In conjunction with World Sleep Day, Aref Omar lists some films that blur the lines between dreams and reality
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
A dark-humoured horror film that helped to define the slasher genre, it features the now iconic supernatural villain Freddy Krueger, who stalks and kills a group of teens in their dreams, killing them for real in reality.
Written and directed by Wes Craven, the critically and commercially successful movie spawned six sequels and a crossover film, Freddy Vs Jason (2003).
A reboot was released in 2010 and just like the character that won’t stay dead, there’s been talk of another possible remake.
This sci-fi dystopia from the fertile mind of director Terry Gilliam is a satire of bureaucracy and a dysfunctional industrial world, with shades of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Protagonist Sam Lowry leaves his soul-crushing existence to search for a woman in his dreams and ends up having the adventure of a lifetime.
There are two versions of this cult favourite: Gilliam’s original 142-minute cut with a dark finale and a studio-sanctioned 132-minute one with a happy ending.
TOTAL RECALL (1990)
A construction worker with recurring dreams of Mars and a mysterious woman is suddenly hunted down after visiting a company that commercially implants memories for recreation.
The experience unlocks his real, buried memories, which leads him to the Red Planet, where he uncovers a deadly conspiracy, and lots of cool pre-CGI special effects and action scenes.
Loosely inspired by the short story,
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale
by Philip K. Dick (whose many works also dealt with a thin line between reality and dreams), the fun romp stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone.
WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (1998)
Based on the 1978 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson, this fantasy drama has Robin Williams journeying through heaven and hell in search of his beloved wife after he dies in a car accident, resulting in lots of fantastical scenes fit for dreams.
THE MATRIX (1999)
One of the biggest franchises around, the Matrix trilogy collected over RM7.25 billion at the box office worldwide.
The first entry is still the best, which sees a stoic Keanu Reeves as the chosen one, Neo, who joins a rebel group fighting an overpowering machine race in an apocalyptic future after awakening from a computer-created reality.
Pop philosophy and kung-fu meld with late-1990s uber geek chic and visual effects for a mind-bending existential trip.
MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)
In typical David Lynch fashion, the director, who also wrote this neonoir mystery, takes a cryptic approach to present an at times dreamlike narrative that leaves the viewer to decipher its interpretation. It follows the adventures of an aspiring actress (played by Naomi Watts) who befriends an amnesiac (Laura Harring) in an apartment in Los Angeles.
Held together by several seemingly unrelated surreal and unsettling comedic scenes, this oddball film polarised viewers upon its release, drawing vile hate and astounding praise in equal measure.
VANILLA SKY (2001)
Described as a mix of sci-fi, romance and a reality warp, it’s an Englishlanguage remake of the 1997 Spanish film
Open Your Eyes.
Tom Cruise plays a vain, self-indulgent and privileged man whose life changes drastically after falling in love and then experiencing a car crash.
Now disfigured, he searches for the truth and eventually discovers that his subconscious has interfered with an artificial dream version of his real life, implanted by a commercial cryogenic company.
He has to decide to either wake up after 150 years or go back to sleep.
8 ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet play an estranged couple who only discover what they really had together after undergoing a procedure to have each other erased from their memories in this sci-fi dramedy.
Quirky French director Michel Gondry’s kiddie arts-and-crafts aesthetic combined with Charlie Kaufman’s Mobius-striptease script results in a non-linear movie that successfully combines high-concept with moving humanity and heart.
Gondry also directed the equally surrealistic fantasy comedy, The Science
Of Sleep (2006).
This Japanese anime movie is based on Yasutaka Tsutsui’s 1993 novel of the same name.
Forget real world logic and settle for a dazzling mind trip by following the adventures of a research psychologist who uses an experimental device that permits her to enter her patient’s dreams.
Things start to fall apart (literally) when the powerful machine is stolen and used for nefarious purposes.
It’s up to the titular hero to save the day and, by extension, reality.
Christopher Nolan, assembles a stellar cast for this totally mind-bending sci-fi movie, which he wrote and directed.
The high-concept thriller sees Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief known to steal info via the subconscious. He is offered the chance for a clean slate if he carries out the highly impossible task of implanting another person’s idea into a target’s subconscious. Phew!
A critical and commercial success, it was nominated for eight Oscars (winning four, including for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects).