Czech the Time
I was gifted a copy of TOMORROW I’LL WAKE UP AND SCALD MYSELF WITH TEA about seven years ago, and never got around to watching it. Something about the title put me off. I lump it in with HOW TASTY WAS MY LITTLE FRENCHMAN — a cute title that doesn’t make me want to see the film, or understand why I might be expected to.
But when I realized that the movie is a time travel yarn, I was more intrigued. The title starts to work, and it moves to the next level when the main character actually fulfills it. Now he’s woken up and scalded himself, all we need is the “tomorrow” part. And since the hero works for an airline that offers flights into the past using a Czech-onvented time machine, we don’t have long to wait.
Jindrich Polák’s film, based on a short story by Josef Nesvadba, is all plot — the character’s are purest Czechoslovakian cardboard, the science is non-existent, the logic governing the science is seriously wonky (it’s never explained why the time-travellers have to fly into space before temporal relocation takes place) and the visual style is pretty pathetic.
Oh, apart from the titles (at 1min 18)
I remember Milos Forman, in Richard Schickel’s Chaplin documentary, talking about the release he felt when seeing THE GREAT DICTATOR and finally being able to laugh at Hitler. There’s something nice about this sequence, because it’s actually the real Hitler being made ridiculous.
In brief, some surviving Nazis in Brazil steal a briefcase sized atomic bomb from Strategic Air Command and plan to hijack a time-rocket back to 1944 to help Hitler win the war. But the Czech pilot they’ve bribed chokes to death on a bread roll (or, as the IMDb quaintly describes it, “dies in a breakfast accident”) and he’s replaced by his identical twin brother, who covets the corrupt twin’s life. He now finds himself embroiled in a Nazi time travel plot not of his own making, and serve him right you may feel. But he’s actually quite sympathetic, as he tries to resolve everything happily, thwarting the Nazis, finding true love twice over, and setting up enough temporal paradoxes to make Stephen Hawkings’ head spin, which would be a nice change for him I suppose.
I usually find Czech fantasies from this period visually impressive (the Technicolor people in THE CASSANDRA CAT, or the lemon-yellow vistas of THE LEMONADE KID, or the Svankmajer decor in THE STRANGE CASTLE IN THE CARPATHIANS) but curiously uninvolving and not as funny as they think they are. This one is consistently amusing in its plot contrivances, even if it basically looks like ass.
But there are some neat effects — someone had the idea of out-of-focus foreground details to make the scene more convincing.