Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In America => Topic started by: cigar joe on October 18, 2009, 07:09:45 AM



Title: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: cigar joe on October 18, 2009, 07:09:45 AM
Anyway, here was a recent interesting take on the Dream Theory on IMDB:

by spira84 1 day ago (Fri Oct 16 2009 22:46:03) 

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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: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Dust Devil on October 18, 2009, 11:28:21 AM
We're in the Twilight Zone now, where pretty much everything's possible.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: dave jenkins on October 18, 2009, 01:00:38 PM
Well, that's the nature of dreams. A film is itself a dream, but one that has been ordered along certain lines. To compound the irreality of a film by introducing another level of artifice--to make a dream of a dream, if you will--is to throw out all that anchors a movie to actual life. At that point every meaning is possible, every interpretation valid, even an incoherent one. We are left with nothing more than sounds of bleating. Discussion must, perforce, come to a complete halt.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: moviesceleton on October 24, 2009, 02:20:01 AM
Anyway, here was a recent interesting take on the Dream Theory on IMDB:

by spira84 1 day ago (Fri Oct 16 2009 22:46:03) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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.

This interpretation leaves out of the count that eventually Noodles has his revenge by not accepting Max's offer and thus not recognizing him. This doesn't support the view that Noodles' dream is completely an indication of his guilt. Yes, for the most of "the dream" Noodles is the one who gets punished but in the end Max is the biggest loser (or at least equal to Noodles).


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: dave jenkins on November 18, 2009, 11:03:08 AM
This interpretation leaves out of the count that eventually Noodles has his revenge by not accepting Max's offer and thus not recognizing him.
That's one way to interpret it, but not the way I do. I think the line of development through Leone's work regarding the topic of revenge goes like this: in FAFDM the revenge quest (Mortimer chasing Indio) receives its traditional presentation; in GBU Tuco's obsession with getting Blondie for his betrayal is treated comically; in DYS (I pass over OUATITW as having been directed not by Leone but by Meta-Leone) Mallory knows that, having taken revenge once in the past (on Nolan for his betrayal), it is better not to do so again (in the case of Viellga and his betrayal) but to offer the betrayer a chance at redemption. Finally, in the case of Noodles, who lived many years under the misapprehension that he had betrayed his friends, upon learning that the betrayal came in fact from another quarter, decides not to accept the revelation (and thus re-order matters in his mind) but to continue in his false belief for the sake of his memories. He would prefer to remember Max as he had always done, rather than re-cast him in the role of a betrayer, even though that means not letting himself off the hook. The need for revenge thus withers away since the sense of having been wronged is inconsistent with the way Noodles has decided to view matters.

Needless to say, this act of self-abnegation is made stronger if it is happening in the real world rather than some kind of dream reality, which is one of the reasons I dislike the dream theory.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: cigar joe on March 16, 2011, 11:46:15 AM
Another from premierstudio on IMDb:

As said earlier, there are many threads on this discussion board going into all the reasons why many believe that everything after the Opium Den is a drug induced dream – these can of course be repeated if anyone wants or alternatively just keep going back through the threads until you find the relevant posts.

Whether you buy into these theories or not is totally up to the individual (although I believe it is accepted that Leone made several references to the fact that both versions were intended and therefore it is up to the viewer to interpret which version they believe/like) however, the one notion I really don’t agree with here is the comment that the film has no merit or is ‘a big nothing’ if the dream theory were in fact true.

The whole basis of the dream theory is that Noodles is struggling to accept what he caused to happen and therefore he chooses Opium as a means to escape this reality. Once in this drugged up condition he completes his escape by imagining/dreaming a version of the future where he is not to blame – he is clearly guilt ridden by the phone call he made to the cops, as depicted by the constant phone ringing sound in the first 5 mins and the way we see him jump out of his ‘dream’ when the phone is picked up (which was the first real clue in the film that what we are watching is in his mind/dream), and so this clearly shows that he blames himself for the death of his friends.

A film that explores a guilt-ridden mind and how this mind then concocts a version of events to clear himself of all guilt is totally valid and as worthwhile a fictional story as any other film – I can understand there are those that don’t like this storyline and therefore sit far happier with one that only deals only in 'real' events and not what goes on in a persons mind, and it is possible for this reason why Leone gave us both feasible alternatives and didn’t make it 100% clear that only one interpretation was possible – maybe some part of him didn’t want to alienate one side of his audience.

But whatever the reason, I just can’t accept that a film has no merit simply because it has a dream element to it – I can totally understand that there are films where a story unfolds and then right at the end they wake up and ‘oh boy, it was all just a dream!” and that is the full explanation of everything that went before, but this really is not the same – as I have said, in this case the dream is used for a perfectly valid reason and not just as a simple copout – so this dream shows how Noodles ‘invented a truth’ to resolve himself from the terrible guilt he felt due to a plan that was intended to do good by saving the life of his best friend Max, but in fact totally backfired and led to the death of all his friends and he alone survived – this is a perfectly valid scenario and the dream theory shows how his mind handles this awful guilt. Personally, I think it’s brilliant.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 15, 2012, 08:57:35 AM


check out  this clip at 4:30 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFLua0roJnI&feature=relmfu

Leone said at the Rome premiere that the movie can be interpreted as an opium dream. I don't there is any way in hell that you can say that the dream theory is completely wrong. I can agree with someone who argues that it is clearly meant to be a dream, and I can agree with someone who argues that it is meant to be that there's possibility of the dream. But I absolutely, positively disagree with anyone who argues that this movie was never intended to be seen as anything other than reality; so what do you think, that Leone never thought it was intended to be a dream, but at some point after the movie was made but before the Rome premiere, he was alerted to the "possibility of a dream theory" and then jumped on that bandwagon? Come on.

 At least on some level of possibility/ambiguity, this movie involves dreams and fantasy. Additionally, STDWD details how Leone's meetings with Harry Grey were the basis for much of the 1968 Noodles character in the movie; how Grey had mixed reality with fantasy in his book, was living in this sort of dream/fantasy world where he subconsciously used elements from gangster movies in his book and couldn't distinguish fantasy from reality (and idea which further fascinated Leone since he too was a huge fan of gangster movies, and used lots of quotations to gangster movies in OUATIA). The "dream theory" makes perfect sense when you read about Leone's meetings with and observations on the elderly Harry Grey... When it comes to interpreting Leone's movies (and movies in general), there's lots of room for different views, whether or not I agree with them; that's the nature of cinema. But I have very little respect for the argument that the movie was never intended as even a possibility of a dream. Even before the final smile, which is what tells you "this is a dream," (instead of forwarding to the proverbial "and then I woke up" moment, Leone instead rewinds to the "here is where I went to sleep" moment!), there are a couple of hints: the pagoda across the street from Bailey's mansion, and the famous shot where the garbage can in 1968 turns into the cars from the 1930's.... which turns out to still be in 1968.

Aside from failing to explain away the proofs for the dream theory, some of the arguments against the dream theory are downright silly, such as "how could he have dreamed of color tv's?" Well, of course the movie is gonna depict 1968 as 1968 really looked; if you see an elderly Noodles in 1968, but with the whol world looking like 1933, it would be an instant giveaway that it's a dream, it would be just ridiculous! Of course you have to depict the 1968 of the dream as 1968 really looked (but you sprinkle in the hints, such as those I mentioned above). That "what about the color tv?" argument makes me laugh after initially rolling my eyes, it's that comically silly  ::) ;D

Frayling has a long quote from Leone in STDWD, in which Leone essentially says RE: the dream theory (paraphrasing),  "I say it here, and I deny it here." IMO it's just like the "question" of whether or not it was meant to be Bailey in the garbage truck. As James Woods said, "we know, but we don't know... but we know." Yeah, perhaps you can argue that it's made somewhat ambiguous, (ie. there's no direct "AND THEN I WOKE UP!" moment), but there's no doubt that the movie intends to imply at least the possibility that everything that happens from the moment Noodles inhales the opium, is a dream


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 16, 2012, 04:00:12 AM
One source which is not often quoted is an interview between Sergio Leone and Jean A Gili first published in Positif magazine no. 280 dated June 1984 and repeated in Jean A Gili's book Italian Filmmakers.

Jean A Gili: The stories of both Noodles and Max are parallel, their lives are both failures.

Sergio Leone: Once Upon a Time in America is indeed a very bitter film; it ends in a life's total failure.  The other character remains bound to the only possibility that he has, that of, until thirty, having lived a friendship that he doesn't want to cut himself off from.

I'm a European director and can only be fascinated with America by what I've read, studied.  Of course, through the film you find all my memories of Chandler, Hammett, Dos Passos, Fitzgerald, etc.  So, this adventure of Noodles, this dream, this search through time, and this disillusionment; his advance towards death, can only be, with the final scene – the flashback when Noodles goes into the opium den – a voyage induced by opium.  Opium projects you more towards the future than to the past.

The film thus makes a dual reading possible – here I say it, and here I deny it – and may represent what the character imagines under the effect of the drug: in 1933, with his act of informing, Noodles is morally and physically dead.


Jean A Gili: So the film, far from being realistic, might in fact be completely oneiric?

Sergio Leone:  Certainly.  That this dream be questionable in terms of reality, doesn't really matter to me.  For me, reality, too, is a dream.

Obviously, the implications in Once Upon a Time in America are of a much different nature than the slavish relating of one person's story or chronicle.


Jean A Gili: The editing of the film helps to read it on two levels.

Sergio Leone: This was done on purpose; so that the spectator would lose any specific reference points that would help him recognize what period he was in.  This was done very carefully.

 
(more on the term oneiric including a reference to OUATIA at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oneiric_%28film_theory%29 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oneiric_%28film_theory%29))

 


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: nat on July 16, 2012, 05:26:07 AM
I think it's very clear from this interview that the 'dream theory' is not only possible but probable.
It makes no sense to say that SL only thought of this AFTER the film was completed.
Question-in the final scene when Noodles lies down in the opium den and smiles-does anyone know when this occured exactly chronologically?


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: nat on July 16, 2012, 05:34:51 AM
Also if you read the fascinating thread with the interview of Noel Simsolo, SL responds to the question:

Isn't the film also the history of America linked to an opium dream?
The peculiarity of opium is a drug that makes you imagine the future as the past.  Opium creates visions of the future.  Other drugs only make you see the past.  Thus whilst Noodles dreams how his life could have been and whilst he imagines his future, it gives me, as a European director, the possibility of dreaming inside American myth.  And that's it, the ideal combination.  We walk together.  Noodles with his dream.  And me with mine.  These are two poems that fuse together.  Because, as far as the matters which concern me, Noodles never leaves 1930.  He dreams everything.  All the film is the opium dream of Noodles through which I dream of the phantoms of cinema and American myths.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 16, 2012, 07:44:38 AM
Question-in the final scene when Noodles lies down in the opium den and smiles-does anyone know when this occured exactly chronologically?

The movie ends in an opium den in 1933.  Chronologically this occurs before the beginning of the movie.

At the end of the film, Noodles enters the opium den wearing a 3 piece suit, shirt, tie, overcoat and a newspaper with the story of his dead friends. At the beginning of the film, when he is woken up, he is wearing the same clothes and has the same newspaper.

From Gili's 1984 interview with Sergio Leone, it seems clear that Leone wanted the movie to have oneiric elements and is deliberately edited to have a double meaning.

There's also the note written by Sergio Leone which was given 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...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."
 
 


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: nat on July 16, 2012, 07:17:51 PM
So when Noodles walks into the opium den in the final scene of the movie, he is coming from seeing the corpses of his 3 friend after they had been killed in the shootout?
I always thought the final scene and the first scene would be better linked if Noodles had a newspaper in the final scene, linking it to the first scene when he glances at the newspaper reporting the death of his friends. As a result of your post I looked at the final scene again, and you can see something white sticking out of his winter coat pocket-most likely the newspaper. But you really have to strain to see it. I would have thought it would have been better to give the newspaper a bit more prominence to link it to the beginning of the movie.
Also Noodles is wearing the same suit as he calls the police to give them the 'tip' about their final 'shipment' so that all fits in.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 16, 2012, 10:47:48 PM
Yes, as I understand it, Noodles walks into the opium den in the final scene, inhales the opium, and begins to dream, with the smile on his face. That is the end of reality. Everything that happens after that, starting with the beginning of the movie, is his dream: he dreams that the bad guys came to the hotel room and killed Eve, that they then came to the opium den looking for him, that he escapes New York but without the money, goes to bed early for 35 years and then returns to New York where he finds out that Max has been alive all along. This is all a dream, everything that happens after he first enters the opium den and inhales the drug.

One of the deleted scenes (I believe it was shot) has Noodles walking through Chinatown on that fateful final night of Prohibition, just before he walks into the opium den. Here is how it reads in the script:



AMBLING THROUGH CHINATOWN SCENE
CHINATOWN (1933) Exterior. Sunset.
It's no longer the night of Senator Bailey's party. It's the third of December, 1933, the night Prohibition went out for good. And the street is no longer a shady boulevard in a ritzy residential section, but Chinatown, where the young NOODLES ambles along through a crowd of frantic drunks.
He's unshaven, his eyes are rimmed with red. Under his arm he carries the newspaper that announces the deaths of his friends.
He looks destroyed.
People bump into him, offer him a drink. A game of ring-round-the- rosy catches him in the middle and blocks his way.
Moving like a robot, he tries to free himself from his captors, who take him for just another drunk, and laugh and mock him.
Once rid of them, he avoids a sailor and his girl who try to drag him along with them. He finds a door, opens it, and slips inside, leaving behind chaos, excitement, and delirious happiness.

 I believe this scene would have appeared just after the scene where Noodles is walking outside Bailey's home in 1968, and just before Noodles walks into the opium den.

If this scene had been used, it would have made the tie-in with the partying kids in the 30's cars in 1968 a bit more clear: the lights of the garbage truck would have turned into the lights of the cars from the 30's with the partying kids... but then we have the surreal scene where we turn back to Noodles and see he's still in 1968.... and then I guess those partying kids would have turned into the partying kids back in the 1930's scene. The fact that the scene didn't make the final cut doesn't in any way change the narrative, it just eliminates a visual link that would have brought the famous surreal scene all out a bit more clearly


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: nat on July 16, 2012, 10:58:28 PM
You would agree wouldn't you, that the chronology is independent of the dream theory? Even if after the opium den is not a dream, the chronology is as you described it.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 16, 2012, 11:59:45 PM
You would agree wouldn't you, that the chronology is independent of the dream theory? Even if after the opium den is not a dream, the chronology is as you described it.

Definitely.

In the final scene, we see Noodles enter the opium den, spoke the dope, and drift off to sleep.

In the opening scene, we see him being awoken from his sleep, and escaping from the den. So yes, regardless of the dream theory,  the opium den scenes that are shown in the beginning of the movie, actually happen after the opium den scene which ends the movie.




Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 17, 2012, 12:14:08 AM
according to the dream theory (and again, IMO there is ZERO chance that the movie was not intended to be an opium dream,  at least as a possibility), everything that happens after the moment where Noodles enters the opium den and smokes the dope, is a dream. (Including the gangsters killing Eve, Noodles's escape from the opium den, finding the suitcase empty, escaping New York, and coming back in 1968 and finding out about Bailey, etc.)

So my question is: what about all the stuff that happens before Noodles begins his dream (ie. all the scenes childhood scenes, and all the adult scenes until that fateful night, when Noodles enters the opium den)? Is that all A) Noodles's memories in his opium dreams, as he lay there in the opium den; or B)  is that all being told to us from an omniscient point of view?

If B), then we are being told about all the Past stuff from an omniscient perspective, in the same way most stories are being told to us in a movie. If A), then as Noodles lies there in the opium, he is dreaming both about the Past and about the Future, the dreams are mixing together (and the only part of the entire story which is being told to us from an omniscient point of view is the part of Noodles smoking opium and laying there with the smile -- that is happening right now, that's the "framing device," and as he lies there stoned, he is dreaming about the past and about the future)

Whether it's A or B, I am not sure that it would change the story; either way, I think we can rely on the Past stuff as being true; I am not trying to imply that the narrative about the Past stuff is unreliable. But the reason I am wondering about this is that if we are supposed to believe that the Future stuff is just happening in Noodles's dreams, then does it make sense that the dreams of the Future are being interspersed with an omniscient telling of the Past (ie. option B); or does it make more sense to say that if the scenes of the Future (aka "the flash-forwards") are actually going on in Noodles's dreams, which are a "framing device"; then what we see happening in the Past (aka "the flash-backs") is also the stuff that Noodles is remembering in his dreams: that in his dreams, he is remembering what has happened in the Past, interspersed with his fantasies about the Future?

(Also, remember that in the 3 previous Leone movies which used flash-backs, the scenes that are shown are all going on in the minds of the subjects:
in FAFDM, Indio is remembering his rape of the girl (and Mortimer is possibly sharing the final flash-back);
in OUATITW, the flash-backs are being remembered by Harmonica (and the final one, after Harmonica shoves the harmonica into Frank's mouth, is being shared by Frank);
and in DYS, the flash-backs are being remembered by Mallory (some have argued that the final flash-back did not really happen, it's not really a memory, but was merely a dying fantasy of Mallory's. Either way, the point is that...)

all flash-backs in prior Leone movies were actually showing us what was going on in the person's mind, a memory being remembered, and they are not just a narrative tool being used to show us an incident from the past from an omniscient perspective).

Therefore, while I still maintain that we need not say that the flash-backs in OUATIA are being dreamed by Noodles, I think it probably works best to say so, because  the flash-forwards are  being dreamed by Noodles; and also, this happens to be similar to Leone's previous use of flash-backs.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on July 17, 2012, 01:59:01 AM
The film doesn't look for one second like a dream.

The last shot is ambivalent enough to be interpreted in different ways. And having a film in which half of it is reality and half of it is a dream doesn't feel good for me.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 17, 2012, 03:03:01 AM
The film doesn't look for one second like a dream.

The last shot is ambivalent enough to be interpreted in different ways.

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(NOTE: throughout this entire discussion, whenever I refer to eg.  "the movie being a dream," or the "dream theory," etc., what I mean to say is, "at least as a possible interpretation." In other words, when I present my argument in favor of the dream theory, what I am saying is that  I believe that Leone's intent was either that the movie should be seen as a dream,  or that it should at least be seen a possible dream, which some people would refer to as "intentionally ambiguous" or a "double meaning". etc. etc.  etc.;  but the point is that I am in complete disagreement with those who argue that Leone never intended the movie to be seen as a dream in any way)  


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Well what do you do with all those statements from Leone about the movie being an opium dream? Do you disagree with Leone's interpretation of his own movie? Do you think that he never thought about the dream element until someone gave him the idea after the movie was completed? Come on. You can have whatever theories you want, but when a director clearly says that the movie is a dream (at least as a possible interpretation), then I don't think there's much to argue about. Once Leone made those statements, there are only 2 possibilities: 1) he is saying the truth, that the movie is intended to be a dream. or 2) that he is lying, and that he really never intended it to be a dream, but is encouraging us to interpret the movie that he basically dedicated his life to, in a false manner; that someone alerted him to the dream possibility after the movie was completed, and he decided to go with it, even though he never intended that.

I know Leone was known for telling tall tales, but this would be a new level of "tall"; more like a Colossus  ::)


I would be very interested to hear if one of you "dream theory opponents" (I was going to use the term dream theory "denier," but i wouldn't want anyone to confuse me with the global warming lobby  ;)) can explain away Leone's clear statements that it's a dream. And once you've done that, would you be so kind as to explain the following: i) the use of Noodles getting stoned on opium as a framing device; ii) Noodles's final smile; ii)  the purpose of the surreal scene with the 30's car in 1968; and iv) the pagoda across the street from Bailey's mansion?


(And please, I don't want to hear anything about color tv's in 1968. Please. I don't know whether to  ;D or  ::) when I hear that!)


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: noodles_leone on July 17, 2012, 04:40:03 AM
I think the main (and only) argument against the dream theory is: "Wow wait, so that was only a dream? It sucks. Nah, don't think about the dream theory now."

Which is a valid point.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 17, 2012, 04:58:34 AM
I wonder if television sets, outside broadcasts, modern cars, car rentals, speakers in the mausoleum, frisbees, Jimi Hendrix, CCTV and surveillance system in Bailey's mansion, the garbage truck scene, the pagoda and Noodles' smile etc were what Sergio Leone meant by deliberate and careful editing.  He obviously didn't want to make a slavish retelling of one person's story or a chronicle. He could have easily made a movie based on full reality if he had wanted to and likewise he could have easily made a movie with identifiable dream sequences if he had wanted to.

He chose neither of these options instead preferring some ambiguity.  Some may guess that they know the truth about the author of the book on which the movie is based but none of us know for certain just how much Harry Grey was a spectator and how much a participant.

Other points: There were several other writers some of whom may not have been in favor of the dream element. It's said that Robert de Niro had heated discussions with Sergio Leone about unrealistic parts. Sometimes Sergio Leone accepted the views of others and changed things.  The movie was in gestation for about 15 years during which time Sergio Leone conceived some very complicated ideas. Directors often formulate grand ideas which are not fully appreciated by viewers. At the end it's down to individual viewers how they interpret the movie and what the important elements in it are.


A director is often not a good interpreter of his own work. He can be very good at explaining the "why" and "how" of a film (intentions and techniques), but explaining the "what" of a film is another proposition altogether. His interpretation is just one of many, and may be skewed simply because in his mind he cannot divorce his original intentions from the final results. He can speak with authority about what he wanted the film to say, but not necessarily what it actually does say. If this were not the case, film criticism would be entirely superfluous.

In this particular case I keep asking the question, Does the Dream Theory make OUATIA a better film or not? Is the film made more interesting through the adoption of this theory, or are we better off without it? The answers are obvious. The Dream Theory confers nothing of value on the film. In fact, dream theories abound for a number of stories/films, so that such an approach actually robs the film of much that makes it a unique. Generally speaking, such "explanations" are reductive anyway, making films less complex than they would be otherwise. What's the point of having a 4-hour film if at the end a neat little "explanation" is going to render it as insignificant as a 30-minute Twilight Zone episode?

 


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 17, 2012, 05:25:45 AM
if you read Frayking's chapter on OUATIA, it's clear that Leone's meetings with Grey -- a man who was living in a fantasy world -- heavily influenced the movie. Not that Grey had any influence on the movie; he actually died before shooting began. But observing Grey -- a man who was trying to make sense of his past and basically living in a fantasy world -- helped Leone decided on how to make the movie. It was after meeting Grey that he decided to make the film about an elderly gangster returning to his neighborhood (the entire 1968 section is a Leone creation; the book ends with Noodles escaping New York after his  betrayal of the gang). Yes, the fantasy world that Grey was living in, which Leone figured from reading the book (much of which was copied from gangster movies) and from meeting Grey, is what gave Leone the ideas. It is so clear that this idea of fantasy was on Leone's mind all along.


As for dj's statement that a director isn't the best interpreter of his work, well, what can I say. (There's a guy who called me crazy for stating an opinion on Psycho that was consistent with the views expressed by those involved in the making of the movie, but not with a couple of critics that he likes!) If Leone's interpretation of the movie is incorrect, well then, I guess you can believe whatever you wanna believe. If Leone intended the movie to be a dream, then THE MOVIE IS A DREAM! Sure, you can argue whether or not it was smart to make the movie as a dream, you can believe that it would work better of it wasn't a dream; anyone has a right to believe that a movie was done well or done poorly, or if something would have been better if it had been done differently. But to argue factually with the intent of the movie -- Leone says it was a dream, but a viewer says he doesn't wanna believe him -- what can I say, that's simply ludicrous.

Maybe in the studio system days -- where a director gets done directing a movie on Thursday and is on to the next one on Monday, where he was just one piece of the puzzle in making a movie, when you had the head of production at the studio who installed all the pieces in, and the director was just one piece along with many other pieces, including actors and writers and producers etc. all under contract with the studio -- maybe there you could argue that a movie doesn't necessarily completely reflect the view of the director. (eg. as we have seen, Daryl Zanuk made significant changes to John Ford's version of My Darling Clementine before it was released. So you can definitely argue that when watching the theatrical version of MDC, you are not watching a movie that fully represents John Ford's vision). But in the case of OUATIA -- where Leone had been working on it, in one form or another, for a decade and a half, it was his life's work, he was involved in the project from beginning to end, it was clearly LEONE's project, there was no studio head or producer that had veto power over Leone, everything was Leone's, Leone oversaw it all (even had a screenwriting credit, as usual) and according to one of the interviews translated here, sent a specific note to the screenwriters emphasizing the importance of the fantasy element -- if you are going to argue that we need not accept that a major element of the movie is about what Leone intended it to be about, well, what can I tell you: I think you are living in a fantasy world. Yeah, on a certain level you can just say "art is whatever you want it to be." I mean, if you wanna look at the Mona Lisa and argue that somehow it's not a woman but a train, well, nobody's stopping you. If it makes you happy to think it's a train, then go ahead. But da Vinci intended to draw a woman and no amount of wanting to believe that it's a train will change the fact that it is a woman, or the fact that everything that happens from the moment Noodles gets stoned is fantasy.



Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 17, 2012, 06:14:03 AM
...Leone wanted the movie to have oneiric elements and is deliberately edited to have a double meaning...

I thought this was self-explanatory but apparently it's not.

 


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: moviesceleton on July 17, 2012, 10:16:03 AM
To me it doesn't really matter if half of the movie is a dream. Even though the discussion is interesting, I find it ultimately irrelevant. I guess I could try and babble something fake-poetic about it (cinema is always a dream blah blah blah OUATIA is a film about cinema i.e. dreams blah blah blah) but I refuse to embarrass myself and will only say that I don't find the debate relevant.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: BGMurphy2012 on July 17, 2012, 11:06:56 AM
What I find most interesting about questions relating to whether it was all a dream are the various accounts of what Leone said at various times on the topic.  I have seen no account where he just says "I decided to add to the book a dream sequence of what happened after Noodles left the City" or something like that.  Rather, most quotes of his seemed to be more of the "maybe, maybe not" variety.

It is amazing to me that Leone decided to add the 1968 piece to the movie, dream or not.  That is a brilliant storyteller, for sure.  It makes the movie so much better.  I wonder if Grey/Goldberg ever though of writing a sequel, as the end of The Hoods seems to invite.

There are so many aspects of this film that are extraordinary (we all appear to know them), that I kind of like that on top of it all, we don't really, really, know why Noodles is smiling at the end of the film (probably a good topic all of its own).

Btw, I am still searching for a copy of the short version (The Ladd Company did not respond to my inquiry) and can't wait to see the extended version.  I suspect that my fascination with this film will cover just as long a period of time as Leone's.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Groggy on July 17, 2012, 12:46:28 PM
Quote
Leone's interpretation of the movie is incorrect, well then, I guess you can believe whatever you wanna believe. If Leone intended the movie to be a dream, then THE MOVIE IS A DREAM!

See, I took three years of film classes where they hammer the auteur theory into your brain with an ice mallet. And even I don't buy that argument.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on July 17, 2012, 01:03:40 PM



As for dj's statement that a director isn't the best interpreter of his work, well, what can I say. (There's a guy who called me crazy for stating an opinion on Psycho that was consistent with the views expressed by those involved in the making of the movie, but not with a couple of critics that he likes!) If Leone's interpretation of the movie is incorrect, well then, I guess you can believe whatever you wanna believe. If Leone intended the movie to be a dream, then THE MOVIE IS A DREAM! Sure, you can argue whether or not it was smart to make the movie as a dream, you can believe that it would work better of it wasn't a dream; anyone has a right to believe that a movie was done well or done poorly, or if something would have been better if it had been done differently. But to argue factually with the intent of the movie -- Leone says it was a dream, but a viewer says he doesn't wanna believe him -- what can I say, that's simply ludicrous.


Drink I'm sure you won't understand this, but if a film is finished and shown to an audience everybody's opinion about this film is as good as the director's (or whoever is mainly responsible for a certain movie).
Of course I would care more for the director's interpretation than for the one of my dumb neighbour, but if I have a reasonable view of a film it is as much worth as from the one who made it.



Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 17, 2012, 01:27:17 PM
.  I wonder if Grey/Goldberg ever though of writing a sequel, as the end of The Hoods seems to invite.
Call me duke is a sort of sequel. Even more fictional than The Hoods.

Portrait of a mobster is better.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: BGMurphy2012 on July 17, 2012, 01:35:18 PM
Chris-

I have not read Call Me Duke.  Does it have any of the same characters? 

It does not seem to be available at any reasonable cost.


BGM


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 17, 2012, 01:52:34 PM
Typed on my iPad whilst I'm away from home.

Call Me Duke has some of the same characters. The main character is a wannabee p.i. with a big nose who women find attractive.

The missing chests are found and I think Noodles who only has a minor part may have been killed.
 


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Groggy on July 17, 2012, 03:25:37 PM
Drink I'm sure you won't understand this, but if a film is finished and shown to an audience everybody's opinion about this film is as good as the director's (or whoever is mainly responsible for a certain movie).
Of course I would care more for the director's interpretation than for the one of my dumb neighbour, but if I have a reasonable view of a film it is as much worth as from the one who made it.

Hear hear.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 17, 2012, 07:12:48 PM
well if you wanna basically say that art means whatever the hell you want it to mean, then I guess that's that. No point in having any of these discussions, no point in trying to find out what was really intended by the director, if the director's intent doesn't mean more than whatever you want it to mean.

So the question, which IMO is very important, of whether Leone intended the movie to be a dream is settled (in fact it was never really a question at all). The only question up for discussion is "does Individual Viewer X want to interpret it as a dream?," a question which frankly doesn't interest me at all.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Groggy on July 17, 2012, 07:43:30 PM
This discussion forces me to take a broader critical/philosophical track there. Comments below need not apply specifically to OUATIA.

well if you wanna basically say that art means whatever the hell you want it to mean, then I guess that's that. No point in having any of these discussions, no point in trying to find out what was really intended by the director, if the director's intent doesn't mean more than whatever you want it to mean.

There is no point to any discussion if you limit it to one interpretation alone. Art is interpretative - especially OUATIA, which (whatever Leone's comments) is deliberately vague and open-ended.

I certainly don't think the director is the sole authority over a movie. First of all, more generally, a director is quite often not the driving force behind a movie. If we're going to talk "artistic integrity" or intention than why exclude the producer/writer/star from consideration? Why is their vision not central to a movie's creation? Secondly,  this does not preclude a director failing to convey a message or the existence of alternate interpretations. Rote slavish auteurism is the last refuge of the Jacques Rivettes.
 
Quote
The only question up for discussion is "does Individual Viewer X want to interpret it as a dream?," a question which frankly doesn't interest me at all.

Then why discuss any movie? Just look up a director's thoughts on their own movie, post them and have done with it. End thread, indeed end board.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 17, 2012, 08:03:39 PM
Yes, if the question is "is the movie a dream," I think the fact that a director clearly intends it to be a dream settles it.

I don't disagree that the director is not the only one that matters. As I said in my earlier post, there were times with the studio system where the director was just one piece of the puzzle, and the movie had many other imprints; eg. the theatrical version of My Darling Clementine is very different from John Ford's version. No doubt.

But I specifically said with OUATIA that it is clear that this was Leone's Project.  Of course, if you find evidence that the writers or actors or whatever did not think it was a dream, then yeah,  I think there is room for debate. But with OUATIA, which Leone was clearly the driving force behind, intimately involved in every aspect of it, it was HIS movie, and he even sent a note to those working on the movie clearly outlining his intentions with the fantasy elements of the movie, so I'd say that in this case, absent clear evidence that others working on the movie oppose the dream theory, I'd say the dream theory is the only legitimate interpretation.

These statements only apply to a movie like OUATIA, with Leone as the dominating force. But in instances where, such as with My Darling Clementine, there is very large input from a studio, and in some cases was edited by a studio film editor with no input from the director, I certainly wouldn't say that the movie should have the strict interpretation of the director.

Leone is the one who directed the scenes, the one who told De Niro to smile at the end, the one who put that scene at the end of the movie, the one who had that surreal scene with the 30's car in 1968, etc. Yeah, absent significant evidence to the contrary, I'd say Leone's view should rule.


However, I can't expect you to accept my opinion about whether Leone's views should be dispositive, but I can expect dream-theory-opponents to explain your positions or answered the problems with your theory that I posed.  So let's for a moment forget Leone's statements about the dream. Let me just ask you to please explain: the visit to the opium den as a framing device, that final smile at the end of the movie, the surreal scene with Noodles in 1968 watching the partygoers in the 1930's cars, and the pagoda across from the Bailey mansion?


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on July 18, 2012, 02:04:06 AM
Yes, if the question is "is the movie a dream," I think the fact that a director clearly intends it to be a dream settles it.

I don't disagree that the director is not the only one that matters. As I said in my earlier post, there were times with the studio system where the director was just one piece of the puzzle, and the movie had many other imprints; eg. the theatrical version of My Darling Clementine is very different from John Ford's version. No doubt.

