Designed for a receptive, cool, hip 1960s audience, this chilling short (54 minutes) fable from director Peter Sykes explores RD Laing’s thesis that schizophrenia and crime are the only sane responses to a sick society.
A hitchhiker (Manfred Mann vocalist Paul Jones) beheads the vacuous driver who gives him a lift (Tom Kempinski) by slamming a car bonnet (hood) down on him, then sews his head back on.
Although slightly miffed and a bit wobbly on his feet, the driver then drives on as if nothing unusual has happened.
A few days later, our hitchhiker (a draftsman) is summoned to a mansion in the countryside to appear before a committee – which may represent authority or the state – where he engages in lengthy existentialist conversations but fears that his summoning is linked to the previous incident.
Syd Barrett was originally asked to contribute a musical score but failed to deliver. In the end, Pink Floyd delivered 11 minutes of instrumental segments plus an early version of Careful With That Axe Eugene. Their entire session was recorded in one morning.
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown also appear in the film, performing the rather apt Nightmare.
Strange, sometimes confusing, pretentious and certainly disturbing, The Commitee is a brilliant time capsule of late 60s Britain in all its psychedelic glory.
Peter Sykes went on to direct Steptoe and Son Ride Again (1973).
Robert Langdon Lloyd