Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In America => Topic started by: Kurugen on November 26, 2006, 09:32:03 PM



Title: Was it a dream?
Post by: Kurugen on November 26, 2006, 09:32:03 PM
Personally i think its a dream but i was wondering what everyone else thought.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 26, 2006, 09:34:30 PM
Up to interpretation. I'd like to think it wasn't a dream because that would be a big cop out.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 26, 2006, 10:06:31 PM
I don't think the WHOLE thing was a dream, just the 60's stuff.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 26, 2006, 10:12:03 PM
I don't think the WHOLE thing was a dream, just the 60's stuff.

Well that don't make any sense...it's either a dream or it's not.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Tuco the ugly on November 27, 2006, 08:31:43 AM
a dream? no


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 27, 2006, 05:22:53 PM
Well that don't make any sense...it's either a dream or it's not.

No, it makes perfect sense.

All the stuff in the 20's and 30's really happened, he really did set up his  buds, Max and the others, and they really did die. The only way he can cope with that is if he smokes a lot of opium. And in smoking the opium he creates a fantasy world where he never killed his best friend. And he never does kill his best friend. I also think that's why when he meets with Deborah in the 60's she doesn't appear to have aged at all, and they act as if the rape never happened.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 27, 2006, 05:50:08 PM

All the stuff in the 20's and 30's really happened, he really did set up his  buds, Max and the others, and they really did die. The only way he can cope with that is if he smokes a lot of opium. And in smoking the opium he creates a fantasy world where he never killed his best friend. And he never does kill his best friend. I also think that's why when he meets with Deborah in the 60's she doesn't appear to have aged at all, and they act as if the rape never happened.

I disliked you before...but now more so.

P.S. cool sig. ;)


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 27, 2006, 05:51:54 PM
I disliked you before...but now more so.

P.S. cool sig. ;)

Wha!?!?!?!?!???!!?!eleven!!lol.

what do you have against my TOTALLY PLAUSIBLE theory?


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 27, 2006, 05:54:32 PM
Wha!?!?!?!?!???!!?!eleven!!lol.

what do you have against my TOTALLY PLAUSIBLE theory?

eleven?

davado savada?

Fine, it is an interesting theory.

But I still don't like you.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 27, 2006, 05:57:41 PM
eleven?

davado savada?

Fine, it is an interesting theory.

But I still don't like you.

Also, the 20's and 30's stuff were actually true and in a memoir by Harry Grey called "The Hoods." The 60's stuff was completely an invention of Leone.

Another giveaway: After Max "jumps" in the garbage truck at the end, you will notice there is an extremely asian-looking building (presumably an opium den) right across the street, from the house.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 27, 2006, 05:59:01 PM
Also, the 20's and 30's stuff were actually true and in a memoir by Harry Grey called "The Hoods." The 60's stuff was completely an invention of Leone.

Another giveaway: After Max "jumps" in the garbage truck at the end, you will notice there is an extremely asian-looking building (presumably an opium den) right across the street, from the house.

yes all well and good but what's up with "eleven"?

you...you...mongoloid from Memphis you.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 27, 2006, 06:01:08 PM
yes all well and good but what's up with "eleven"?

you...you...mongoloid from Memphis you.

Eleven.

it's a joke. I noticed that when people do a lot of exclamation points in a row they occasionally, accidentally ease the pressure from the shift key at the very end or somewhere in the middle, resulting in a bunch of "1"s being mixed in with the exclamation points, like: !!!!1!!!!!!!!!1"

So I poke fun at it by saying !!!!!!one!!!1!!!eleven!!!11!!


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Poggle on November 27, 2006, 07:59:52 PM
Actually Deborah does look older at the party.

The rape is also mentioned in the form of, if I remember correctly, an apology or forgiveness for something, I forget the exact words.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Kurugen on November 27, 2006, 10:34:10 PM
its all a dream.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: dave jenkins on November 28, 2006, 09:00:29 AM
In the work of Sergio Leone, the terms "dream" and "cinema" are synonyms. The correct answer to the poll is "yes and no."


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Sanjuro on November 28, 2006, 11:29:45 AM
The beginning and end of the film are looped. They both belong to 1933. Actually they are the same scene - the opium den. Noodles comes to the place after the bank robbery by his buddies happened. So, everything preceding 1933 actually happened.

The question is everything in 1960s (the future). Is that creation of his dream while he is stoned? Or does it really happen?