But I specifically said with OUATIA that it is clear that this was Leone's Project.  Of course, if you find evidence that the writers or actors or whatever did not think it was a dream, then yeah,  I think there is room for debate. But with OUATIA, which Leone was clearly the driving force behind, intimately involved in every aspect of it, it was HIS movie, and he even sent a note to those working on the movie clearly outlining his intentions with the fantasy elements of the movie, so I'd say that in this case, absent clear evidence that others working on the movie oppose the dream theory, I'd say the dream theory is the only legitimate interpretation.

These statements only apply to a movie like OUATIA, with Leone as the dominating force. But in instances where, such as with My Darling Clementine, there is very large input from a studio, and in some cases was edited by a studio film editor with no input from the director, I certainly wouldn't say that the movie should have the strict interpretation of the director.

Leone is the one who directed the scenes, the one who told De Niro to smile at the end, the one who put that scene at the end of the movie, the one who had that surreal scene with the 30's car in 1968, etc. Yeah, absent significant evidence to the contrary, I'd say Leone's view should rule.


As I assumed Drink, you don't understand it.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 18, 2012, 02:51:03 AM
I don't think it's that clear cut and unambiguous, drinkanddestory.  As I understand it, you're accepting that the director wanted to have hallucinatory and dream elements in the movie but refusing to accept his statement that it was edited carefully and on purpose so that it would have a double meaning.

The white jaguar in the procession during the garbage truck scene looks the same as the white jaguar at Bailey's mansion.  The kids could be just dressed up formally and have hired classic cars for an evening out.  The beer bottles thrown out of the cars don't look like beer bottles from 1933.  The pagoda is just a tentative link in anticipation of the following scene.  After the procession of cars goes by Noodles looks down.  The cars and the pagoda could have triggered a memory.  Noodles could just be remembering an important time in his life when he betrayed his friends, went to an opium den to seek solace and is similar to the ending of the book when Noodles stretched out on his back, all his aches and tiredness flowed out of him and he felt safe and at peace.



Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 18, 2012, 03:15:07 AM
I don't think it's that clear cut and unambiguous, drinkanddestory.  As I understand it, you're accepting that the director wanted to have hallucinatory and dream elements in the movie but refusing to accept his statement that it was edited carefully and on purpose so that it would have a double meaning.



woah, I have said very clearly all along that whenever I speak about the "dream theory," I am accepting either the notion that it is clearly meant to be a dream, or the notion that it is meant as a possible dream, as a double meaning; I am only rejecting the notion that it is absolutely meant to be literal with no possibility of a dream interpretation


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 18, 2012, 03:24:23 AM

The white jaguar in the procession during the garbage truck scene looks the same as the white jaguar at Bailey's mansion.  The kids could be just dressed up formally and have hired classic cars for an evening out.  The beer bottles thrown out of the cars don't look like beer bottles from 1933.  The pagoda is just a tentative link in anticipation of the following scene.  After the procession of cars goes by Noodles looks down.  The cars and the pagoda could have triggered a memory.  Noodles could just be remembering an important time in his life when he betrayed his friends, went to an opium den to seek solace and is similar to the ending of the book when Noodles stretched out on his back, all his aches and tiredness flowed out of him and he felt safe and at peace.



so there happened to be a pagoda on Long Island, and that triggered Noodles's memory of the time when he smoked opium the night after betraying his friends? So the movie ends with Noodles remembering that night in the opium den -- a memory triggered by the pagoda, which just so happened to be there on Long Island? That's not very satisfying. (The ending in the book means nothing; the book has no 1968 section at all; it ends when Noodles is able to escape New York after ratting out his friends; finally, when he escaped successfully, he was able to find some momentary peace for the first time in a long time. That has nothing to do with this moment in the opium den, which occurs while he is still in New York. The Hoods s used strictly for some events and narrative, and I wouldn't use it as any sort of resolution to any important plot questions).

As I said previously, I guess that the surreal aspect of the scene with the 30's cars in 1968 would have been emphasized if they;d included that deleted scene in which you see Noodles walking through the partiers in Chinatown on his way to the opium den. Perhaps it would have cut from that car directly to the partiers in Chinatown, or from Noodles's face directly to his face on that night. Who knows. Lots of shit had to be cut to get the movie down to 229 minutes; but this doesn't seem to be one of the scenes that has been restored (yet?). Either way, I think including that brief scene may have further emphasized this point, but not changed anything. It's a fantasy, all along.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 18, 2012, 03:32:35 AM
To me it doesn't really matter if half of the movie is a dream. Even though the discussion is interesting, I find it ultimately irrelevant. I guess I could try and babble something fake-poetic about it (cinema is always a dream blah blah blah OUATIA is a film about cinema i.e. dreams blah blah blah) but I refuse to embarrass myself and will only say that I don't find the debate relevant.

well I guess that Sergio Leone and Claudia Cardinale loved to "embarrass themselves," and  "babble something fake-poetic," cuz they are just two of the people that have said basically those same words you are using. Yes, it's true. That's the point. And that was Leone's point. He made it as clear as he possibly could. I knew that, without a doubt, from Frayling's chapter on OUATIA; and reading these translated interviews with Leone that were recently posted on this thread only emphasizes it all, again and again.

You don't seem to mind embarrassing yourself in other instances, but stating the truth about Leone's intent with OUATIA wouldn't be an example of that.  Unless you somehow consider the truth to be embarrassing. All I'm trying to do is understand and discuss the truth about Leone's intentions with OUATIA. Which is sort of the things we do on these boards.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Groggy on July 18, 2012, 04:37:55 AM
I conceded above that not all of my general arguments apply specifically OUATIA.

woah, I have said very clearly all along that whenever I speak about the "dream theory," I am accepting either the notion that it is clearly meant to be a dream, or the notion that it is meant as a possible dream, as a double meaning; I am only rejecting the notion that it is absolutely meant to be literal with no possibility of a dream interpretation

Who here said there is "absolutely no possibility of a dream interpretation"? Straw man much?

Quote
Leone is the one who directed the scenes, the one who told De Niro to smile at the end, the one who put that scene at the end of the movie, the one who had that surreal scene with the 30's car in 1968, etc. Yeah, absent significant evidence to the contrary, I'd say Leone's view should rule.

As Chris said, Leone made it deliberately ambiguous. If he wanted to make things overtly point to one answer he would have presented the '68 scenes in a fashion to preclude a straight reading. Does Noodles have flashbacks within a dream? I guess it's possible but the fluidity of it suggests cinema not opium.

What does the framing device prove? It could be the basis for a dream. It could also be seen as a turning point in Noodles' life - his friends were just killed, presumably through his treachery, and he'd spend the rest of his life on the lam. Hence its centrality to the story.

The main point I'd say in favor of the Dream Theory is the sparseness of the '68 settings, with relatively few period details filled in. Even there though, a lot of things would raise eyebrows emanating from a 1930s man's imagination, opium or no. Television plays a major role in the '68 scenes - was Noodles psychic? Would he know Yesterday? If we take some scenes on a literal level (eg. the '30s car in '68) rather than cinematic why not others?

I guess we could take your approach, that a director's word is God, but that would turn this board to a recitation of facts, not a discussion. Where's the fun in that? That is a very reductive view of film discussion.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 18, 2012, 06:28:16 AM
I conceded above that not all of my general arguments apply specifically OUATIA.

Who here said there is "absolutely no possibility of a dream interpretation"? Straw man much?

As Chris said, Leone made it deliberately ambiguous. If he wanted to make things overtly point to one answer he would have presented the '68 scenes in a fashion to preclude a straight reading. Does Noodles have flashbacks within a dream? I guess it's possible but the fluidity of it suggests cinema not opium.

What does the framing device prove? It could be the basis for a dream. It could also be seen as a turning point in Noodles' life - his friends were just killed, presumably through his treachery, and he'd spend the rest of his life on the lam. Hence its centrality to the story.

The main point I'd say in favor of the Dream Theory is the sparseness of the '68 settings, with relatively few period details filled in. Even there though, a lot of things would raise eyebrows emanating from a 1930s man's imagination, opium or no. Television plays a major role in the '68 scenes - was Noodles psychic? Would he know Yesterday? If we take some scenes on a literal level (eg. the '30s car in '68) rather than cinematic why not others?

I guess we could take your approach, that a director's word is God, but that would turn this board to a recitation of facts, not a discussion. Where's the fun in that? That is a very reductive view of film discussion.

I'm sorry to deny you your beloved "straw man much?" but there's no straw man here. Chris said accused me of being willing to accept Leone's statement that it's a dream, but not willing to accept Leone's statement that there is a double meaning, a possibility of a dream. And my response was that I have clearly said all along that I am willing to accept the notion that there's a double meaning, or that the dream is intended as merely a possibility. The only position I am arguing against is those who say that the movie is not intended to have any element of fantasy. You may not be arguing in favor of that position, but if you read through these dream theory threads, there are those who do.

The song "Yesterday" is not diegetic. It is playing OVER the scene, as part of the film score; it's not playing IN the scene. So the question of how it could be playing in a 1968 scene is about as legitimate as the question of how music composed by Ennio Morricone in the 1960's could be playing in GBU, which takes place in the 1860's.

yes, a tv plays over the bar in Fat Moe's, and Bailey has closed-circuit tv's (although I wouldn't call tv "playing a major role in the '68 scenes) but on some level, there has to be dramatic license to show us 1968. If everything in 1968 looked exactly as it did in the 30's, then we would know instantly that it's all a dream, and the '68 section of the movie would be rather silly. So the movie appropriately takes some sort of license in showing us 1968 as it would look, but still drops some clues along the way, letting us know that it's a dream. Yeah, you can ask, well, how far does the "dramatic license" go? Well, I don't think you can really expect that even in a dream, 1968 would look like 1933. That would be silly.

As for your final paragraph, you seem not to have read my previous posts. You seem to be repeating your earlier comments about my views on the director's view, without reading my responses to your comments. As I said, a director is not God. However, when the director who is involved heavily in a project throughout, clearly states that the later scenes of the movie are intended to be portrayed as a possibility of  a dream, then I think we have to accept it, unless some other people who were involved in then project disagree. I mean, if you find some opposing quotes by some writers or a producer or someone like that who says that this project was not intended as a dream, well that would be fine. But as it is now, you have Leone saying it is a dream and so far as i've seen, nobody who was involved with the project saying anything to the contrary. So yes, I think we should accept that the movie means what Leone says it means. I think there is much to discuss about OUATIA even if it were accepted as a given that it's a dream. We have pages and pages of discussion about other topics. Just like we have pages and pages of discussion about many other movies that don't involve a major disagreement about a basic element of the story. I'm sorry if you think there is no fun in those discussions.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 18, 2012, 06:33:13 AM
It seems to me that we're essentially not arguing, but just going in circles about subjects we don't give a damn about.

In a nutshell: We agree that Leone intended it as a possibility of a dream (unless you believe he didn't agree with his own numerous statements to that effect, in which case I can't help you). We also agree that some people don't care about what Leone intended.

So, I am interested in what Leone intended, and you don't care much about that.

And you are interested in your own interpretation which is contradictory to Leone's, and I don't care much about that.

Well, it seems like we essentially agree in principle, but have no interest in the stuff we disagree about.

So that's that.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Groggy on July 18, 2012, 07:01:13 AM
Quote
So, I am interested in what Leone intended, and you don't care much about that.

Um, that's not what I or anyone else said at all. My argument is that Leone's intentions in presenting the film do not preclude alternate readings. Nor, as you seem to suggest, are said alternate analyses inherently inferior to authorial intent. The Dream Theory is a valid approach to the movie, but it's not the only one.

Again, if you're going to approach art as something objective, that can be proven with facts, then you're going about it completely the wrong way. But then you are studying law, so…


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: moviesceleton on July 18, 2012, 09:37:29 AM
well I guess that Sergio Leone and Claudia Cardinale loved to "embarrass themselves," and  "babble something fake-poetic," cuz they are just two of the people that have said basically those same words you are using. Yes, it's true. That's the point. And that was Leone's point. He made it as clear as he possibly could. I knew that, without a doubt, from Frayling's chapter on OUATIA; and reading these translated interviews with Leone that were recently posted on this thread only emphasizes it all, again and again.

You don't seem to mind embarrassing yourself in other instances, but stating the truth about Leone's intent with OUATIA wouldn't be an example of that.  Unless you somehow consider the truth to be embarrassing. All I'm trying to do is understand and discuss the truth about Leone's intentions with OUATIA. Which is sort of the things we do on these boards.
What I meant, was: I think the complex relationship of dream and reality in the movie is a subject that can't be satisfyingly addressed with words. I do believe that "cinema is always a dream and OUATIA is a film about cinema i.e. dreams" but that's about everything I can say about it - and I don't think that fully explains the dream vs. reality issue, so the truth of it (the truth of the film, not the truth about it's director's intentions) is beyond words, at least beyond my words.

The intentions of a director are interesting to discuss (and yes, sometimes my knowledge of them changes my interpretation of a film, I want it or not) but ultimately they don't change what the movie actually is. A film is not a film before it's seen by the audience, it doesn't mean anything before the audience has give meaning to the images on the screen - and I'm quite sure that's something that Leone would agree on.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 19, 2012, 05:16:04 AM
woah, I have said very clearly all along that whenever I speak about the "dream theory," I am accepting either the notion that it is clearly meant to be a dream, or the notion that it is meant as a possible dream, as a double meaning; I am only rejecting the notion that it is absolutely meant to be literal with no possibility of a dream interpretation

If you accept Sergio Leone's statement that the movie was edited intentionally and carefully to provide a double reading, it follows that the views of those who believe that it is all reality are equally as important, valid and correct as those who believe that part of the movie may be a dream.

A question for the dream believers.  When you first watched the movie, did you think that part of it was a dream?  Or did you find out about the dream theory subsequently, consider that it explained some of the puzzling and unrealistic events and then choose that option?

The shooting script contains lots of additional information apart from the dialogue but there's nothing in there to suggest that part of the movie is intended as a dream.  In Oreste de Fornari's book, Sergio Leone's comment that "it is probably the first time ever that a film ends with a flashback" fits better with the reality theory.  In the same book Sergio Leone gives further details on how originally he had intended the movie to be more of a myth and fable, but with Robert De Niro playing the part of Noodles, he was able to go for a more realistic feel.
"When the producer told me he had finally managed to sign De Niro, it was as if they had told Collodi 'use a real person for Pinocchio'. It was supposed to be more of a mythic film, more a fable, but De Niro's extreme sincerity introduced a more realistic note."



Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on July 19, 2012, 05:40:21 AM
If you accept Sergio Leone's statement that the movie was edited intentionally and carefully to provide a double reading, it follows that the views of those who believe that it is all reality are equally as important, valid and correct as those who believe that part of the movie may be a dream.

A question for the dream believers.  When you first watched the movie, did you think that part of it was a dream?  Or did you find out about the dream theory subsequently, consider that it explained some of the puzzling and unrealistic events and then choose that option?

The shooting script contains lots of additional information apart from the dialogue but there's nothing in there to suggest that part of the movie is intended as a dream.  In Oreste de Fornari's book, Sergio Leone's comment that "it is probably the first time ever that a film ends with a flashback" fits better with the reality theory.  In the same book Sergio Leone gives further details on how originally he had intended the movie to be more of a myth and fable, but with Robert De Niro playing the part of Noodles, he was able to go for a more realistic feel.


That's the point. I actually never had the slightest feeling that it could be only a dream. And actually nothing in it looks like a dream. Even if I ignore the simple logical argument that Noodles can't imagine in 1933 a future which looks similar to how 1968 actually looked.
The style of the 68 scenes differs not from the 33 scenes or the childhood parts.

I'm quite surprised how much Leone seems to have favoured such a dream theory, but there's nothing in the film to support it. Not even the last shot, which has a different meaning for me.

And btw OUTA is of course not the first film which ends with a flashback.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Groggy on July 19, 2012, 06:44:03 AM
Good points. A valid question too: if it weren't for the last scene, would anyone think of the movie as a dream? What else about the movie is "dreamlike"?


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Groggy on July 19, 2012, 06:52:38 AM
The only strong textual elements supporting this theory are the scene with the car (already mentioned) and the very end. Neither of which, to my way of thinking, preclude ordinary stylization. I've even heard Deborah still looking young produced as evidence, too. Can't that be put down to a bad makeup job?

The read of the car scene is simple. Some kids dressed up for a party and it reminded Noodles of the '30s. Not as interesting as a dream but more logical. If we're going to claim Yesterday is non-diegetic why assume God Bless America is? Noodles wasn't there when Eve was killed so what significance did the song have to anyone but the audience?

I've already stated my view on the ending and I'll stand by it.

Textually, the evidence for a dream is rather sparse. Certainly they're ambiguous enough to preclude a "definite" reading either way. Leone's comments are hardly irrelevant, but we have to judge the film based on what the product is, not what Leone's intentions were.

