The Machinist and States of Consciousness – Sleep Disorders
Hammonton High School
Trevor Reznik is a machinist who has suffered from severe weight loss to the point where he has become severely emaciated. His alarming appearance and strange behavior causes his co-workers to keep away, leaving him in the arms of Stevie, a prostitute who shows genuine compassion for him, only to lose her in the end. Trevor is also no longer able to think clearly and begins to suspect that the bizarre events in his life are a concerted effort to drive him insane. Throughout the film, the audience is able to evaluate Trevor’s sleeping habits, leading to the conclusion that every chance he is given to rest becomes indefinitely interrupted. With the characteristics Trevor shows, and the events in the film leading to the end, it is feasible to come to the conclusion that Trevor suffers from a severe case of insomnia.
“Guilt is effectively a form of anxiety or stress, so it's stress hormones that are preventing you from sleeping. It's a continuous flight or fight response, but the body isn't capable of dealing with prolonged stress, as the hormones make sleep difficult and lighter as it's expecting to have to run away soon.” (Ashley Morris, 2012, 1.) Throughout the film, we find Trevor’s insomnia partially stems from his own personal struggle with guilt. This is a feeling of responsibility or remorse for an offense or crime which has spiraled out of control, becoming a living hell created inside Trevor’s mind. Trevor is constantly worried he’s being followed and that he has to run away from his crime, leaving little time for sleep. So what Trevor guilty of? That is left for the audience to piece together themselves with different clues presented in the film. In a scene during the movie Trevor and Maria’s son Nicholas, both hallucinations made up by Trevor, go on a ride at an amusement park called ‘Route 666’. The ride quickly becomes an unsettling picture of Trevor’s mind along with taunting images. For example, the car moves past a dummy dressed as a Native American brandishing a severed hand, which serves as an obvious reminder to Trevor of the accident on the shop floor in which he was guilty of a coworker losing his hand. The car then approaches a fork in the road; to the left is a ‘Highway to Hell’ and to the right a ‘Road to Salvation’. Naturally, the car takes the ‘Highway to Hell’ route and there are more flashes of Trevor’s past, causing Nicholas to suffer from an epileptic fit.
Later in the film, Trevor finds he is confronted with a similar choice in an underground sewer while being chased by police. Ahead were two tunnels, one was darkened and the other well lit, but the shadow of a man was present around the corner of the lit tunnel. It feels as though the figure is meant to represent the true Trevor, but he chooses not to confront himself and the actions in which he is guilty of but instead heads for the darkness, running away from him self and the truth as to what he has done.
Unfortunately, in Trevor’s situation he was extremely guilty and suffered from bouts of paranoia and anxiety, but was not able to comprehend why until the film had concluded. This guilt not only affected Trevor’s inability to sleep, but altered many other factors in his life. The creation of Ivan, Trevor’s guilty conscience, could be seen as an escape and a way for Trevor to blame Ivan for the acts he committed. An example of this situation in the film would be when Trevor had shown more interest in Ivan than Miller, a co-worker, which resulted in Miller losing a part of his left arm. Trevor had easily blamed this on Ivan, which he himself believed to be a co-worker, although no one else had any record of him.