Dreams on Film

The Cinematic Struggle Between Art and Science

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About the Book

Films with dream sequences, or a dreamlike quality, allow directors to create their own rules of logic and nature to meet a variety of artistic needs. For instance, an opening dream immediately establishes what a character is feeling; a later dream—or series of them—provides viewers with a glimpse of the climax, and a concluding dream ties up loose ends. (In real life, of course, dreams do not occur at such convenient times or serve such useful purposes.) This book explores why science is lost or distorted in the process of representing dreams on film and why audiences prefer this figurative truth of art over the literal truth of science. Part One discusses changes in form and considers the history of dream theory. Additionally, the physiology of sleeping and dreaming, dream structure, sleep deprivation, dreams under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and waking up, as depicted on film, are examined. Part Two investigates changes in content, and delves into the psychology of sleeping and dreaming, dream interpretation, altered states of consciousness, visions and prophecies, dreams as wish fulfillment, sex and death, nightmares, and reality versus illusion. The author uses theories by Freud, Jung, and current experts in her analyses of dream sequences and their use in film.

About the Author(s)

Writer Leslie Halpern has worked as a columnist for Markee Magazine, film correspondent for The Orlando Sentinel film reviewer for So London Magazine, and stringer for The Hollywood Reporter. She lives in Oviedo, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Leslie Halpern
Foreword by Robert Smither
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 209
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1596-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8076-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Foreword by Robert Smither      1
Preface      3
Introduction: The Dream Sequence      5

PART I: TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES
1. History of Dream Theory      13
2. Physiology of Sleeping and Dreaming      21
3. Dream Structure      29
4. Sleep Deprivation      37
5. Dreams Under the Influence      46
6. Waking Up      54

PART II: CREATIVE DIFFERENCES
7. Psychology of Sleeping and Dreaming      67
8. Dream Interpretation      73
9. Altered States of Consciousness      82
10. Visions and Prophesies      92
11. Dreams as Wish Fulfillment      103
12. Dream Themes: Sex and Death      114
13. Nightmares      126
14. Dream Elements      138
15. Dream Symbols      147
16. Reality vs. Illusion      161

Conclusion      178
Filmography      181
Notes      189
Bibliography      191
Index      195

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “surely the best book now available on the powerful and multi-faceted connection between cinematic and oneiric experience. Halpern clearly loves both dreams and movies, and she brings wit, intelligence, and passion to the study of their relationship…not only an important addition to the literature on dreams and creativity, but also a contribution to our understanding of how dreams are viewed in a society where films are a dominant cultural medium”—Dream Time
  • “groundbreaking”—Markee.