav Vorlíček's Who Wants to Kill Jessie? (Kdo chce zabit Jessii?, 1966) have big, original SF conceits about time travel and mind control that are then mined for absurd farce. It offers an escape hatch for science fiction fans who are tired of having to choose between empty spectacle and self-seriousness at the cinema, and Polák's Tomorrow I'll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea (Zítra vstanu a opařím se čajem, 1977) might be the ultimate example of this subgenre.

Tomorrow I'll Wake Up… exists at the intersection of three familiar subgenres which are rarely combined, yet in Polák's hands are so harmonious it's a wonder they've never co-existed before. It is a ticking-bomb thriller, a time travel movie about people from the future interfering in World War II, and it is a farce about a man of low status being mistaken for someone more important.

The primary pleasure of the film is the way in which the latter genre keeps rupturing the high seriousness which the first two depend on. All three genres require intricate plotting, which Tomorrow I'll Wake Up… absolutely delivers. It is not the intention of this booklet to go too deeply into the plot: there is a definite value to going in unspoiled and allowing the outrageous yet carefully set-up twists to catch you unawares.



Graham Williamson's complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the release.

Disc Info

Czechoslovakia, 1977
Main feature: 95 mins
Sound - Blu-ray: 1.0 Mono LPCM (48k/24-bit)
Sound - DVD: 1.0 Dolby Mono
Original aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Language: Czech, German
Subtitles: English

Blu-ray: BD25 / 1080 / 24fps Region ABC (Region Free)
DVD: PAL / DVD9 / 25fps Region 0 (Region Free)

DVD £12.99 / Blu-Ray: £19.99
Release Date: 25 Jan 2021


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