“The best films are like dreams you’re never sure you’ve really had.”
I’ve had this quotation stuck in my head for years. What a perfect thing to say about movies. Honestly I can never remember who said this. A quick google search reveals it’s a line Tilda Swinton’s character has in The Limits Of Control (2009). Is that really where it comes from? Jarmusch? It seems like something someone like Murnau or Buñuel must’ve said. In any case: I have been thinking a lot about this line lately because I’ve been watching a lot of especially dream-like films: Post Tenebras Lux (2012, Carlos Reygadas), Hors Satan (2011, Bruno Dumont), Juaja (2014, Lisandro Alonso) to name a few. Sometimes I think those of us who make our living stringing images together can get so caught up in the mechanics of everything, the technicalities, that we forget what an incredible opportunity to invent an alternate stream of consciousness making movies is. The default seems to be to always try and replicate our experience, with one thing happening and then another, a linear chronology. But of course there truly are no rules if you are willing to risk the alienation of the impatient. Film can become the God medium, with the power to transcend time and space, take you anywhere.
Writing for Cinema Scope magazine about Juaja, a writer named Quintín sums up what I’ve been pondering better than I ever could: “Like a Proustian device, a film is the place where different worlds come together, where dreams, history, and desire become one, where there’s no distance between actors, characters, and filmmakers, between facts, stories, and legends.”
I don’t know if it’s some sort of cosmic push-pull or whatever, but I’ve been dreaming like crazy lately. The sorts of dreams that take hours to shake off, that then require at least two cups of coffee in order to re-affirm one’s grip on reality. This is all feeding into my fascination with cinema-as-alternate-conciousness, with cinema-as-dream-you’re-not-sure-you’ve-had. Swinton’s character continues in The Limits Of Control: “I have this image in my head of a room full of sand. And a bird flies towards me, and dips its wing into the sand. And I honestly have no idea whether this image came from a dream, or a film.” How beautiful is that? Can you relate? I can relate.
This weekend my friends Doug and Maureen packed the contents of their house into a 5×8 U-Haul trailer and started to drive across the continent to a new life awaiting them in Athens, Georgia. I imagine it must feel something like a dream to them. My feelings were part-melancholy, part-jealousy. Melancholy at the thought of their absence, jealousy at the prospect of their adventure, the dramatic change in their lives, and their ability to actualize that potential.
Incidentally, Doug is a musician (with whom I’ve made a few videos) whose new album is called Dream Life. You can listen to the first single here, and in a month or so, we may or may not have a very dream-like film to accompany it.
Until next time.
Dylan – Edmonton, AB