Mababangong Bangungot (Perfumed Nightmare)
For his first film, Kidlat Tahimik (meaning ‘quiet lightning’ in Tagalog) drew on his own experience living ‘in a cocoon of Americanized dreams’ for this tale of a village jitney driver, faithful student of Voice of America and its many lessons, and founder of his local Werner Von Braun fan club. Kidlat hopes to become an astronaut, or at the very least to strike it rich in the promised land. He makes it as far as Europe, where a series of rude and comical awakenings unfolds and Kidlat learns that the modern Western world is far from paradise. Tahimik, who later became a protégé of Werner Herzog in Munich, is a faux naif who uses the genuine naiveté of his hero – like Chaplin’s little Tramp – to inscribe a powerful portrait of the American colonization of Filipino dreams. But, like the charming, festooned ‘jeepny’ Tahimik constructed from an abandoned U.S. Army vehicle, the film creates something wholly original and imaginative from the discards of colonialism. In the words of Susan Sontag: “the Perfumed Nightmare makes one forget months of dreary moviegoing, for it reminds one that invention, insolence, enchantment – even innocence – are still available on film”.