‘Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scold Myself With Tea’ or — Better Than ‘Tenet’?
It’s got a premise and opening titles (Disco Hitler?) so wacky that ‘Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scold Myself With Tea’ (1977) risks running out of steam, or collapsing under its own conceptual excess, before its even begun!
In the near future some unaging Nazis decide to travel back in time, time tourism being a popular recreational activity in the future, to the close of WW II so they can present Hitler with a stolen hydrogen bomb so Germany can win the war. When Karel, the pilot of the time rocket-ship they have paid to transport them, chokes to death on a roll over breakfast his identical twin brother (and designer of the time rocket), Jan, decides to take his brother’s place in order to spare the feelings of his brother’s fiancée, whom Jan also loves. So he dons his brother’s pilot uniform and heads to the space port, only to discover everyone thinks he, or should that be Karel, is a sexist, lecherous wretch.
Jan is also unaware that he is not going to be piloting some tourists back in time to see the dinosaurs but will be piloting some Nazis back in time to the Third Reich. The Nazis are unaware their accomplice is unaware of their mission. This could get messy.
Will the time travelling Nazis succeed in getting a hydrogen bomb to Hitler or will Jan stop their fiendish plan to change the course of history? And, most importantly of all, will Mr. and Mrs. White get to see the dinosaurs? Watch ‘Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scold Myself With Tea’ and find out!
The good news is that this film lives up to, and fully delights in, the craziness of its conceit as we bounce about time with Nazis, rockets and a hydrogen bomb. Director Jindřich Polák, who also directed the more serious minded space epic ‘Ikarie BX-1’, takes a cleverly judicious and almost minimalistic approach to selling all the future tech and space ships, providing all the appropriate glimpses to give the entire world just the right amount of visual integrity. It’s pretty impressive.
Yet, bizarrely enough, what you might expect to be the big pull of this movie — satirising Nazis through an almost Pynchon-esque lens — turns out to be the least interesting aspect about ‘TIWUASMWT’. Sure, all the Hitler stuff is suitably outrageous and funny but it’s in the film’s last third when it focuses purely on time travel and its paradoxes that everything really clicks into place, turning the movie from a satirical comedy into a full on time heist, and a very successful one at that. It’s certainly more satisfying than ‘Tenet’ (2020) in that respect.
It now all becomes about Jan figuring out, and sorting out, the temporal mess they’re all in. We’re also not quite sure exactly what Jan’s up to. Is he attempting to “rescue” Karel? He was a fascist after all. Or maybe to stop Hitler once and for all? Or maybe Jan has something else in mind?
The result takes ‘TIWUASMWT’ into another Christopher Nolan territory, namely ‘The Prestige’ (2006) and the tricky issue of what to do with duplicates. Before long we have a full blown temporal farce on our hands and the way it is constructed, planned and executed is seriously entertaining. It’s very similar, and as much fun, as ‘Back To The Future Part II’ (1989) in the way it delights in the knottiness of time travel and the consequences of it all.
The ending, without giving too much away, is similar to another Czechoslovakian comedy, ‘Lemonade Joe’ (1964), in that both films climax to a state of Maximum Possible Happiness, where the best potential outcome is realised even if it’s as ludicrous as all buggery. Indeed, the ludicrous of it all simply heightens the joy.
I was hoping ‘Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scold Myself With Tea’ would be a sort of Kurt Vonnegut, ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ style crazy, cosmic comedy involving conspiracy theories, rockets, Nazis, time travel and breakfasts, and it is that to a certain extent, but only to a certain extent as that’s also mis-selling the film somewhat as it is more a carefully constructed temporal farce.
It’s the initial satirical outrageousness of it all that will grab the attention but it’s the intricacies of the plotting that will suck you in and where this film’s real pleasure lies.