EDIT: I forgot Deborah's son being played by the same actor as Young Max. IMO that's just as worthless an argument as Deborah's makeup. Is Life and Death of Colonel Blimp a dream because Deborah Kerr plays three different characters, all the protagonist's dream girl? Or is it a way to signal to the audience (and in this case Noodles as well) what's going on without reams of exposition?


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 19, 2012, 09:48:11 AM
God Bless America is playing on the radio as Eve walks into the hotel room. In the scene with the car, it is non-diegetic. (But once we realize it is all a dream, it's possible that Noodles was dreaming of that song all along, the dream has come full circle).

There's another point you need to explain, Groggy: the significance of the pagoda on Long Island. If Noodles's opium smoking is just one element of the movie, but not the source of the dream that is the movie, then why should there be any hint in 1968 to the fact that Noodles smoked opium in the 30's? And finally, whatever alternative reasons for the smile you wanna give, and I've seen your responses to that in another thread, that doesn't really explain why the movie ends on that smile. And that's the key. Yeah, you can say he's smiling cuz he's doped out and is finally free of the burden of his betrayal, etc., but why end the movie on that smile? With the dream theory, there is real significance to it: the smile is actually the last thing that really occurs; everything afterward is a dream, beginning with the opening scene of the gangsters killing Eve and then coming after Noodles. The other explanations for the smile do not justify its placement at the end of the movie, and holding it in freeze-frame over the final credits. Something very, very important has to be happening during that smile.

RE: your question of whether there is anything to indicate that it's a dream besides for the final smile, whether there is anything else that is dream-like: Well, I do think that any time a movie plays a trick on us, it has to drop hints so that the viewer can't say, "wait a minute, you pulled a fast one on us." And OUATIA drops other hints to the dream, which we've discussed: the surreal car scene and the pagoda on Long Island. Setting aside the normative argument about whether or not it's a dream, I think you can say for certain that assuming it's a dream, the references were there. It's not simply an unjustified  "And Then I Woke Up" moment.


Back to the issue of director's intent: If da Vinci said something about the Mona Lisa being a picture of a pizza pie and not a woman, then no, I wouldn't say that it's a pizza pie. I'd say da Vinci was full of shit. The Mona Lisa is unambiguously, undoubtedly a woman. However, if the meaning behind a movie is ambiguous and could be interpreted in various ways, and then the director explains how he intended it (which works perfectly as one of the options), then yeah, I think that should be accepted, barring any argument to the contrary from someone else who worked on the movie. So I agree that if there was nothing in the movie to justify it being a dream, then that's that. But when you consider that A) the meaning is ambiguous; B) the dream is a very possible interpretation; and C) the director explains that he intended it to be read as a possible dream; then yeah, absent any contrary statement by a writer or producer or someone else who worked on the movie, I think we should accept the director's statement.

-------------

p.s. I was never all that concerned with the issue of Deborah looking young in 1968 (heck, some very beautiful women don't look like they age; I have a 45 year-old aunt who has 11 children and she is still skinnier, younger-looking, (and cuter!) than some of her teenaged daughters; I think of her like  like my baby sister!) But once you mention it: as Leone said, Deborah looks so young in 1968 is cuz we are seeing er through Noodles eyes; in his eyes, she has not aged. You can choose to accept or reject that interpretation, but please, with respect, the  "bad makeup job"  comment sounds silly, like you're grasping at straws. Come on, man. You can do better than that. I am not saying that makeup artists can't screw up a job; they could screw up in a Leone movie just as they could in any other movie. But the makeup artists did such an amazing job with Noodles, Max, Carol, and Fat Moe (whether or not you think they look convincing as old people, there is no doubt whatsoever that these people are meant to look as if they've aged; and I think the makeup job is one of the most amazing in the history of cinema; heck, I've never noticed makeup in a movie before this! ); so to explain away a potential problem with your theory by saying, well maybe Deborah looks young cuz it's a bad makeup job, even when Leone clearly explained that her character was specifically supposed to look young, is simply grasping at straws.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Groggy on July 19, 2012, 10:04:23 AM
Quote
God Bless America is playing on the radio as Eve walks into the hotel room. In the scene with the car, it is non-diegetic.

How do you know?

Quote
(But once we realize it is all a dream, it's possible that Noodles was dreaming of that song all along, the dream has come full circle).

Yeah, if we advance from an assumption we can prove anything we want.

Quote
There's another point you need to explain, Groggy: the significance of the pagoda on Long Island.

I don't even know what pagoda you're talking about.

Quote
If Noodles's opium smoking is just one element of the movie, but not the source of the dream that is the movie, then why should there be any hint in 1968 to the face that Noodles smoked opium in the 30's?

What are you trying to say? Rephrase the question.

Quote
And finally, whatever alternative reasons for the smile you wanna give, and I've seen your responses to that in another thread, that doesn't really explain why the movie ends on that smile.

Because it was his last moment of happiness before a lifetime of misery.  

Quote
With the dream theory, there is real significance to it: the smile is actually the last thing that really occurs… Something very, very important has to be happening during that smile.

This assumes that the above explanation does not mean anything "very important." His dreams at a happy life are crushed, he will have to spend the rest of his life as a hunted man. This is the last chance he has at any satisfaction, however fleeting or drug induced

Quote
However, if the meaning behind a movie is ambiguous and could be interpreted in various ways, and then the director explains how he intended it (which works perfectly as one of the options), then yeah, I think that should be accepted, barring any argument to the contrary from someone else who worked on the movie.

You again miss the point. Leone intended for there to be ambiguity regarding this. If he'd wanted it to be explicitly a dream he would have closed off other possible readings. He did not, so other interpretations are possible. He intended for other interpretations to be possible. Why is this hard to grasp? Fact-based approach to film analysis is a fallacy.

Quote
You can choose to accept or reject that interpretation, but please, with respect, the  "bad makeup job"  comment sounds silly, like you're grasping at straws.

The idea is Deborah will appear ageless while made up as Cleopatra and then reveals herself as middle aged when she rubs it off. This unfortunately does not work in practice as even her "old age" makeup is poor.

More generally, yes, I think the Dream Theory turns the movie into a pointless charade. At a straight level, Noodles has spent 35 years trying to escape his past, only to be confronted with it in a most shocking manner. It's a story with pathos and real depth of feeling, elegantly presented. Making the audience sit through a four hour movie only to say it's a dream is a contemptible cop-out worthy of a bad soap opera.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: cigar joe on July 19, 2012, 02:33:52 PM
When I first watched it the appearance of Debora without age and the appearance of the look a like son of Max had me questioning reality a bit.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 20, 2012, 05:00:19 AM
Well, drinkanddestroy, despite all your voluminous posts, you've still not answered the question "When you first watched the movie, did you think that part of it was a dream?"

I don't mind admitting that none of the scenes led me on my first viewing to consider that they were part of some elaborate dream. I put some of the things such as the bullet holes in the sheet, the telephone ringing, the kids (and fully grown adult gangsters) keeping large amounts of money in a locker at a railway station down to artistic and dramatic license and the style of the director.

Sergio Leone: "The films are for grown-ups, but they remain fairy tales and have the impact of fairy tales. For me, cinema is about imagination, and the imagination is best communicated in the form of parables...meaning fairy tales. Not in the Walt Disney sense, though, which draw attention to themselves as fairy tales...everything is made up and cleaned up and sugary sweet making the tale less suggestive. To me, anyway. I think that fairy tales capture the audience’s imagination when the setting is realistic rather than fantastical. The fusion of realistic setting and fantasy story can give film a sense of myth, of legend, Once upon a time......"

The first time I heard about the dream theory was listening to the commentary by Richard Schickel. But he was definitely wrong about the frisbee scene. It must be impossible for a director who has worked on a project for many years to cancel out all the versions of scripts he has read, the book on which a movie is based, all the scenes which were filmed but never used, and all the changes and influences made by members of his cast and crew and put himself in the place of a person who sees the film for the first time and doesn't have all that prior knowledge and those experiences. I've listened to many commentaries over the years in which a director has described his intentions and objectives for a certain part. Sometimes I've thought that yes those are good intentions and it makes sense but there's no way on earth that the ordinary man in the street would see those scenes and realise those were the director's intentions whilst watching the movie.

Personally the things that bothered me most on my first viewing were Bailey's anonimity, the ambiguity of the garbage truck scene and the ending. Bailey's anonimity no longer bothers me, I understand a bit more about the garbage truck and the smile is an iconic image. Leone wanted the movie to be circular and he had to end the movie in some way possibly with a nod to Harry Grey, possibly a nod to his original vision for the movie.

None of the shooting scripts I have read have contained the pages relating to the garbage truck scene and those pages may have given some information about the pagoda and the links to the next scene which was supposed to be a walk through Chinatown.  Leone's way of filming obviously upset the Americans and he had to leave America before the scheduled date.  Possibly he was unable to shoot some of the scenes he had planned to film there.  Possibly budget restraints stopped him from going to China and shooting the walk through scene there.

I suppose personally, on my first viewing, I would have preferred less ambiguity, which may have made it more appealing to a wider audience, but without this and without Leone's unique style, we probably wouldn't still be talking about the movie and having heated discussions about it 30 years after filming began.

 


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: dave jenkins on July 20, 2012, 04:56:54 PM
Something very, very important has to be happening during that smile.
True, but why assume that it is anything more than Leone commenting on Noodle's existence? The "dream" is just the lie that Noodles believes and will continue to believe for 35 years, and perhaps even after that. Max constructed the lie and got Noodles to bite and afterwards Noodles could never let it go. Even when Max summoned him back after the 35 years to reveal the truth, Noodles rejected the truth and chose to continue to believe in the lie. The lie is what makes him happy--ironically, because it requires Noodles to be cast as Judas. But Noodles would rather believe that he is Judas than that Max is.

Recall that when Leone encountered Harry Grey he was struck by the fact that the stories he told about himself as an adult were obviously cribbed from motion pictures. Also note that the opium den does more than sell opium--it's also a magic lantern theater, an obvious metaphor for the cinema. Hollywood was once called the Dream Factory, and perhaps we can say that there are certain affinities between the dreams it produced and the dreams, presumably, one can have under opium. Hollywood had a famous master of illusion called Max, too--Max Factor. There are always Maxes ready to create lies for people to believe, and there are always those with "noodles" who are willing to accept those lies. And it's never a question of not knowing the difference between reality and illusion. It's just that the illusion is what some people prefer.

Grey's adult life, as he related it to others, was a lie. Noodles adult life was another kind of lie. At the end of his picture Leone offered us a metaphor for that lie, the beautiful opium dream.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 20, 2012, 05:34:00 PM
Groggy: your previous post has 8 "sections," each consisting of a quote of mine plus your comment; I will refer to the sections I am responding to by number:

RE: SECTION 1: I believe I read in STDWD that the song God Bless America is playing on the radio in the hotel room in the beginning of the movie, but I just looked at the scene again after reading your post, and I can't be sure about that. RE: whether it's diegetic in the final scene, I am not certain either (did cars have radios in 1933?) So I have to say now that I am not certain about the source of that music, and whether it's intended to be diegetic.

But with Yesterday, it seems pretty certain to me that it is not diegetic. Of course, it's hard to prove that something is NOT diegetic. Unless you see some specific source for it in the scene, I assume it's not diegetic.

RE: SECTION 2: All I'm saying is that the playing of that song fits very well with the dream theory; it is certainly not a proof of that theory


RE: SECTION 3: When Noodles is watching the garbage truck and then the 30's cars go by, there is a pagoda, a Chinese structure,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagoda     in the background, across the street from the Bailey estate. No reason why there'd be a pagoda there on Long Island; but it's a reference to the fact that this is all an opium dream taking place in Chinatown

RE: SECTION 4: Sorry, there was a typo; I meant to say "fact," not "face." (I corrected my initial post). My point is that, as I mentioned above with the pagoda, what's the point of having the pagoda as a 1968 reference to Noodles's opium smoking if you don't believe this is all an opium dream?

RE: SECTION SEVEN: Yes, Leone intended there to be a double meaning, ie. that viewers should say that it could be viewed as a dream. But I don't think the intent was that some will say that it was not intended to be a dream

RE: SECTION EIGHT: Even with the dream, it doesn't mean that the 1968 scenes are pointless! It's not like a kid is dreaming about being chased by monsters, and when he is aroused in a cold sweat, his father says, "It's okay, it never really happened!" Of course there are very important themes in the movie that are important despite the fact that it turns out that it "didn't really happen" cuz it's a dream. The point of the dream theory is not to say that "oh, the 1968 stuff never really happened." (The point is what we've discussed previously, Leone's feelings about the mixture of fantasy/reality, and the dream of cinema, etc. which were also heavily influenced by Leone's meetings with Grey.) But the point is not to say "haha it never really happened." That would be silly.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 20, 2012, 05:49:23 PM
chris: i did not think of the dream theory when I first watched it.  I had no idea about opium and the fact that smokers have dreams about the future. But once I was alerted to the idea that it was  dream, it all made perfect sense, and I now believe 100% that it's a dream


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Groggy on July 20, 2012, 07:02:06 PM
Quote
Leone intended there to be a double meaning, ie. that viewers should say that it could be viewed as a dream. But I don't think the intent was that some will say that it was not intended to be a dream


Thanks for contradicting yourself. It saves me the trouble. :D


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 21, 2012, 10:21:22 PM


Thanks for contradicting yourself. It saves me the trouble. :D

Perhaps I didn't explain myself properly, and/or perhaps you misunderstood me. But I didn't contradict myself; I've been consistent all along. That specific point I was trying to formulate is difficult to explain, so I'll try to do it again, and explain very very clearly what I mean. Here goes:

There are two possible definitions of the term "double meaning"

One possible definition, which I'll call A)  is that Leone intended that some viewers will interpret something one way, while other viewers will interpret it another way.

Another possible definition, which I'll call B)  is that Leone intended that all viewers will understand that there are two possible interpretations of the movie.

I believe that the "double meaning" that was intended was B). Therefore I believe that it is correct to say "Leone intended that viewers will say that the movie exists on two possible levels, as a reality and as a dream." But I believe it is incorrect to say that "since Leone intended that it have a double meaning, the viewers who argue that it MUST be reality are also correct."

 Leone meant is that "all viewers should understand that there is a double meaning." Therefore, those who argue that the movie is absolutely all reality, and completely discount the possibility of a dream element, are wrong.

This is similar to the discussion of the man jumping into the garbage truck at the end. As we know, it looks like Bailey but we never get a clear shot of his face, so it's left to be ambiguous. ("We know, but we don't know, but we know," as James Woods said.) But the ambiguity is not that some viewers should say it's definitely Bailey, while others should say it's definitely not Bailey. Rather, the ambiguity element is that ALL viewers should say it's meant to be ambiguous, that we really know even though don't know for sure.

The reason I so thoroughly discount the argument that the movie could correctly be interpreted as being purely realistic is that as I've discussed extensively before, I think there are so many things that happen in the movie that can't be explained as being pure reality. And cuz Leone clearly mentioned the dream element, it cannot be disregarded. Again, I do not believe that we have to accept the director's word  if he states the meaning of something which cannot be plausibly interpreted from watching the movie; or if others involved in the movie argue with him. But if the director states the meaning of something which certainly is a very reasonable interpretation (to put it mildly), and nobody that I've seen who was involved with the movie denies it, (not to mention the fact that soooo many things that happen make more sense when you go with the director's interpretation), then yes, it is a slam dunk. I think there's lots of room for debate and discussion with Leone's movies, just like all movies, but this is one of the rare times when I absolutely do not give a shred of credibility to an argument: ie. the argument that the movie only reads like straight reality, and that there is no basis for at least a possible interpretation that it's a dream


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on July 22, 2012, 02:09:51 AM


 Leone meant is that "all viewers should understand that there is a double meaning."


If Leone really meant that, then he failed terribly. Only a little minority has interpreted greater parts of the film as a dream.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 22, 2012, 03:28:05 AM
If Leone really meant that, then he failed terribly. Only a little minority has interpreted greater parts of the film as a dream.


I'm not sure what you're basing that on. Do you mean "a little minority of the members on the SLWB"? You;d have to speak to a shitload of fans before you can get an appropriate sample size to definitively know what the opinion is of a minority, small or large. I can only speak for myself and those that I read on the board, and the critics whose reviews I read. I can't pretend to speak for the perhaps hundreds of millions of people worldwide that have seen this film over the past 28 years


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: noodles_leone on July 22, 2012, 03:58:00 AM
Most people who have seen (and liked/loved) the movie have never heard of the dream theory :) Only a bunch of nerds like us know about it.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 22, 2012, 04:11:23 AM
Most people who have seen (and liked/loved) the movie have never heard of the dream theory :) Only a bunch of nerds like us know about it.

polling is a very difficult, costly, time-consuming, and scientific process. But despite all that, we are polling experts here at the SLWB!!!


