Perfumed Nightmare

(Mababangong bangungot)


Kidlat Tahimik, Dolores Santamaria, Mang Fely, Katrin Muller,

Christopher Pavsek, associate professor of film at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, is the author of the forthcoming The Utopia of Film: Cinema and Its Futures in Godard, Kluge, and Tahimik.

"Makes one forget months of dreary movie-going, for it reminds one that invention, insolence, enchantment, even innocence, are still available to film."-Susan Sontag

(Mababangong Bangungot). A Cape Canaveral–obsessed Filipino who dreams in red, white, and blue slowly awakens from his “cocoon of Americanized dreams” in Kidlat Tahimik's affectionately ramshackle debut work, which came out of nowhere in 1977 to be heralded as a masterpiece of Third World Cinema, and is now also recognized as one of the finest personal-essay films ever made. Part documentary, part staged fictions, the film travels with its hero, the jeepney driver “Kidlat Tahimik,” from the Philippines to Europe and back again, befriending everyone from an elderly German lady who sells him eggs to a Filipino craftsman, who reminds this Westernized lad that “someday, you will see the quiet strength of bamboo.” Tackling weighty issues like postcolonial identity, exile and immigration, and globalization with easygoing charm and a fittingly “waste-nothing” aesthetic, Perfumed Nightmare defined a new standard in world cinema, proudly resistant, proudly indigenous. “I am Kidlat Tahimik,” declares its narrator, taking ownership of self-definition and the power of choice, “I choose my vehicle, and I cross all bridges.” 

Perfumed Nightmare “reminds one that invention, insolence, enchantment, even innocence, are still available to film,” Susan Sontag wrote. It merges reverie and documentary as jeepney driver “Kidlat Tahimik” dreams of a trip to the moon. Tahimik’s surreal ethnography finds wonder and mystery both at home in the Philippines and in Europe, where his ambition guides him. Critic Gene Youngblood described Perfumed Nightmare as “a bizarre, hallucinatory movie full of dazzling images and outlandish ideas. It’s both real and surreal, poetic and political, naive and wise, primitive and supremely accomplished . . . a dazzling testament to the liberty of the imagination.”

  • Kidlat Tahimik
  • Kidlat Tahimik
  • Hartmut Lerch
  • Tagalog
  • German
Print Info
  • Color

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