Dreamscape

DreamscapeposterYear: 1984

Synopsis: The psychically gifted Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) finds himself on a project experimenting with shared dreams, and soon learns not all is as it seems.

Pros:
• An original story that strongly embraced its mixed themes, especially lucid dreaming.
• The film did not take itself that seriously through its sense of humor, as all the actors, especially Quaid, clearly enjoyed themselves.
• The majority of the dreamed visuals were equal parts haunting as they were surreal. The practical effects were especially well implemented.
• The Cold War elements were implemented well, as it was surprisingly prescient to actual arms reduction talks conducted in 1986.
• Quaid’s Alex portrayal of the imperfect hero was something now often seen in today’s superhero films.
• Christopher Plummer played the villainous Bob Blair perfectly. It was unsurprising that the character slept well at night, making him just that much more terrifying on repeat viewings.

Cons:
• The film’s ambition might have been a bit beyond its budget.
• The Cold War framing might seem a bit dated for today’s audience.
• Though technically important to the plot, Alex non-consensually entering DeVries’ dream was debatable at best.

Discussion:
“Wise men have interpreted dreams, and the gods have laughed.” H.P. Lovecraft, Hypnos (1923)

While Inception (2010) applied the labyrinthine possibilities of lucid dreaming more recently, Dreamscape worked to discover them. The possibilities portrayed were raw and apparent: psychological help, espionage, assassination. It was unlikely a coincidence that there were more “negative” possibilities. We might all just be our true selves in dreams, and would never expect another consciousness to sneak into our personal world within our own minds. The invader could simply find the safe filled with trade secrets, or find ways to destroy our minds. The very possibility of an invader can be disquieting. Indeed, Dreamscape speculated that some can learn to invade other people’s dreams without some special apparatus. But perhaps the most horrifying thing in all movies about dreams is the suggestion of how easy it can be too loose track of the dreaming and waking worlds.


Rotten Tomatoes — 77%

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