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: noodles_leone on July 22, 2012, 05:52:42 AM
Actually I'm a (part time) marketing guy, so yeah, polling is part of my job ;)
So I'm not saying I made a regular poll about that but as a guy who does and uses polls on a regular basis, i can tell you there are things where you don't need a scientific poll (except if you have time and money to lose). But no need to argue with me, I follow you on your main point: the ending is supposed to be ambiguous, and the dream theory is totally solid.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 22, 2012, 12:52:52 PM
Chris - I agree with you that the part about the suitcase in the locker is silly, but, even though I absolutely believe that the movie is a dream, I don't think that the suitcase in any way supports the dream theory. I just think it was a poorly written piece of the screenplay. In fact, it's the single biggest thing that bothers me about my favorite movie of all-time. (Sure, there are other things that aren't explained properly because of the all the cut scenes, some of which will now be restored), but the suitcase is just an atrocious bit of script. Sure, it makes sense that some kids who make a few bucks would keep the suitcase with their earnings there; kids aren't that smart. But an adult gang of successful bootleggers/hitmen, with a million dollars put away, would keep all their earnings in a suitcase in a locker at a bus/train station? That is simply ridiculous.

In The Hoods, Max tells the gang they need to take their money out of the bank so as to avoid an investigation on tax evasion, and there's this complicated bit where they put the money in 4 suitcases. Originally, (according to STDWD), the screenplay for OUATIA also had something with the 4 suitcases, but I guess that got too complicated, so they just made it with the one suitcase. But they should have done a better job of hiding it in a more believable place (perhaps in a safe hidden in back of Fat Moe's or something). It's absolutely ludicrous that an important piece of plot of the greatest movie ever would hinge on something so silly as the gang keeping all their cash earnings in that locker.

But I just think it's a poor bit of writing, but has nothing to do with the dream theory.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: iceman on July 22, 2012, 03:05:57 PM

check out  this clip at 4:30 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFLua0roJnI&feature=relmfu




Who is the guy at 6:25 into the clip

ICE


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 22, 2012, 05:50:46 PM
Who is the guy at 6:25 into the clip

ICE

Arnon Milchan, producer of OUATIA.

You should watch the whole documentary, it's on Youtube in 7 parts. It's nice  O0


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 23, 2012, 02:37:47 AM
...It's absolutely ludicrous that an important piece of plot of the greatest movie ever would hinge on something so silly as the gang keeping all their cash earnings in that locker.
But I just think it's a poor bit of writing, but has nothing to do with the dream theory.
I don't think it's a poor bit of writing.

I did wonder about the smile and the dream theory once but there's insufficient time between Noodles inhaling the opium and the smile coming for anything significant to occur.  When I first watched the movie, it didn't seem to me that any part of the movie was dreamlike and for me the dream theory doesn't add any value or explain any of the puzzling or unrealistic events.  It only detracts from what is essentially a very good film.

My point with the lockers is that, throughout the movie, several events and circumstances are slightly unrealistic.  If the reason for accepting the dream theory is to try to reconcile things such as the bullet holes in the sheet, the telephone ringing, age shall not wither her, Bailey's anonimity, the garbage truck scene, the pagoda, the procession of 1930s cars, there are other things in the earlier time periods such as gangsters keeping cash in lockers at a railway station which can't be explained by the dream theory.

A previous post on the topic:

Of course, the Secretary Bailey thing is nothing compared with other implausibilities in the film. I think it was Pauline Kael who first pointed out how ridiculous it was for the gang to be using a locker at the train station as their safety deposit box (train station lockers are cleared out every 24 hours).

Stream trains and railway stations are conducive to romantic and nolstagic images, banks are not.  It's all part of Leone's style, imagination and way of film-making. Realism comes well down in his order of priorities.

"It seems fairly common in films for money to be left in train station lockers and there is a certain romance associated with stream trains and railway stations.  In the book The Hoods the gang keep their cash in banks, which are not usually perceived as very romantic places."

This is the best response to this complaint.  Leone simply wanted these crucial scenes - the pact made by the boys, and Noodles' discovery of the missing money, i.e., the betrayal - to occur within the romantic milieu of a train station, with all those evocative toots and whistles in the background.  I'm sure Leone was well aware of the improbable nature of this plot device, which only shows he wasn't afraid to dispense with "realism" if it happened to interfere with the cinematic effect he wanted.    

On a purely aesthetic level, the plot device also allows for a rather lovely example of narrative symmetry, as the lockers play an important role in all three time periods.

Sergio Leone: "Detail is important but it is not everything.  Vision is everything."

 


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 23, 2012, 03:14:34 AM
As discussed extensively in this thread http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=10498.0 I don't think Bailey's anonymity is a problem. And the phone ringing is Noodles's guilt, in his mind. That moment when his life ended. (I think Leone said something about how the moment Noodles walks into the opium den, having betrayed his friends, he is already spiritually dead). Naturally, Noodles is playing that terrible moment of guilt over and over in his head, and the phone represents that. Of course it's not meant to be a literal phone ringing.
(Fucking Pauline Kael jumped up during the premiere and shouted "would somebody answer that damn phone!) What an idiot  ::)

As for the issue of (parahprasing) "not enough time between Noodles's inhaling the opium and the smile for anything to happen," I think you are missing the chronology: Noodles enters the opium den, inhales the opium, and begins to dream, and he begins to smiles. That's where the movie ends: as he begins to smile, just as his dreams begin. So the movie ends just as he is beginning to dream. Everything that happens after that point -- starting with the beginning of the movie, with Eve's murder, the gang coming after Noodles in the opium den, Noodles escaping the den and then escaping New York, etc. -- is all the dream. So the moment he smiles, at the end of the movie, is just as he begins the dream. The dream itself starts at the beginning of the movie. (At least that's the way I see things  ;) )


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: nat on July 23, 2012, 04:33:02 AM
Regarding unrealistic parts of the movie, does anyone think it realistic in the beginning of the movie where Eve is killed, that they kill her so quickly? No interrogation, no hitting, no threats, no torture...like they had just been doing to Mo.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 23, 2012, 04:37:07 AM
Regarding unrealistic parts of the movie, does anyone think it realistic in the beginning of the movie where Eve is killed, that they kill her so quickly? No interrogation, no hitting, no threats, no torture...like they had just been doing to Mo.

They did hit her. But it was clear that she didn't know anything; therefore, she was killed quickly. But Moe knew where Noodles was, hence he was tortured until he squealed.

btw, there's a great line, when Eve says, "What are you going to do to him"  ;D


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on July 23, 2012, 08:55:02 AM
...Noodles enters the opium den, inhales the opium, and begins to dream, and he begins to smiles...

So the smile does come from the effects of the opium!  

Unless he is beginning to dream about the murder of Eve and smiles (unlikely).

Or he is beginning to dream about the time he was in the john spying on Deborah (possible).

Or he is dreaming backwards starting with Max jumping into the back of a garbage truck (just silly).

  
It could be artistic and dramatic license again but even with opium, dreams take a while to start.

 


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 23, 2012, 03:33:14 PM

So the smile does come from the effects of the opium!  

Unless he is beginning to dream about the murder of Eve and smiles (unlikely).

Or he is beginning to dream about the time he was in the john spying on Deborah (possible).

Or he is dreaming backwards starting with Max jumping into the back of a garbage truck (just silly).

  
It could be artistic and dramatic license again but even with opium, dreams take a while to start.

 


yes, he smiles as he begins to dream. The opium hits him, he closes his eyes and begins to dream and smiles. Then his dreams begin, with the beginning of the movie. (I've never smoked opium so I don't know exactly how it works and how long it takes the dreams to start. But that's how I understand the chronology).


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 07, 2013, 01:16:40 AM
I was reading a book about gangster movies where the author mentions a problem with the dream theory (which is mentioned in every discussion about the dream theory) of how could Noodles know about color tv's and 1968 cars, etc.

IMO, whether or not you believe OUATIA, this particular argument against the dream theory is a stupid one. I mean, let's suppose for a moment that you were gonna making a movie in which someone in 1933 has a dream about 1968.  How would you show 1968? - would you really show everything in 1968 appearing just as it did in 1933? You'd show 1933 cars and styles? You'd show no color TV? *
You need to have some way to convey that this is 1968. If you have an old Noodles show up in 1968, but (aside from the people looking 35 years older) the entire settings and fashions and styles and technology is the same, that would look ridiculous and everyone would be able to tell in five seconds that it's a dream.

So, if you theoretically wanna convey that someone is having a dream about 1968, I don't think that showing the typical 1968 settings/technologies is beyond the normal realm of cinematic suspension of disbelief.


I don't mean to re-debate the dream theory; we've debated that long and hard and I don't know if there is much to add to what has already been said. All I am saying is that IMO, whether you support or oppose dream theory, the argument that the movie can't be  a dream cuz Noodles couldn't anticipate 1968 technology is a ridiculous argument.

------

* and btw, forget all the crap about color TV; there was no TV at all in 1933.

yeah, if you look at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television it says that the very early technologies were around in the late '20's, but this was the real early stuff that basically nobody except the inventors knew about; I don't believe typical people knew anything about television in 1933, and TV's certainly wouldn't have been available in bars/restaurants, like the TV on the wall in Fat Moe's. So once you're making the argument about how the dream theory is implausible cuz Noodles couldn't anticipate color TV, you should actually be making the same argument about him anticipating TV in general


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on November 07, 2013, 05:52:47 AM
It's not ridiculous. It's the perfect argument against the dream theory.

Watch old SF films which are set in a time we have passed now, which were set in a then near future, then you get a few ideas how such a dream could look.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Novecento on November 07, 2013, 06:53:14 PM
... It's all part of Leone's style, imagination and way of film-making. Realism comes well down in his order of priorities.

That's definitely true. It even extends down to things like his extensive use of Kurosawa's technique of having characters appear out of nowhere from the side/bottom of the screen when in reality they would have been noticed well in advance.

... the argument that the movie can't be  a dream cuz Noodles couldn't anticipate 1968 technology is a ridiculous argument.

I think that's a fair point. I mean, how would you depict it otherwise?


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on November 08, 2013, 11:55:49 AM
There are numerous things in the screened version of the movie which contradict the dream theory: television sets, outside broadcasts, modern looking cars and garbage trucks, car rentals, speakers in the mausoleum, frisbees, Jimi Hendrix, CCTV and surveillance system in Bailey's mansion etc.

Leone tried to explain these contradictions by the future seeing effects of opium and in his 1984 interview with Jean A Gili, he obviously didn't think these contradictions mattered:

Sergio Leone: "That this dream be questionable in terms of reality, doesn't really matter to me.  For me reality, too, is a dream."

Personally I don't think the dream theory adds anything useful or is of any benefit to the movie.  On the contrary it detracts from it and a viewer who has been watching a film for 4 hours or so may feel cheated if at the end he discovers in Schickel's commentary or elsewhere that part or all of the movie may have been a dream.

I don't know anyone who, when watching the movie for the first time, thought that part or all of the movie was a dream.  Most found that parts of the movie were puzzling, discovered the dream theory on the commentary or elsewhere and adopted it because it seemed to explain some of the things they found puzzling. The shooting script dated January 1982, 5 months before filming commenced, contains lots of additional details as well as the dialogue and there is no hint in this that any part of the movie is a dream.

Harry Grey said that the sole liberty he took when writing 'The Hoods' was the death of Max.  Grey thought that gangster movies with actors such as James Cagney and Edward G Robinson were unrealistic and he wanted to set the record straight.  Leone's take on this was that the only fully authentic parts of the book were the childhood episodes.  He thought that movies which Grey had watched had unconsciously altered his memories of events.  

Leone did however recognize that this may be a suitable direction for the movie.  Just as the book 'The Hoods' allows Harry Grey, the real Noodles, to recall his memories of events, a mixture of fact and fiction and an unconscious homage to gangster movies, the movie gives Leone the opportunity to present an homage to the sort of films he loved and which he thought were no longer being made.

Over the 15 years that the movie was being planned and even during filming, Leone's original intentions changed.  The opening scenes changed from a dead Noodles with feet encased in concrete being thrown into the Hudson River to Hit men capturing Noodles and Noodles escaping after Fat Moe gives them drugged drinks to the murder of Eve. Sergio Leone has said that he originally intended the movie to be more mythical but once De Niro became involved, he accepted that the movie could have more realism.

In August 1981, members of the writing and production staff were given a hand written note from Leone:

"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."

Elizabeth McGovern has commented: "... with the adults, there was this feeling that Sergio and De Niro were on slightly different tracks. De Niro was so interested in realistic detail and was often concerned that there wasn't enough of it, and Sergio could not have been less interested."

Once the movie was released Leone said on numerous occasions that the movie offered a double reading and in his 1984 interview with Jean A Gili, this was specifically mentioned:

Gili: "The editing of the film helps to read it on two levels."

Leone: "This was done on purpose...This was done very carefully."

Then of course there is the opinion that a director has limited input into a film's final meaning and interpretation and in addition to Leone, there was Harry Grey, five other credited writers, one uncredited writer and the late Stuart Kaminsky.  And we get into the area that all movies apart from a few fly on the wall documentaries could be regarded as imaginary or dreamlike and simply retelling the visions and dreams of the writers and director.

  


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on November 09, 2013, 05:07:05 AM


Personally I don't think the dream theory adds anything useful or is of any benefit to the movie.  On the contrary it detracts from it and a viewer who has been watching a film for 4 hours or so may feel cheated if at the end he discovers in Schickel's commentary or elsewhere that part or all of the movie may have been a dream.

I totally agree ...


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: noodles_leone on November 09, 2013, 06:47:44 AM
The dream doesn't add much, the ambiguity of the ending does. Especially since the two early periods of the movie were writen by a guy who was dreaming his own life. The fact that you cannot say what is real, what is the dream and what is just cinema is one of the main points of OUATIA. It's as much about this than it is about friendship/love/betrayal.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on November 10, 2013, 03:10:09 AM
Good point. Ambiguity is an important part of the movie.  It stimulates thought and discussion long after the movie was first seen, promotes repeat viewings and it reflects more accurately real life during the 1920s and 1930s in that world where the truth about many events may never be known.

   


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 10, 2013, 04:38:58 AM
one thing is absolutely clear: that Leone intended for the movie to at least have a dream as a possible interpretation. Not that he necessarily wanted the story to be a definite dream, but he absolutely intended that the movie should have a dream as a possible interpretation.
Check out this vid at 00:46 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOxhq227RhI
(I've shared this clip before on this threda and elsewhere, but the previous link was taken down; this is a new link)

The speaker (I believe it's one of the screenwriters) says that as they were leaving the first showing of the film in a theater in Rome (I'm not sure if it was technically the "premiere," but whatever...) someone asked Leone about the meaning of the final smile, and Leone said that maybe, just maybe, it was all an opium dream.

So, whether you prefer thinking of the film as a dream or not, I think it's clear that Leone intended the movie to be a dream at least as a possible interpretation.

and btw, the fact that the script makes no specific mention of a dream is not an argument against the dream theory. A script doesn't necessarily discuss the meaning behind a film or the interpretation of a film, (especially if something is intended as a possibility; if it's intended as a m"maybe," as a double meaning, rather than as THE meaning.)

if the final smile in OUATIA is supposed to indicate a dream, it wouldn't be necessary for the script to say "this is supposed to indicate a dream."

Here is how the OUATIA script ends:


SCENE 162 OPIUM DEN (1933) Interior. Sunset.
The old CHINESE LADY greets him. In a moment he's stretched out on a mattress and dragging deep on a long-stemmed pipe.

He holds the smoke in his lungs for a long time before letting it spiral out and up towards the ceiling. The smoke is harsh and kind and cleansing. It wipes out memories, strife, mistakes... and Time.


I don't think that's inconsistent with a dream interpretation. I've hardly ever read any non-Leone scripts, so maybe those who have can clarify this, but my assumption is that a script doesn't discuss interpretations. If the movie really intends the dream at least as a possibility, would the script have to add, "This has all been a dream"?


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on November 10, 2013, 05:51:10 AM
You're quite right drinkanddestroy about Sergio Leone's intention that the movie should have a dream as a possible interpretation and in fact at times it seems that that was the interpretation he favored.  Sorry if recent posts have concentrated on the no dream point of view and the possible lack of value or benefit it adds to the movie.

In any event I'll go with the director that the movie offers a double reading.  So in my mind the opinions of those who support the dream theory are equally as valid as those who don't.

