Sur­real dream­scapes

In con­junc­tion with World Sleep Day, Aref Omar lists some films that blur the lines be­tween dreams and re­al­ity

New Straits Times - - Groove | Picks -



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.


BRAZIL (1985)

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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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).


PAPRIKA (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.


IN­CEP­TION (2010)

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).

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