Saturday, June 16, 2012

To Sleep Perchance To Dream


When I’ve dabbled in fictional writing, a lot of my stories revolve around dreams. At university a lot of the analytical writings I did were on dreams. Hell I would try and put the topic in courses that had nothing to do with them. So the power of Dreams is something pretty important to me. It got me wandering what movies really spoke to me in regards to dreams and dreaming. Now here is the list of films that either influenced me or I really dug thanks to the dream elements.

Dreamscape: This is the movie that really started it all for me. I watched this as a kid, and even though the snake man scared the living crap out of me I was hooked. If I was being honest I will admit I haven’t gone back to watch this movie as I’m sure as an adult now (or at least as much of an adult as I can be) the movie won’t speak to me the same way. But I think we can all agree Denis Quaid is awesome. Some have said that Inception is a direct rip off of this movie, but I think the idea of influencing someone’s dream is one that intrigues and scares us. Funnily enough it comes up a few times on this list.


The Cell: This really spoke to me in a time when I was really starting to get into writing. Creepy, disturbing, and a brilliant look into the dreams of a serial killer; it showed me a darker side of dreams. Unlike Freddy Krueger who uses peoples nightmares against them, this was the serial killers own heaven and hell. It created a world that showed the worst excess of Carl Stargher and at the same time made him sympathetic, as we saw how his own mind affected him. I think a lot of people dismiss this movie because of Jennifer Lopez, which is a shame as she isn’t that bad in this movie.


Un Chien Andalou: Known in English as An Andalusian Dog, it’s a short movie made by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. I got a chance to watch this during one of my many subjects during university. This is as if someone, somehow, managed to film someone’s dream. Time means nothing, imagery is random and yet symbolic and trying to derive meaning from it is pointless as everyone’s interpretation is correct. It may seem like a little too artsy for some folks, but for anyone who likes to see dream interpreted on the screen, do yourself a favour and search this movie out.


Shutter Island: You were expecting that other Leonardo DiCaprio movie about dreams that came out the same year. Well while I did love Inception, I can’t say it had anything in it that was influential. Shutter Island on the other hand gives us some fine examples of lucid dreaming. In fact the camera tricks on display create a very dream like world. There are moments when we know Teddy is dreaming, but it’s the moments that we aren’t sure that really do work. This is one of those movies you can watch a second time and pick up on elements that might have been missed the first time. I think something like this can only really be accomplished by a director as masterful as Martin Scorsese, someone who knows that small tricks can mean a lot.


A Nightmare on Elm Street: It had to be here somewhere. Personally I really like number 3 in the series. Sure this is when wise cracking Freddy really came to the fore, but I liked the idea of characters defining themselves in dreams, to which Freddy came along and began screwing with them all. Still the first is really dark, and I must admit sometimes I wake from bad nightmares and I can’t shake the feeling of a dark presence not only in my dreams, but watching over me as I fall asleep. Freddy is the monster we all really fear, the one that can get us when we are all vulnerable.


Total Recall: Finally why not end this movie with some cheese. Now the ending does try and have the audience question whether this was all a dream, but for me that’s not really the most important thing. When it comes to this movie, I’m fascinated at how everything transpires, simply because a man has a dream. It’s weird to think that something as simple as dream can make us do an action that seems so innocent, and then bam you’ve got Michael Ironside on your ass. Okay this might be the weakest link on the list of movies, but I think everyone should watch Total Recall at least once.

So there’s a look at a few movies that have influenced my love of dreams. There are other movies out there, that do have surreal imagery that is dream like, but they don’t really deal with dreams so I didn’t think I should put them on the list. But some of these for the curious are Toys, What Dreams May Come (yes dream is in the damn title, but it’s about the after life), Deep Red and Natural Born Killers. Anyway that’s it for now, so goodnight and good luck. You’ll need it if my Dream/Soul Catcher experiment works.

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