 


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 17, 2013, 06:15:58 AM

------

* and btw, forget all the crap about color TV; there was no TV at all in 1933.

yeah, if you look at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television it says that the very early technologies were around in the late '20's, but this was the real early stuff that basically nobody except the inventors knew about; I don't believe typical people knew anything about television in 1933, and TV's certainly wouldn't have been available in bars/restaurants, like the TV on the wall in Fat Moe's. So once you're making the argument about how the dream theory is implausible cuz Noodles couldn't anticipate color TV, you should actually be making the same argument about him anticipating TV in general

not so fast, d&d

 I read that television is briefly mentioned in this 1932 movie Attorney for the Defense http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022644/board/nest/223479906?ref_=tt_bd_2
and this movie just played on TCM - here is the clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdXJPW92JbU



Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 23, 2014, 04:11:18 AM
Reading Frayling's interview with Martin Scorsese from ONCE UPON A TIME IN ITALY (the companion book to the 2005 Autry exhibit). Here's a piece (on p. 205) where Scorsese is talking about OUATITW and then segues to OUATIA:

 And I guess if you look at Once Upon a Time in the West - my favorite of his pictures; I eventually saw all the others - it is the most John Ford of his movies. In a funny way, Leone's pessimism is the pessimism you find in the late pictures of John Ford - Two Rode Together, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and pictures like that. And when you get to Once Upon a Time in America, the Chinese box idea is very interesting - it's a dream within a series of dreams. Once again, what ties them all together is death. Death is almost like the protagonist of the picture; it's a film about memory, obsession, and friendship - or loyalty in friendship. Ultimately, this may have been for him a conscious act of love for what he felt was American cinema. And I remember him telling me - well, he said this a number of times - he used to say that the title should really have been There Was Once a Certain Type of Cinema rather than Once Upon a Time in America.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: noodles_leone on April 23, 2014, 06:29:22 AM
I don't think that's inconsistent with a dream interpretation. I've hardly ever read any non-Leone scripts, so maybe those who have can clarify this, but my assumption is that a script doesn't discuss interpretations. If the movie really intends the dream at least as a possibility, would the script have to add, "This has all been a dream"?

A script is supposed to write only what will explicitly be on screen and on the soundtrack. No interpretation, no poesy. So this ending ("It wipes out memories, strife, mistakes... and Time.") isn't by the book anyway. If you want that idea to cross your reader's mind, you have to put something like: "The only clock in the room slowly disappears in the smoke". That would mean that you need that shot in the film.
On the other hand, when you're Sergio Leone, you don't care about going by the book. People will read your script anyway and won't come back at you because of technical details. Some other directors take liberties with these rules, the main one being Tarantino. His "leaked" script is full of notes that are not supposed to be in a script ("in gorgeous 70mm").

Anyway, if the movie is a dream, the only way to see it in the script  would be to have a character say "so it was all a dream!"


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 23, 2014, 10:59:15 AM
A script is supposed to write only what will explicitly be on screen and on the soundtrack. No interpretation, no poesy. So this ending ("It wipes out memories, strife, mistakes... and Time.") isn't by the book anyway. If you want that idea to cross your reader's mind, you have to put something like: "The only clock in the room slowly disappears in the smoke". That would mean that you need that shot in the film.
On the other hand, when you're Sergio Leone, you don't care about going by the book. People will read your script anyway and won't come back at you because of technical details. Some other directors take liberties with these rules, the main one being Tarantino. His "leaked" script is full of notes that are not supposed to be in a script ("in gorgeous 70mm").

Anyway, if the movie is a dream, the only way to see it in the script  would be to have a character say "so it was all a dream!"

also, I would assume some directors' shooting scripts are more precise with instructions than others' are. Did Leone intend all along to freeze Noodles's final smile? Or perhaps that last bit of instruction about the smoke wiping out memories and time etc. was meant as a little note to himself, "find some way - during shooting and/or editing to convey the possibility of a dream," and he turned that into the final freeze-frame.
Either way, none of this is inconsistent with a dream theory.

(And btw, I assume I've said this somewheres before - maybe even on thos thread but I am too lazy right now to go back and read through all 6 pages -  but if it's not a dream, there is no motherfuckinggoddamned way in the world that Bailey, who owns a pistol, is gonna kill himself by getting crushed to death in the teeth of a garbage truck; that alone has to tell you that those people who say everything is only literal are idi-idi-idiots.)


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on April 23, 2014, 02:15:29 PM
If Sergio Leone had wanted part of the movie to be interpreted solely as a dream, he could have shown this easily during the filming.  It seems he deliberately wanted some ambiguity and the ambiguity and the director's statements that the film offers a double reading are fine with me.  For me the dream theory on its own adds nothing and for me is of no value other than to play its part in the ambiguity in the movie.

The shooting script contains additional items apart from scene setting, action and dialogue and it may or may not be significant that pages 318 and 319 which relate to the garbage truck scene are missing.  It's possible that these pages were deliberately removed prior to public release to preserve this ambiguity.

Suicide is one of the repeated items in the script - Max's idea to rob the Federal Reserve Bank, Eve with her pills, Carol's mistaken thoughts on Max's death, Cleopatra committing suicide, the garbage truck scene etc.  As filming progressed several ideas in the script were altered and the repeated suicide theme no longer has the same prominence.

Thirty years after the movie was made and almost 40 years after the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, none of us know with certainty what happened to Jimmy or Max.  Some think that Max tricked Noodles for the third time into believing that he had died.

Last year the Daily Mail newspaper carried an article on Jimmy:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2345297/Jimmy-Hoffa-Source-claims-Jimmy-Hoffas-body-sent-WOOD-CHIPPER-remains-found.html (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2345297/Jimmy-Hoffa-Source-claims-Jimmy-Hoffas-body-sent-WOOD-CHIPPER-remains-found.html)

  


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 23, 2014, 02:55:25 PM
If Sergio Leone had wanted part of the movie to be interpreted solely as a dream, he could have shown this easily during the filming.  It seems he deliberately wanted some ambiguity and the ambiguity and the director's statements that the film offers a double reading are fine with me.  For me the dream theory on its own adds nothing and for me is of no value other than to play its part in the ambiguity in the movie. 

He DID show that it was a dream - with the "framing device" of the opium den, and the final smile.

I wouldn't necessarily say "interpreted solely as a dream." The point is not, "This is a dream, period, you were fooled into thinking it's real.... And then he woke up, joke's on you..." cuz that would indeed be stupid. The point is that it works on various levels, and one of them is definitely a dream. As Scorsese said, "a dream within a series of dreams." For some reason, the anti-dream-theory people make it seem as if the dream-theory renders the whole story meaningless, like when a little kid writes a story and ends it with, "And then I woke up... haha, it all means nothing." And that is emphatically NOT the case here. The movie still has meaning despite being a dream; in fact, it has even MORE meaning BECAUSE it is a dream. It involved dream on many different levels: The "American Dream," as conveyed by the God Bless America song. And the dream of cinema  - this movie was Leone's homage to the American gangster film in the same way OUATITW was Leone's homage to the American Western film - as Scorsese quotes Leone saying the movie should have been called There Was Once a Certain Cinema. And Leone was inspired to create the 1968 part of the story - the part that is being dreamed - after meeting the elderly Noodles and realizing the guy was living in a dream world in which he could no longer distinguish fantasy from reality.
So, the idea that part of the plot in a movie about various dreams could also "only" be occurring in a character's dream doesn't ruin anything. If it's a movie about various dreams, and part of it can also be read as a dream in itself, that is just part of the themes of the movie - dreams within dreams. Remember also that one of the big themes is Time. Well, dreams is a wonderful way to play against that - in a dream, there is no restriction of time - you can be in any Time and place you want to.
None of the beauty of OUATIA, and none of the themes of OUATIA, and none of the interpretations of OUATIA, are in any way diminished by the idea that whatever occurs after Noodles enters the opium den can be viewed as a dream.

(p.s. I've still never had a single person attempt to explain why there is a pagoda outside Bailey's house on Long Island, or why the kids are driving 1930's cars there, if it's not a dream).


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on April 23, 2014, 03:22:37 PM
So now you have decided for us that it is a dream?


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on April 24, 2014, 09:34:47 AM
...(p.s. I've still never had a single person attempt to explain why there is a pagoda outside Bailey's house on Long Island, or why the kids are driving 1930's cars there, if it's not a dream).

I've offered explanations on the cars and pagoda on numerous occasions before so I won't waste my time further.

I don't think it's that clear cut and unambiguous, drinkanddestory.  As I understand it, you're accepting that the director wanted to have hallucinatory and dream elements in the movie but refusing to accept his statement that it was edited carefully and on purpose so that it would have a double meaning.

The white jaguar in the procession during the garbage truck scene looks the same as the white jaguar at Bailey's mansion.  The kids could be just dressed up formally and have hired classic cars for an evening out.  The beer bottles thrown out of the cars don't look like beer bottles from 1933.  The pagoda is just a tentative link in anticipation of the following scene.  After the procession of cars goes by Noodles looks down.  The cars and the pagoda could have triggered a memory.  Noodles could just be remembering an important time in his life when he betrayed his friends, went to an opium den to seek solace and is similar to the ending of the book when Noodles stretched out on his back, all his aches and tiredness flowed out of him and he felt safe and at peace.

He DID show that it was a dream - with the "framing device" of the opium den, and the final smile.

I don't know anyone who, on their first viewing of the movie, thought that all or part of the movie was dream.

I get the feeling that the dream idea appealed to Leone but some of the other people who worked on the movie weren't as keen. We know that De Niro for example wanted more realism and Stuart Kaminsky thought that ambiguity was in fact a more realistic way of telling the story in that world where things aren't simple and clear cut and very often the whole truth never emerges. Changes were made to the scenes, action and dialogue as filming took place and even into the editing room. I also get the feeling that after the movie was released, Leone definitely preferred the double reading option.

This is supported by Leone's statements and the fact that pages 318 and 319 in the shooting script relating to the garbage truck scene were removed.  I think it highly likely that these contained things which were not compatible with the preferred ambiguity option.

  


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on April 24, 2014, 10:03:40 AM
Missing pages found!    :D

 

(http://i1078.photobucket.com/albums/w494/chris5522/script/pd1b_zpsb6ef584d.jpg~original)

  


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on April 24, 2014, 01:15:25 PM
Well, if the 1968 parts are only a dream I immediately drop my rating for OUTA to a solid yet unimpressive 6/10.

Luckily it is impossible for me to view it as a dream.

Re-watched the last scenes yesterday to make sure that it is what it always was.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: dave jenkins on April 24, 2014, 01:23:29 PM
Missing pages found!    :D
(http://i1078.photobucket.com/albums/w494/chris5522/script/pd1b_zpsb6ef584d.jpg~original)
;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: dave jenkins on April 24, 2014, 01:27:57 PM
Re-watched the last scenes yesterday to make sure that it is what it always was.
A meta-cinematic comment on the nature of cinema itself? Yeah, that's the way I see it too.
 


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on April 24, 2014, 01:30:30 PM
Actually meta-meta


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: dave jenkins on April 24, 2014, 01:31:45 PM
meta-meta-cinematic? OK. O0


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: noodles_leone on April 24, 2014, 04:33:37 PM
6/10 would be a crazily inappropriate rating for OUATIA even if they had ended the movie with the final speech from Gladiator.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 24, 2014, 04:57:05 PM
@ chris:

I've said many times that I agree with the double meaning. And I believe that's what Leone intended. Not necessarily that. "it's a dream, period," but that it can be viewed at many levels, one of them being a dream. That's been my argument - that the people who say it has NOTHING to do with a dream are wrong. 
If you say it has a double meaning or can be interpreted on different levels, that's what I have believed all along :)


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Novecento on April 24, 2014, 05:47:25 PM
... and the fact that pages 318 and 319 in the shooting script relating to the garbage truck scene were removed.

Hey Chris - what's the source for this?


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on April 26, 2014, 04:11:38 AM
Hey Chris - what's the source for this?

yeah, chris, I'd love to know where you got those two missing pages.

Apologies for the delay - I'm still recovering from a party I went to recently.

The party was held at a very large house in secluded grounds nearby.  Some of the guests were drinking alcohol, some were using drugs and some were smoking illegal substances.  I noticed a guy there who looked sort of familiar.  Quite big, overweight with unusual glasses and a thick grey beard.  He had with him several hundred typed pages and when he went to the bathroom, I had a quick look at the pages.

I was surprised to find that they were a shooting script for Once Upon A Time In America and they were different to any of the scripts I had seen before.  In the scene at the beach behind the fancy restaurant, Noodles tells Deborah how he used to jack off to her in prison and the pages relating to the garbage truck scene were still intact.  The guy then returned from the bathroom and I only managed to read the last couple of paragraphs from those pages.

The following day I woke up with an enormous headache, thought about the script and wrote down anything I could remember.

Now, several days later, I wonder did I dream the whole thing or did it really happen?  I can't say with any certainty but I did notice some images on my mobile phone.  How they got there I don't know.


(http://i1078.photobucket.com/albums/w494/chris5522/script/party1_zpsbb451019.jpg~original)


(http://i1078.photobucket.com/albums/w494/chris5522/script/party2_zpsb3533543.jpg~original)


(http://i1078.photobucket.com/albums/w494/chris5522/script/party3_zps9093c7b4.jpg~original)

  


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Novecento on April 26, 2014, 05:11:29 AM
Chris - my question was about the source of your earlier two statements below. Do you have one or is it just conjecture that the shooting script was ever longer than the original 317 pages:

The shooting script contains additional items apart from scene setting, action and dialogue and it may or may not be significant that pages 318 and 319 which relate to the garbage truck scene are missing.  It's possible that these pages were deliberately removed prior to public release to preserve this ambiguity.

This is supported by Leone's statements and the fact that pages 318 and 319 in the shooting script relating to the garbage truck scene were removed.  I think it highly likely that these contained things which were not compatible with the preferred ambiguity option.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on April 26, 2014, 09:10:36 AM
Chris - my question was about the source of your earlier two statements below. Do you have one or is it just conjecture that the shooting script was ever longer than the original 317 pages

Hi Novecento.

Yes I didn't understand your original question and possibly I still don't.

As far as I am aware there has only been one widely available shooting script/screenplay.  A .pdf version could be downloaded from dailyscript.com free of charge but the quality of this was poor.

http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/Once_Upon_A_Time_In_America.pdf (http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/Once_Upon_A_Time_In_America.pdf)

I tried to OCR this but owing to the quality of the .pdf, there were a lot of errors.   I discovered that there was a higher quality version available for a reasonable price and I purchased a copy.  Apart from the quality this is the same version as the one at dailyscript.  The quality of the paid for version was good enough for OCR and copies can be downloaded free of charge from:

http://msb247.awardspace.com/docs/once.pdf (http://msb247.awardspace.com/docs/once.pdf)

The first page is a cover sheet and the remaining pages are numbered from 1 to 322.  The script should contain 323 pages but there are only 321 pages.

Page numbered 317 covers the end of the meeting between Noodles and Bailey when Noodles leaves Bailey's study by a back door.

Page numbered 320 covers Noodles ambling through Chinatown in 1933, which we think was never filmed because Leone wanted an expensive shooting location in China.

I think it's fairly safe to say that the missing pages, numbered 318 and 319, cover the garbage truck scene. Hope this answers the question.

The version I have is dated Jan 24 1982.  Some say that the original shooting-script was completed in October 1981 and was 317 pages in length and I am aware that there is a version dated later than Jan 1982 - see images above - with slightly different page numbers but I don't have a full copy of it.

  


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Novecento on April 26, 2014, 11:18:51 AM
Thanks - that answers it. I was just wondering on what you were basing your suggestion that pages might have been "removed". However, I'm still not sure I buy your argument that this was intentional...


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 26, 2014, 07:13:48 PM
Chris, is your full name Christian or Christopher? Or perhaps Sir Christopher? ;)


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on April 30, 2014, 05:20:44 AM
Chris, is your full name Christian or Christopher? Or perhaps Sir Christopher? ;)

Flattering but you're way off.  Chris Bailey would be much nearer.



In Stuart Kaminsky's book American Film Genres, he discusses the scenes in the shooting script in detail.  Regarding the garbage truck scene:

"He leaves Max and goes into the street, where he appears to see Max being killed in the shadows behind a garbage truck.  The reflectors of the truck glow "like two fiery eyes" and change into the lights of an old Ford.  The people in the car are dressed in 1930s costume. Noodles of 1968 realizes he is not back in time but firmly in 1968 where some rich people are going to a costume party."


One thing which has always seemed slightly odd to me is the story of the changed dialogue in the beach scene behind the fancy restaurant.


According to Frayling (p.435) Kaminsky was a strict Jew and didn't like it when De Niro said to McGovern that in prison he used to masturbate while reading The Song of Songs! "No! Never!" yelled Kaminsky and it was changed.