I think Silezio's theory is certainly plausible, like The Da Vince Code is. It can well be based on Noodles' guilty conscience. On the other hand, how can he dream of The Beatles and TVs in 60s?

The film is left deliberately ambiguous. The smile of Noodles at the end tells you secretly everything.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 28, 2006, 01:12:42 PM
its all a dream.


nothing is real.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Sanjuro on November 28, 2006, 01:33:57 PM

nothing is real.

and nothing to get hungabout.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 28, 2006, 08:48:13 PM


The film is left deliberately ambiguous. The smile of Noodles at the end tells you secretly everything.

It certainly tells me everything: it tells me he's glad he got to briefly "live" in a world where he had no reason to feel guilt.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 28, 2006, 08:54:10 PM
Actually Deborah does look older at the party.

The rape is also mentioned in the form of, if I remember correctly, an apology or forgiveness for something, I forget the exact words.

I'm pretty sure there are no apologies or any mentionings of the rape at all in that scene. I haven't seen the film in a while though ... and I've only seen it twice. But I seem to remember whole threads on IMDb about people saying, "Why didn't Noodles aplogize (heartless bastard)!"



As for the damn party: I forgot about that, I just vaguely remember the wrinkly old deborah that you see outside with Max's son, I think. I'll have to watch the film again.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Sanjuro on November 28, 2006, 08:59:42 PM
Even before the party. Noodles sees Deborah behind the stage afther her performance. She reveals her old face as she wipes off her makeup.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 28, 2006, 09:10:14 PM
Even before the party. Noodles sees Deborah behind the stage afther her performance. She reveals her old face as she wipes off her makeup.

I HATE YOU!!!!!











Ok. I'll watch the movie again sometime before I continue this argument that I'm currently losing. Maybe for Christmas...


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Sanjuro on November 28, 2006, 09:12:43 PM
Are you old enough to see this film? Isn't this R rated?


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 28, 2006, 09:19:49 PM




As for the damn party: I forgot about that, I just vaguely remember the wrinkly old deborah that you see outside with Max's son, I think. I'll have to watch the film again.

There is a close-up of her once Noodle's is inside the party. You can clearly see she is older...


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 28, 2006, 09:20:12 PM
Are you old enough to see this film? Isn't this R rated?

Uh-oh. Looks like ya caught me.  ::)


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Sanjuro on November 28, 2006, 09:21:49 PM
Uh-oh. Looks like ya caught me.  ::)

 ;D


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 28, 2006, 09:24:45 PM
Are you old enough to see this film? Isn't this R rated?

Thanks for reminding me Sanjuro.

You saved me from sending Silenzio potential mind warping dvds.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Sanjuro on November 28, 2006, 09:27:28 PM
Sounds like you almost got him in a trouble from his parents.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 28, 2006, 09:30:17 PM
Sounds like you almost got him in a trouble from his parents.
Yes I don't think they would have appreciated me sending him "Debbie does Dallas" and "Deep Throat". He BEGGED me for these titles.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 28, 2006, 09:32:11 PM
Yes I don't think they would have appreciated me sending him "Debbie does Dallas" and "Deep Throat". He BEGGED me for these titles.

Shucks....


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Sanjuro on November 28, 2006, 09:40:15 PM
"Mary Poppins" will be safe for Silenzio.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 28, 2006, 09:42:42 PM
"Mary Poppins" will be safe for Silenzio.

Oh boy! sounds great!

Then there's the "Full House" marathon on Nick at Nite tomorrow! Can this week be any better? I SUBMIT THAT IT CAN NOT!


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 28, 2006, 09:50:50 PM
Silenzio Great News!!!!!


I'm sending you "Bed knobs and Broomsticks" and the UNCUT version of "The sound of music" (featuring EXTRA SONGS!!!!).

Good thing Sanjuro brought your age to my attention. I was gonna send you hard core sex, nudity and violence.

Phew...thanks Sanjuro.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 28, 2006, 09:54:02 PM
(featuring EXTRA SONGS!!!!).


Whoa boy! Looks like I'll have more to memorize!


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Sanjuro on November 28, 2006, 09:54:12 PM
Seems like I've just saved a minor from sex offence.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 28, 2006, 09:55:19 PM
Seems like I've just saved a minor from sex offence.

and you saved me a lawsuit.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Silenzio on November 28, 2006, 09:56:28 PM
And you saved my virgin eyes from being permanently scarred!


