Dream Based Hollywood Movies

The first dream based movie that I remember was from the 80’s and was called Dreamscape. The basic premise was that there were these special dream people that could enter into your dreams and help you conquer the demons that lived within. Their goal was to go in there and help people who were having emotional issues, with the idea being they could get to the heart of the problem through their dreams. It was a cool concept that looked great back then, but which seems a little dated now. There may have been some copycat style movies released back then, but there are really none that come to mind until the 90’s.

The Cell was a movie that followed something of a similar concept to Dreamscape in that research was being done to enter into the dreams of troubled folks to help them through their problems. The twist here was that one of the subjects was a serial killer who had slipped into a comatose state, while still having a woman captive somewhere with the clock ticking. Jennifer Lopez played the psychiatrist charged with going into the killers mind and trying to extract the information. Where Dreamscape was all 80’s fun, The Cell had a dark heart beating at the center of it, albeit a visually stunning one. The scenes inside the head of the serial killer came pretty close to matching the weird look and feel of the average dream world, which made it all the more chilling.

The king of all dream movies was released just a few short years ago, though, and may very well be the one that sets the bar for any more to follow. Inception was a trippy tale of dream thieves whose job it was to get inside the head of subjects via their dreams and steal information that rival companies would willingly kill for. The movie paints this process, known as extraction, as fairly standard procedure, with the art of Inception being a whole lot harder to pull off. Inception was where these same thieves went inside the dream world and planted an idea that would cause the victim to completely alter their normal way of thinking.

Director Christopher Nolan painted these dream worlds in a way that is familiar to all of us, yet also added a number of dream layers that added to the experience. It was easy to forget exactly which level of the dream you were in while you watched, which actually made it all the more enjoyable since you were forced to really pay attention to what was going on. By the end credits you were left with the feeling of not really being sure what was real and what was part of the dream world. I found this to be particularly pleasing, especially since the lights coming up in the theater were the same as the first rays of daylight catching your eyes when you wake. That feeling of confusion and of being caught between the dream and real life was what made it work, and may very well explain why the movie touched a nerve with so many different people.