In FilmFour's 1999 documentary Once Upon A Time Sergio Leone, Kaminsky says "They sent me Sergio's outline for the film.  The outline is 200+ pages.  The outline for a film. It's twice as long as most films.  Sent it to me and I said fine, I like it and he proceeded to give me a script and talk to me.  It was an Italian script meaning the description is on the left and the dialogue's on the right.  The script that he gave me had the description on the left and nothing on the right throughout this entire script and he said [Kaminsky laughing] fill it in. Develop the characters and fill it in. So I proceeded to do so and I wrote a draft.  This was a script over 400 pages long.  I wrote this draft, I brought it to Sergio in New York at that time and he sat down with it and he began to read the script and he read it and he started to chuckle and he started to laugh and he was rocking and reading it and laughing and he called one of his assistants over and then he read it to him translated into Italian what I had written.  Read the entire script whilst I was sitting there 400 pages laughing and he looked at it and he said, put it down on the side and he said - This is very funny [Kaminsky wiping imaginary tears of laughter from eyes], I don't want funny.  And I proceeded at that point to go on writing."



If Kaminsky was as involved in the dialogue as he says, it seems odd that this script which is so explicit was completed and printed.

(http://i1078.photobucket.com/albums/w494/chris5522/script/party1_zpsbb451019.jpg~original)



I think that between October 1981 and May 1982 five shooting scripts were produced and Kaminsky may not have objected to this from the earlier January 1982 version:

(http://i1078.photobucket.com/albums/w494/chris5522/script/party1b_zps8884cee2.jpg~original)



Kaminsky gives more precise details of his involvement in his book:

"When I came to the project in 1981 and subsequently worked on the script for more than six months, the principal screenwriters were Enrico Medioli, Leo Benvenuti, and Piero DeBernardi.  Medioli, whose best-known credits are for scripts for Luchino Visconti (The Damned; Death in Venice; Rocco and His Brothers), was the only Italian writer who spoke English.  Leone, at the time, spoke little English.  The working procedure for Once upon a Time in America was for the Italian script to be translated into English and given to me.  I would rewrite dialogue and make other suggestions for cutting, change, and defining character; and the script would be retranslated into Italian.  This process was followed through five versions with supervision by Leone and input by the film's star, Robert DeNiro.  Writing took place in Los Angeles, Rome, and New York.  A final four-week session before shooting began was a line-by-line discussion of the English dialogue.  Leone supervised this session.  Various changes in the script were made during shooting."


This ties in better with Leone's interview with Positif magazine in June 1984:

"His intervention was limited; of a technical nature.  He added nothing; he simply adapted faithfully and freely certain things which seemed too translated."


According to Frayling's interview with Luca Morsella, Morsella reckoned that Kaminsky could perhaps have offered more beyond retranslation and helping to shape the long script and Kaminsky tried but didn't manage it maybe because  there was a lot of jealousy among the Italian writers.  Leo Benvenuti added that they had a close working relationship with Kaminsky.  They started on page one, the interpreter did a literal translation, then Kaminsky did his version.

  


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: dave jenkins on April 30, 2014, 06:33:21 AM
Flattering but you're way off.  Chris Bailey would be much nearer.
You mean . . . you're Secretary Bailey's son???


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 30, 2014, 11:28:48 AM
According to what Kaminsky said in that piece in Once Upon a Time Sergio Leone, it seems he just received the story or scenario, and he wrote the English dialogue for it. In that case, he really should have been one of the credited screenwriters, as opposed to merely receiving a credit for "Additional Dialogue."

Did Kaminsky ever say anything about resenting the way he was credited? From what I have seen, Kaminsky had only positive things to say about his experience with Leone (which would make him an exception among Leone's collaborators; Sergio Donati terribly resented the way Leone treated him, including his not receiving any credit for his work on GBU. I think almost all of Leone's writers and some other collaborators ended up having a falling out with him over one thing or another, except the OUATIA collaborators; I never read a bad word from any of them about him.)


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on April 30, 2014, 01:17:09 PM
But the idea is still that not only the ending is a dream, but the whole 1968 time level?


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 30, 2014, 05:26:38 PM
But the idea is still that not only the ending is a dream, but the whole 1968 time level?

of course. (on whatever level the dream exists,) it begins the moment Noodles inhales the opium, goes to sleep, and begins dreaming and smiling. So starting with the moment he is woken up to flee the opium den cuz the hitmen are after him, everything is a dream


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on May 01, 2014, 03:04:44 AM
Ok, but that still doesn't work for me for one second. And if I have for the 30s car at the end a realistic explanation (like rich guys driving to a costume party) or not, it doesn't change that a wee bit.

Of course the ending remains ambigious, but it is far away from being a dream or part of a dream. The point is that Noodles is not able to accept the reality of being fooled for 35 years, that he lived half of his life with a false guilt. So he leaves Max without accepting that he is Max, and then the reality begins to blur, the up to this point realistic feeling film gets a slight, but only slight surrealistic feeling, and we don't know exactly what has happened after he leaves the Bailey mansion. The garbage truck is strange, but we don't know for sure if Max has really killed himself in it, cause when Noodles looks into it we see not the slightest trace of blood, or any other hint that he really might have jumped into the garbage rotors. When Noodles looks at the disappearing lights of the truck, these lights transform into the lights of the 30 car, so for me this is a vision, a glimpse at the past, with which which the film expresses Noodles denying of the present reality and his desire to go back in that past. But Leone does not go back to the point where Noodles was at ease with himself, but at the point when he tries to escape reality and guilt. The pagoda could then be a visual link in the background which prepares for the last shot, for which Leone cuts into the opium den of the beginning. Noodles is happy, but it is only a lie. An appropriate ending for one who was always expiating for his friend. Only at the end, when he chooses Bailey over Max, he chooses for himself a lie which is at least his own lie.

To think that nearly half of the film, which is directed in the same style as the other half, should be a dream only because there are a few absurd moments and a last shot of an opiated Noodles is pretty absurd imo. If Leone wanted the 1968 time level to be a dream he must have directed it more dreamlike, more different from the rest of the film. But even then it would have broken the spine of the film's structure. I can see the tempting possibilities of directing the film as a dream, but I also see enough reasons to skip this idea, cause then it must have become a very different film.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 01, 2014, 07:11:50 AM
@ stanton: so you believe that (on whatever level the dream exists), the dream only begins after Noodles leaves Bailey's mansion.... IMO that is even more absurd than completely denying the possibility of a dream. The whole point of the movie ending at the opium den and ending by freezing the the final smile is that it is that the smile is the framing device for the film - or at least for the dream sequences, ie. Everything that chronologically follows the smile. (BTW, it can even perhaps be said that the ENTIRE film is a dream; that while in his opium haze, Noodles has both rememberances of his past and visions of the future; therefore, the opium den is truly a framing device for the ENTIRE movie. But I don't think it's necessary to say that.) The key moment for Noodles is that betrayal of his friends; he can't bear that thought, and therefore goes to the opium den and everything afterward is a dream. If you say that makes no sense cuz there is little visual/directorial difference between the pre-opium scenes and post-opium scenes, then you can say the same thing about the pre-garbage truck scenes and the post garbage truck scenes.... (btw, Leone spoke about how once Noodles enters that opium den, he is dead, morally dead)... Now his reaction is to get high and dream an alternative reality... The 1968 scenes do not exist in The Hoods; the book ends with Noodles fleeing New York after betraying his friends. Leone first had the idea of adding the 1968 portion to the film - of the aging gangster returning to his old neeighborhood - after meeting with the real Noodles, Harry Grey. (Frayling discussees this at length in the OUATIA chapter of STDWD.) Leone believed Grey was inhabiting a fantasy world - that, with the exception of the childhood chapters, his book had subconsciously ripped off every gangster film cliche and scenario imaginable; Grey was a man who had ceased to be able to tell reality from fantasy, they were all one for him, he was living in a dream/fantasy world. (ctd. Next post)


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 01, 2014, 07:28:31 AM
(ctd. From previous post)
This gave Leone the idea of adding a dreamlike section to the film of the againg gangster trying to make sense of his past, trying to deal with his past, living in a fantasy world.

Plus, this was Leone's homage to the American Gangster Film (just like OUATITW was his homage to the American Western film). A homage to "a certain cinema" that he grew up on, that was his dream; the dream of cinema, as discussed, Leone said to Scorsese that movie should have been called Once There Was a Certain Cinema.
(and please don't be dumb enough to ask why Leone then didn't make OUATITW as a dream, too. It was a dream in a different sense - you don't sell the dream of a lifetime ;) ) ..... "ONCE UPON A TIME" - a fantasy.
 Plus there is the American Dream - the point of the God Bless America song that plays at beginning and end of the movie - Leone himself (like the gangsters in this movie) had a sort of shattered American Dream, how his childhood vision of a great America was somewhat shattered when he saw the American GI's for the first time...

Anyway, if you read Leone's statements about what he intended - and if Leone's intent means anything to you - all the scenes that follow Noodles's visit to the opium den are, on some level, a dream.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on May 01, 2014, 07:33:18 AM
@ stanton: so you believe that (on whatever level the dream exists), the dream only begins after Noodles leaves Bailey's mansion....
No, I don't think that is a dream either, and haven't written that above. There is a probable shift in reality, or better a moment when reality and a visionary moment began to melt, but if so, this all happens on the 1968 time level, and have nothing to do with the last scene. Only that it builds a bridge to the last scene.

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The whole point of the movie ending at the opium den and ending by freezing the the final smile is that it is that the smile is the framing device for the film - or at least for the dream sequences, ie.

I don't see any reason why this should be so necessarily. It's a possibility, but not a convincing one. A better possibility to explain the end was already explained by me above. It is also a more intelligent and complex one than this dream thing.
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Everything that chronologically follows the smile. (BTW, it can even perhaps be said that the ENTIRE film is a dream; that while in his opium haze, Noodles has both rememberances of his past and visions of the future; therefore, the opium den is truly a framing device for the ENTIRE movie. But I don't think it's necessary to say that.) The key moment for Noodles is that betrayal of his friends; he can't bear that thought, and therefore goes to the opium den and everything afterward is a dream. If you say that makes no sense cuz there is little visual/directorial difference between the pre-opium scenes and post-opium scenes, then you can say the same thing about the pre-garbage truck scenes and the post garbage truck scenes.... (btw, Leone spoke about how once Noodles enters that opium den, he is dead, morally dead)... Now his reaction is to get high and dream an alternative reality... The 1968 scenes do not exist in The Hoods; the book ends with Noodles fleeing New York after betraying his friends. Leone first had the idea of adding the 1968 portion to the film - of the aging gangster returning to his old neeighborhood - after meeting with the real Noodles, Harry Grey. (Frayling discussees this at length in the OUATIA chapter of STDWD.) Leone believed Grey was inhabiting a fantasy world - that, with the exception of the childhood chapters, his book had subconsciously ripped off every gangster film cliche and scenario imaginable; Grey was a man who had ceased to be able to tell reality from fantasy, they were all one for him, he was living in a dream/fantasy world. (ctd. Next post)

All this has nothing to do with my interpretation of the end.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on May 01, 2014, 07:36:27 AM
(ctd. From previous post)
This gave Leone the idea of adding a dreamlike section to the film of the againg gangster trying to make sense of his past, trying to deal with his past, living in a fantasy world.

Plus, this was Leone's homage to the American Gangster Film (just like OUATITW was his homage to the American Western film). A homage to "a certain cinema" that he grew up on, that was his dream; the dream of cinema, as discussed, Leone said to Scorsese that movie should have been called Once There Was a Certain Cinema.
(and please don't be dumb enough to ask why Leone then didn't make OUATITW as a dream, too. It was a dream in a different sense - you don't sell the dream of a lifetime ;) ) ..... "ONCE UPON A TIME" - a fantasy.
 Plus there is the American Dream - the point of the God Bless America song that plays at beginning and end of the movie - Leone himself (like the gangsters in this movie) had a sort of shattered American Dream, how his childhood vision of a great America was somewhat shattered when he saw the American GI's for the first time...

Anyway, if you read Leone's statements about what he intended - and if Leone's intent means anything to you - all the scenes that follow Noodles's visit to the opium den are, on some level, a dream.

Not in the actual film.

How comes that I watched the film several times without ever assuming that it could be a dream. Also I don't remember anyone writing about the film for 20 years and calling it a dream. If Leone wanted that to be a dream, he totally failed.

And then, again, why should of all Leone films just the least dreamlike one being the one of which large parts should be an actual dream? I understand what Leone says when he calls his films dreams, dreams of a genre, but also for that, OUTA is the least Leone film which feels like a genre dream.
Terms like "dreaming of a genre" or "the American dream" are very, very different from turning an actual film into a dream. Watch Mulholland Drive, there you have a brilliant film in which large parts of the film could be, or must be interpreted as wishful thinking, and above all it serves the film.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on May 01, 2014, 10:33:53 AM
According to what Kaminsky said in that piece in Once Upon a Time Sergio Leone, it seems he just received the story or scenario, and he wrote the English dialogue for it. In that case, he really should have been one of the credited screenwriters, as opposed to merely receiving a credit for "Additional Dialogue."

Did Kaminsky ever say anything about resenting the way he was credited? From what I have seen, Kaminsky had only positive things to say about his experience with Leone (which would make him an exception among Leone's collaborators; Sergio Donati terribly resented the way Leone treated him, including his not receiving any credit for his work on GBU. I think almost all of Leone's writers and some other collaborators ended up having a falling out with him over one thing or another, except the OUATIA collaborators; I never read a bad word from any of them about him.)

A viewer could easily be misled if watching Kaminsky's interview in the documentary in isolation.  Kaminky said that Leone handed him a script with no dialogue and nothing filled in on the right hand side and asked him to fill it in.  What Kaminsky doesn't explain clearly is that he took the script away, filled in the dialogue/right hand side, took it back later to Leone and Leone rejected it.  It's clear from Leone's comments and Kaminsky in his own book that the Italian writers wrote all the dialogue, an interpreter translated it into rough English and Kaminsky's job was to smooth out the wrinkles in the translation and make it more acceptable.

"Additional dialogue" may in fact overstate it, bearing in mind Leone's 1984 comment "He added nothing; he simply adapted faithfully and freely certain things which seemed too translated."

I've not seen anything which indicates that Kaminsky was in any way resentful of the way his contribution was described, it fits with the details in Kaminsky's own book, and it's also confirmed by Leo Benvenuti and Luca Morsella.

Personally I think that Leone's disagreements with some of the people he worked with were detrimental to his later work.  One example was Mickey Knox who never got over the disagreements they had.  Knox was a Jew, spoke fluent Italian, acted in gangster films such as White Heat etc., knew gangsters and the milieu and had a proven track record in translating and writing dialogue.  Then there's Clint Eastwood...

  


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: dave jenkins on May 02, 2014, 06:05:55 AM
The whole point of the movie ending at the opium den and ending by freezing the the final smile is that it is that the smile is the framing device for the film - or at least for the dream sequences, ie. Everything that chronologically follows the smile.
I don't see it as a framing device. I'm not locked into the notion that everything on the screen contributes to the story. At the end, Leone goes back and abstracts a detail of the film that has already happened, its function in the story already fulfilled. The final sequence in the film is commentary, not narrative.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on May 02, 2014, 12:08:00 PM
I view it also as a commentary.

And if used as a framing device the film must have opened also with the opium den, but it doesn't.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 02, 2014, 12:25:24 PM
If it's all literal, no way would a man that owns a gun choose to kill himself in what would be an incredibly painful way by getting crushed in a garbage truck.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on May 03, 2014, 01:53:37 AM
If it's all literal, no way would a man that owns a gun choose to kill himself in what would be an incredibly painful way by getting crushed in a garbage truck.

But at least with the garbage truck scene there's no debate on Leone's motives or intentions.  He deliberately wanted the disappearance of Max (or somebody who looked like him) to be ambiguous and to have parallels with the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, which is still unexplained today.  And of course Jimmy's disappearance actually happened, it wasn't imagined or part of a dream.

  


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on May 03, 2014, 05:23:51 AM
If it's all literal, no way would a man that owns a gun choose to kill himself in what would be an incredibly painful way by getting crushed in a garbage truck.

Like Chris said, we don't know what happened, we don't know that he killed himself in that scene, or like in the screenplay that some 2 other guys killed him and throw him in the truck.

And if he killed himself, why not accepting this in a film in which a fortune is hidden in a railway station locker and a gangster becomes a politician. In movies things like that are not a real problem when it serves the story or makes some great visuals. Not to mention other things which are hard to believe compared to the "real" life.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: Cusser on May 03, 2014, 08:26:22 AM
Remember, Max had already staged his "death" to start a fresh life once, maybe he did that again.