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 28, 2006, 09:58:49 PM
speaking of which...should you be wacthing "Giu La Testa"?


get your mother on the board.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Kurugen on November 29, 2006, 09:08:30 PM
it is a dream. Its just the way its edited does it make it look like its not. Everything after the Opium Den is a dream. The hard part for the viewer is to figure whats part of the dream and whats real.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: The Firecracker on November 29, 2006, 11:11:06 PM
it is a dream.



Burden of proof.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Sanjuro on November 30, 2006, 02:36:19 AM
or burden of dreams ;D.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: Juan Miranda on November 30, 2006, 02:54:36 PM
No. No no no no no no.

No. There endeth my argument.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: mikkisixx on December 16, 2006, 05:44:32 AM
Hi, Im new in this forum and i got on question i want to have an answer on. Lets say its a dream and he smiles because now deborah can love him now, but did he get killed when he was smiling or did he escape the gangsters in the end, the book says that he escapes but is it so ?


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: cigar joe on October 18, 2009, 07:11:49 AM
by spira84 1 day ago (Fri Oct 16 2009 22:46:03)  Ignore this User | Report Abuse 
 

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for me, the most beautiful issue of the dream theory is the psychologic aspect of it.

Noodles feels pretty much guilt for what happened to Max (i.e. he got killed). So he creates in his mind a future where Max turned things upside down and took his revenge upon him. Furthermore, he also regrets hardly having raped deborah, and turns out, she became what she wanted to become, even though that was unlikely to happen.

To top it off, She got togheter with Max. Noodles got the greatest possible punishment for his faults to the ones he loved the most. He felt he deserved it. But in his fantasy, their love would still remain intact: Max would want his son to be called David and Deborah would still want him to be well and safe.

Max wouldn't have stayed with that blond woman (forgot her name), Noodles hated her, and didn't like the fact that Max was with her. Apparently, she ended up alone.



Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: dave jenkins on October 19, 2009, 07:54:02 AM
One aspect which is not often discussed is what prompted Leone to structure the film in the way he did.  What prompted him to come up with the is it a dream? is it reality? idea. 
He didn't. The idea came afterwards, and when it was suggested to him he did not deny it. He may have just been in Showman Mode at that point, however, happy to accept anything that would allow for the broadest possible acceptance/audience. But there is no proof that SL actually went into the project with the dream/reality concept in mind.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: MatViola on October 19, 2009, 07:54:13 PM
Quote
He didn't. The idea came afterwards, and when it was suggested to him he did not deny it. He may have just been in Showman Mode at that point, however, happy to accept anything that would allow for the broadest possible acceptance/audience. But there is no proof that SL actually went into the project with the dream/reality concept in mind.

Actually, there is. Here's a quote from an article Stuart Kaminsky wrote about the film around the time of its original release:

"The first script I received from Leone indicated in a covering note that he was quite concerned with two aspects of the script: the fantasy/fairy-tale nature of the story and the importance of time as both a theme of the dialogue and an element in the presentation."

In a footnote he quotes Leone as saying in the note: "And it is this unrealistic vein that interests me the most, the vein of the fable, though a fable for our own times and told in our own terms. And, above all, the aspects of hallucination, or a dream journey, induced by the opium with which the film begins and ends, like a haven and a refuge."

Kaminsky says, "This quote is taken from the note given to the author and other members of the writing and production staff by Leone."


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: dave jenkins on October 19, 2009, 08:22:49 PM
Please give me a full citation, chapter and verse.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: MatViola on October 19, 2009, 08:33:59 PM
Please give me a full citation, chapter and verse.

Chapter 3 of the 1985 edition of Kaminsky's American Film Genres. The chapter is entitled 'Once Upon a Time in America as Narrative Model."

I don't own the book, but I printed this chapter from it years ago.

http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/10850494 (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/10850494)


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: cigar joe on October 20, 2009, 03:42:11 AM
Quote
In the same book, Kaminsky also comments on why, if it is supposed to be a dream, real objects from the future were used:

"Is the whole tale an opium dream by Noodles - a dream in which what he projects as a wasted life will be justified in the future, in which, in fantasy, he will discover that he did not betray his friends at all but was, himself, the tragic victim who becomes the tragic hero?

