Author Topic: movies that end with dream sequences  (Read 2808 times)

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pete

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movies that end with dream sequences
« on: January 17, 2011, 04:19:21 PM »
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VAGUE SPOILERS

I've been doing a weekly film school session with my god-daughter who is 14 and has just moved to my side of California to live with her mom.  She's a bright girl and seems genuinely interested in cinema and writing and shooting.  Last night we went to see Rabbit Hole and I realized how so many of my favorite films end with a narrated dream sequence (and some non-narrated ones), and how effective they are.  I hope I'm not spoiling anything for anyone -

the 25th hour
raising arizona
last life in the universe
science of sleep
big fish
little dieter needs to fly
annie hall (in the form of a play)
shawshank redemption

I don't know what it is about these scenes in these movies - perhaps the heroes have gone through enough to earn a fleeting fantasy?  in all of these fantasies, the tone does not deviate much from the films themselves; but they are slightly too optimistic for the characters' current predicaments.
but on paper - this device seems so cheap; attaching closure in a way the screenwriter can't personally pull off within the logic of his own story.  but on film, I thought all of them were great.  and I also realized I can't think of any bad usage of this device.

any more endings, good or bad or similar, that you can think of?
« Last Edit: January 10, 2012, 08:03:27 PM by pete »
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children with angels

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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 06:30:53 PM »
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Eternal Sunshine, sort of: Joel and Clementine playing on the snowy beach is an image that we've previously seen through Joel’s mind’s-eye during his memory-wiping procedure. We can understand the first time this image is shown to be a depiction of a mixture of memory and imagination, since it ostensibly repeats something we later learn took place on the day of their first meeting (finding the abandoned house on the beach), but changed slightly (it's now snowing, the two seem already to be a couple). So the final image likely shows a (probably imagined) past. Unless they've gone back to the beach to try to recapture the day of their first meeting, which in itself is kind of like trying to live a fantasy.

I think it's an effective device precisely because of what you say: it brings a closure that isn't possible according to the logic of the story, but which we yearn for - that's why it feels so right in the moment. It draws attention to the gap between fantasy and reality, disillusioning us in the fantasy whilst simultaneously acknowledging the strength of our yearning for it.

There's a big difference, though, between movies like Big Fish that actually do this, and ones like Annie Hall or 25th Hour which ultimately return to reality, putting that division between realms back in place.
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pete

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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2011, 02:49:38 PM »
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can anyone think of examples where that type of ending is awful?
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Reinhold

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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2011, 03:16:30 PM »
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it doesn't quite fall into this category, but when Tommy Lee Jones tells his wife about his dreams in No Country for Old Men it's got a really interesting effect that I think is related to what you're discussing. For me, listening to him narrate is a very visual experience and it works really well to cap the sentiment of the film because it's relentlessly grounded in the real.
Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

tpfkabi

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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2011, 03:18:06 PM »
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it's been a long time since i've watched it, but the end of Shawshank is not meant to be taken as reality?
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pete

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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2011, 03:22:45 PM »
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I think it's ambiguous

from IMDB:
Quote
[last lines]
Red: [narrating] I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.
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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2011, 03:55:37 PM »
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don't forget Requiem for a dream. That scene on the pier, kinda like in your avatar
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tpfkabi

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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2011, 04:25:20 PM »
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I think it's ambiguous

from IMDB:
Quote
[last lines]
Red: [narrating] I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

I thought it was like reading something he had written before he took the journey, but you hear it as he makes it...but it's been way too long.

It's definitely shot dreamy, but does the viewer feel that way just because the scenery is so beautiful?
Road to Perdition is reality (as far as I know), but feels/look very dreamlike imo.
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pete

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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2011, 02:41:37 AM »
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you might be right - I also haven't seen it in a very long time.
I'm trying to think of an example where this device is misused, and I really can't think of one right now.
I am trying to write something of a scene, and I think a bad example might help me find some more rules in regards to this device.
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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2011, 03:47:56 AM »
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there will be blood.

i can't think of any that misuse it either. probably some shit movie not worth remembering.
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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 09:35:00 PM »
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are you for realzies? I never once even considered that..
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Pubrick

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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2011, 06:57:18 PM »
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i totally forgot i posted that..

yep, i would explain further in my review if i ever got around to writing it.

there is a lot that has not been explained about that movie... and if it's one thing i've learned from watching movies, it's that if something is not clearly explained, it must be a dream sequence.
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Re: movies that end with dream sequences
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2011, 10:18:50 PM »
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yeah, after doing a little research I guess you're right. There's a ton of things pointing to it, but I guess what really gives it away is that his servant just let's Eli into the house to meet with Daniel while he's passed out drunk on the floor? If that was my butler he'd be the one bloody and dead on the bowling alley
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