Leone seemed fascinated by such, like the end of My Name is Nobody.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 04, 2014, 02:32:22 AM
But at least with the garbage truck scene there's no debate on Leone's motives or intentions.  He deliberately wanted the disappearance of Max (or somebody who looked like him) to be ambiguous and to have parallels with the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, which is still unexplained today.  And of course Jimmy's disappearance actually happened, it wasn't imagined or part of a dream.

  

Yes, Jimmy Hoffa was a real person who really disappeared. Does that mean you can't have a movie with a character partially based on him that is operating as a dream? And needless to say, while one of the theories about Hoffa's death is that he died in a garbage truck, nobody says he jumped in there intentionally. Which leaves my original question: if the movie is completely literal, there is no goddamnmotherfuckingwayinhell that a man that owns a gun and wants to commit suicide would choose to die in a garbage truck. So, you say, Leone wanted to preserve the ambiguity? Well, if this is all literal, what's the point of preserving the ambiguity about whether Max really died? Remember, if this is a dream, at least part of the point is that Noodles is trying to deal with this betrayal of his friends, and he is smoking opium and dreaming about the future as a way of dealing with it, and fantasizing about the future, and about an alternate reality: maybe he really wasn't the betrayer after all; maybe he was actually the betrayed! So, there's a dream-like ambiguity – in dreams, you are never certain of anything – about what happened to Max. But, if this is all a literal story, it's really just a straight-up mystery. "So you thought Max was betrayed and dead? Haha, you're wrong, we fooled you; he's the betrayer and alive."  ::) Big deal. I mentioned previously that you don't lose any of the themes of the movie if it's a dream. In fact, I think you gain more. A literal mystery is superficial, the themes of this movie are so much deeper. Take one example: TIME. In a dream, there is no time. Time is manipulated. In a plain mystery, you have the references to Time (like the pocket watch the boys steal from the drunk) but it's so much more effective in a dream world.
And btw, in the restored scenes, the movie is even more of a mystery (e.g. mysterious car following elderly Noodles; mystery in cemetery, etc.) again, IMO a straight-up mystery is much less effective in presenting the themes of the movie if the story is happening literally.




BTW, RE: the garbage truck scene: it is true that Leone wanted the disappearance to be somewhat mysterious; they used a body double for Woods for that scene, it's not Woods himself, to add to the ambiguity. BTW, on pp. 457-458 of STDWD, Frayling says, RE: the filming of that scene: "James Woods had overrun his contract and returned to America, and Sergio Leone needed a figure in a dinner jacket. Even before Woods left, Leone had told the actor, 'I want it to be sort of you, but not you.' " Frayling goes on to describe how Claudio Mancini suggested that, during a break in the filming, they try to find a body double. "Leone was far from convinced; this was stretching the ambiguity. But Luca Morsella managed to track down a man who had once doubled for Gregory Peck, and whose physique was fortuitously similar to that of Woods..."


HOWEVER, Woods himself says at 9:38 of this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd0IlhYRS6I that he was indeed on the set when this scene was filmed, but Leone used a photo double cuz he "wanted it to be a little confusing whether it was me or not, and he said, 'It's like Jimmy Hoffa: We know, but we don't know... but we know."


-----

all those who says it is definitely not a dream have to explain away way to much. yes, they have tried to offer explanations for some of these problems (why the final smile? why the 1930's cars in 1968? why the pagoda? etc.) but at a certain point, when you have to explain away one problem after another, it makes so much more sense to go with the dream interpretation; everything falls into place, and you don't have to explain away all these problems. (Please, I don't wanna hear about the color TV  ;) )

---



IMO bottom line is it comes down to this: do you, as a viewer, give a damn about Leone's intent? There is zero doubt that Leone intended that in some way, one some level, with ambiguity/double meanings/whatever, this is a dream. (E.g. Read STDWD from the bottom of p. 423- 425. And if you haven't seen it yet, watch this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOxhq227RhI at the 00:46 mark, where Leo Benvenuti, one of the screenwriters, talks about how after the first screening in the Barberini Cinema in Rome, someone asked Leone about the significance of the final smile, and he Leone responded that maybe, just maybe, it could all be an opium dream. And stanton, you are wrong to say that the dream interpretation was never mentioned in the first 20 years after the movie was released; look at footnote #62 on p. 517 of STDWD, where Frayling mentions several sources [including one from 1995 and one from 1986, in addition to the quotes by Leone himself, some of which were made on pp. 191-192 of Noel Simsolo's book] that discuss the opium interpretation.)

So, if you don't give a damn about Leone's intent, or if you think he failed miserably in his intent, well, that's your opinion. But it's an absolute fact that Leone intended in some way, on some level, with some double-meaning/ambiguity to have this as a dream. So, for me, if Leone intended it as a possible dream, and it makes perfect sense as a possible dream - even more sense than the literal interpretation - then I am more than happy to go with the interpretation that the movie is operating on some level as a dream  :)


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on May 04, 2014, 03:36:40 AM

all those who says it is definitely not a dream have to explain away way to much. yes, they have tried to offer explanations, and they may make sense for one or two of the problems, but the dream interpretation explains these things much more easily and clearly, and IMO correctly. For example, why the final smile? Why the pagoda? Why the 1930's cars in 1968? Why would a man kill himself in a garbage truck if he has a gun? Yes, the anti-dream people have tried to say, "It was a costume party, the garbage truck allows Max to possibly disappear again, the pagoda is a reference to this or that, etc etc etc." but IMO it's just way too much that you have to try to explain away, the dream interpretation explains these things much more clearly and satisfactorily. I think what bothers you anti-dreamers is that you feel that if you support the dream interpretation, then it's like the whole thing never happened. "And then I woke up --- haha, I fooled you, it never happened." But that's not the case: all the themes and ideas of the movie remain just as strong - heck, they may even be strengthened - with the dream interpretation.

Drink, you should closer read what I write.

I don't have exact explanations for the ending, quite the contrary I think these things are not really real, or must not be viewed as real. Still I don't view them as a dream, and especially not as part of a bigger dream which embraces half of the film. Still it does not explain why apart from the ending the whole 1968 time level never feels like a dream. If you say that 1968 is a complete dream, well then you have much more to explain than those who think that the ending is absolutely real. Then you should better explain why everything before feels as "real" as the rest of the film.

And to say it again, for me the ending feels not real, but also not as a dream. More like a vision which melts reality with surreal moments. It's an unusual ending for a film, and it works because it this only at the end.

You only interpret it as a dream because of a few min at the end, and that's not enough for me. And for these few min you can find easily a literal meaning, but even more important I must not have a literal explanation and still I'm able not to support the dream theory. It can be unreal without being part of dream. Ans that's what I already wrote several times.



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IMO bottom line is it comes down to this: do you, as a viewer, give a damn about Leone's intent? There is zero doubt that Leone intended that in some way, one some level, with ambiguity/double meanings/whatever, this is a dream. (E.g. Read STDWD from the bottom of p. 423- 425. And if you haven't seen it yet, watch this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOxhq227RhI at the 00:46 mark, where Leo Benvenuti, one of the screenwriters, talks about how after the first screening in the Barberini Cinema in Rome, someone asked Leone about the significance of the final smile, and he Leone responded that maybe, just maybe, it could all be an opium dream. And stanton, you are wrong to say that the dream interpretation was never mentioned in the first 20 years after the movie was released; look at footnote #62 on p. 517 of STDWD, where Frayling mentions several sources [including one from 1995 and one from 1986, in addition to the quotes by Leone himself, some of which were made on pp. 191-192 of Noel Simsolo's book] that discuss the opium interpretation.)

I haven't said that it was never mentioned (read me closer), only that I can't remember any mentioning. Big, big difference. That means, it was possibly mentioned here and there, but it never became part of the main interpretation of the film. While when you talk about e.g. Mulholland Drive you can't do this without talking about the narrative break in the film. But you can write about OUTA without ever talking about that dream thing.
Also I never denied the possibility of it being a dream or an opium hallucination. But I view it only as a vague possibility which is not carried enough by the actual film. Regardless of Leone's intentions before shooting the film, the above quote by Leone (" ... maybe, just maybe ... ") also only refers to its vagueness.

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So, if you don't give a damn about Leone's intent, well, that's your prerogative. If you agree that Leone intended to have this as a possible ambiguous dream but failed miserably in his intent, well, that's your prerogative. If you think the movie makes more sense as a strictly literal film, and therefore prefer to think of it that way regardless of Leone's intent, well, that's your prerogative. But if you say that the whole dream theory was made up by some people years later and that there was no intent on the part of Leone to have this as a dream in any way, well in that case you are flat-out wrong. (I don't want to slay any straw men; I'm not saying anyone here is arguing that. I don't know if they are. All I am saying is that) IMO, if Leone says the movie is supposed to be a possible dream, and it makes perfect sense to me to view the movie the way Leone intended it - in fact, it makes much MORE sense to me that way - then yeah, I'll view it that way. Theoretically, if I didn't like the dream interpretation but believed Leone intended it to be a dream, then how would I feel about it? Would I go with Leone's interpretation over my own which I preferred? I have no idea, because that never happened to me. I see no reason not to go along with Leone's intention here - in fact, I see every reason to indeed go along with it, so I do.


Of course I do care for Leone's intents, but generally spoken I must not care about them. We discussed this before, and imo I can interpret a film against the intentions of the director, and then my view of the film (if reasonable) is as "right" as that of its maker. There can be more than one "truth" exist about one film. But I'm sure you won't understand this now, as you did not in the past.
Let's view the "intention" thing the other way round, must we now first check the director's intentions before we watch a film? And what if the director talks bullshit or tells lies about his intentions? Do we still follow his "intentions"? How do we know that we can trust him? Why should we don't believe what we think we see in a film. From that point of view it is indeed less important what a director, a critic or god says about a film, but it is instead important what I think about a film. Even if I'm maybe sometimes completely wrong.

The point about OUTA is, as far as I experienced it, most people watch OUTA without thinking that it all or greater parts of it were a dream. It is a possibility, yes, but not a sure one, not a necessary one.



Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on May 04, 2014, 03:44:08 AM
...chris, as you said, Leone removed those two pages from the script - which had it as an explicit dream - to preserve the ambiguity...

My post about finding the missing 2 pages was my feeble attempt at a joke and none of us know what was in those pages.  Since I've not seen the pages, I can't say what they contained.  In fact it's possible they contained the complete opposite and that the script made it clear that the garbage truck scene was not part of a dream and happened in 1968.

Kaminsky, who will have seen the pages, made the comment:

"...The reflectors of the truck glow "like two fiery eyes" and change into the lights of an old Ford.  The people in the car are dressed in 1930s costume. Noodles of 1968 realizes he is not back in time but firmly in 1968..."

Incidentally I'm not sure why he put the phrase "like two fiery eyes" in quotation marks other than it was possibly a direct quote from the script.

Leone's vision and intentions changed over the years but I agree with you that he wanted the movie to have a double reading and ambiguity.  Whether or not he was successful in that is open to debate.  As I've said before I don't know anyone who thought that part or all of the movie was a dream on their first viewing without reference to Schickel's commentary, the Once Upon A Time documentary or other material.
 
  


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 04, 2014, 04:07:55 AM
Let's view the "intention" thing the other way round, must we now first check the director's intentions before we watch a film? And what if the director talks bullshit or tells lies about his intentions? Do we still follow his "intentions"? How do we know that we can trust him? Why should we don't believe what we think we see in a film. From that point of view it is indeed less important what a director, a critic or god says about a film, but it is instead important what I think about a film. Even if I'm maybe sometimes completely wrong.





this is obviously ridiculous. depends on the situation. depends on a lot of stuff. I am talkinga bout OUATIA, not every theoretical movie/interpretation ever made/offered. We don't have to get into the theoretical ridiculous in order to discuss OUATIA.

In the case of OUATIA, the dream interpretation fits very well. Just because I didn't think of it the first time I watched the movie doesn't mean it's not legit. I've never smoked opium and have no idea about its effects. I certainly didn't understand the significance of the final smile and when I heard the dream interpretation offered (I forgot where it first was) it made sense. And the more I read about it, the more it made sense. The fact that many viewers didn't figure it out on their own is not an argument against it: as we've said a hundred times, there was an intent of ambiguity, it's not a clear AND THEN HE WOKE UP, so, yes, just like the viewer at that first showing in the cinema in Rome that Leo Benvenuti was talking about, I was unsure of it and when given that interpretation, it made sense to me. And reading all that Leone said about it - and not only Leone, but others like Martin Scorsese - has convinced me more and more that it makes sense as a dream. It's not like Leone said, "Believe it's a dream," and I responded, "Yes, Master, I will." Rather, after reading about the dream explanation, it makes a lot of sense to me, and that's that.

And no matter what explanations have been attempted, I've never seen one that is close to satisfactory in explaining why the movie end sin the opium den and closes on the final smile. Yes, many have been offered; but i can't believe that anyone offering them is fully satisfied with them. The dream interpretation is a completely satisfactory one for that final smile. And again, the dream interpretation doesn't mean the movie is meaningless; quote the contrary. On some level, it is a dream. But all the themes and ideas and beauty of the movie still remain.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: chris on May 04, 2014, 04:13:17 AM
when you said those two missing pages state that it was clearly a dream, that was a joke? You said you downloaded them from some site or another, that wasn't true? Yes, it was obvious that your joking initial explanation of how you got them was a joke, but when you copied those pages in yellow Courier New font that said that this was all a dream, that wasn't real, you made that whole thing up yourself?

Of course.  Sorry, drinkanddestroy, I thought everyone would have guessed it was a joke. I did wake up one morning and in a dreamlike state thought the idea was quite funny. Sometimes humor doesn't cross the Atlantic well.  Apologies.

   


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 04, 2014, 04:25:42 AM
that's stupid


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 04, 2014, 04:27:53 AM
A1 has various scripts for the movie on his site http://msb247.awardspace.com/ (click the "Links and Downloads" link on bottom left of the home page). I've downloaded these already onto my computer. I think these are the same ones at the links your provided earlier


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: stanton on May 04, 2014, 04:35:19 AM
this is obviously ridiculous. depends on the situation. depends on a lot of stuff. I am talkinga bout OUATIA, not every theoretical movie/interpretation ever made/offered. We don't have to get into the theoretical ridiculous in order to discuss OUATIA.
Well, we have. At least if we want to look at films and the world form a more complex point of view.

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In the case of OUATIA, the dream interpretation fits very well. Just because I didn't think of it the first time I watched the movie doesn't mean it's not legit. I've never smoked opium and have no idea about its effects. I certainly didn't understand the significance of the final smile and when I heard the dream interpretation offered (I forgot where it first was) it made sense. And the more I read about it, the more it made sense. The fact that many viewers didn't figure it out on their own is not an argument against it: as we've said a hundred times, there was an intent of ambiguity, it's not a clear AND THEN HE WOKE UP, so, yes, just like the viewer at that first showing in the cinema in Rome that Leo Benvenuti was talking about, I was unsure of it and when given that interpretation, it made sense to me. And reading all that Leone said about it - and not only Leone, but others like Martin Scorsese - has convinced me more and more that it makes sense as a dream. It's not like Leone said, "Believe it's a dream," and I responded, "Yes, Master, I will." Rather, after reading about the dream explanation, it makes a lot of sense to me, and that's that.
Still you can't explain why most of it doesn't look like a dream, and how comes that Noodles sees the future as it is (more or less), and not like a vision or like a notion. It could make sense when Noodles in his mind changes his past, but for the future it does not work in a film like OUTA. It could work in a David Lynch film, but not in a Leone film.

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And no matter what explanations have been attempted, I've never seen one that is close to satisfactory in explaining why the movie end sin the opium den and closes on the final smile.

My interpretation, my way to view the film, is for me much more satisfactory than yours. Obviously, if you would see the satisfaction of it we wouldn't need to discuss that here. Or not?

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Yes, many have been offered; but i can't believe that anyone offering them is fully satisfied with them. The dream interpretation is a completely satisfactory one for that final smile.

What you want is an obvious explanation, one that explains everything. I don't need that. I accept it as ambiguous or as a final comment on Noodles thinking. And it works very well.
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And again, the dream interpretation doesn't mean the movie is meaningless; quote the contrary. On some level, it is a dream. But all the themes and ideas and beauty of the movie still remain.

I don't think it is then meaningless, but the film is then in parts for me then all wrong. The film is then less good for me. As I said, with the dream theory I would lower my rating from 8 to 6/10. Still not a bad film, but one with great structural deficits.


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: noodles_leone on May 04, 2014, 05:01:11 PM
that's stupid

and funny


Title: Re: Dream Theory IMDB
Post by: dave jenkins on May 04, 2014, 06:21:11 PM
Yeah, I laughed and laughed.