A problem with this, though it is a possibility favored by the director, Leone, is that the period information in 1968 is contextually specific. In a novel, the illusion might well carry. In the film, we see television, 1968 automobiles, 1968 clothing, a frisbee, etc. The information is not a distortion alone, but if it is an opium fantasy, then it is the fantasy of a seer. We might also argue that we are dealing with a problem of convention. The fantasy of the future will lose the context of assumed naturalism of that future (which is, in this case, 1968, our past) which deviates from our experience of that world. Simply put, we have a sense of what existed in 1968. Were that to be confounded in a projection clearly seen as fantasy from 1933, it would change the genre of perception. Note, for example, the odd sensation of examining the "future" in a film that is now past. Just Imagine, Things to Come, and The Time Machine - all three predict a future that did not come to be, but that was in the realm of science fiction.

What, as in the case of Once Upon a Time in America, do we do if we do not want to deal with the assumption of how the future will look to someone fantasizing in 1933."

But this is why the quote I recently found on IMDB is interesting, the author suggests that Noodles is not dreaming in 1933 but in the present and looking back on his life in a dream/hallucination which would explain the existance of frisbees the cars, etc., etc.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: dave jenkins on October 20, 2009, 06:11:36 PM
Chapter 3 of the 1985 edition of Kaminsky's American Film Genres. The chapter is entitled 'Once Upon a Time in America as Narrative Model."

I don't own the book, but I printed this chapter from it years ago.

http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/10850494 (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/10850494)
Huh, for some reason I didn't know about that book, thanks. That link you sent was great: not only did it tell me there was a copy in a library 2 miles away (@ SUNY Purchase) it also linked me to a seller at amazon who was offering the book for 1 cent (you had to pay 3.99 for shipping, but still.) Needless to say, I've ordered a copy and will take a look as soon as it arrives.


Title: Re: Was it a dream?
Post by: twood on November 25, 2009, 09:28:33 AM
The problems with supporting exclusively the dream theory:

Objects and depicted events in the 1968 scenes - television sets, outside broadcasts, cars, car rentals, speakers in the mausoleum, frisbees, Jimi Hendrix, CCTV and surveillance system in Bailey's mansion etc

A viewer who watches a movie for almost 4 hours to discover that it was all just a dream may feel disappointed

Leones' statement that the film offers a double reading

Leones' statement that it is maybe the first time a film has actually finished on a flashback

Leone's written note to Stuart Kaminsky and other members of the writing and production staff in August 1981:

"Time and the years are one other essential element in the film. In the source of them, the characters have changed, some of them rejecting their past identities and even their names - and yet in spite of themselves, they have remained bound to the past and to the people they knew and were. They have gone separate ways; some have realized their dreams, for better or worse; others have failed. But growing from the same embryo, as it were, after the careless self-confidence of youth, they are united again by the force that had made them enemies and driven them apart - Time."

The problems with all the movie being reality:

The practicalities of gangsters leaving millions of dollars in a railway station locker

The complex plan of Max faking his own death

Max hitching up with Deborah, moving back to New York and rising to a prominent governmental position without Fat Moe, Noodles or Carol knowing anything about it or the authorities discovering his past.

Deborah not being withered by age

Leones' statement that the film offers a double reading

Leone's written note to Stuart Kaminsky and other members of the writing and production staff in August 1981:
"And it is this unrealistic vein that interests me most, the vein of the fable, though a fable for our own times and told in our own terms. And, above all, the aspects of hallucination, or a dream journey, induced by the opium with which the film begins and ends, like a haven and a refuge."

A director has limited input into a film's final meaning and interpretation. It's ultimately down to viewers to decide for themselves what they are are seeing on screen and how to interpret it.

In addition to Leone, there was Harry Grey, five other credited writers, one uncredited writer and the late Stuart Kaminsky. In the chapter on OUATIA in the revised edition of Kaminsky's book "American Film Genres" he summarises:

"A final point worth noting again is that the film never comes to the audience's present or an approximation of it. There is no historical present for the audience. The closest we come to the assumed "now" of the viewer is 1968. The entire film, therefore, is set in the past. There is no assumed present.

Noodles begins and ends alone, friendless, womanless, with no family - only memories and time, which, ultimately, may be all that any of us have. Once Upon A Time in America, for all of its allusion to fantasy and fairy tale, suggests that the power of the fairy tale, the myth, the fantasy, is to bring the viewer and Noodles to an ultimate reality, that the fairy-tale beginning of "Once Upon A Time" really means that what we have is a truth about all tales and conclusions and the vanity of believing that we have anything beyond our imagination and mythology."