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Author Topic: I know why it's all just a dream  (Read 12814 times)
Juan Miranda
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« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2005, 06:33:14 PM »

Deborah's son look just like the young max.

David is not Deborah's son (he calls her "Deborah" and not "mom"). This is a common error. He looks like Max because he is Max'x son. Deborah tells Noodles that Max/Secretary Baily had married a wealthy woman and had a son. She died at his birth.

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leonehayrani
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« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2005, 12:36:09 PM »

The first time I saw it, the notion that it could all be a dream occurred to me at the end, because the last scene from 1968 is rather strange and surreal, especially with the tail lights of the garbage truck seeming to fade into headlights of some old-fashioned cars full of 30s-looking people swining champagne.  I expected it to be another transition back to 1933 only to find it was still 1968 and Noodles was watching calmly and thoughfully as this whole odd sequence transpired.  Then, this is followed with the final opium-den scene and that famous smile at the end.  The combination of the two hit me and really made me think about the dream.  Hearing commentary, seeing the documentary, and watching it all over again hit that home.

I am not sure, and I really don't think that there is a right answer.  This is based in part on what I have heard about Leone's own statements on the subject, but I do tend to interpret it as a dream.  So much of the future story is just a little odd or unexplained, not least of all that last scene with the garbage truck, making it seem like Noodles is having a weird dream that it starting to break down by the end, with elements of both 1933 and 1968 blending together. 

I don't think that the fact that there are real 1960s details destroy the fact that it's a dream, since for the pruposes of making a movie those have to be there to make it actually seem like 1968.  Arguably, perhaps, this could also be a dream that a potentially still opium-addicted Noodles might be conjuring up in 1968, since the ending in 1933 could simply indicate further, life-long solace in the drug, even though that view may be taking it too far.   

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« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2005, 08:28:44 AM »

Leone never said definitively whether it was a dream or not, so it's pretty much up to the viewer. Personally I like to think that the sixties are reality, since this is where the emotional climax of the film takes place here, and putting the film in flashback sets the nostalgic, mournful tone of the film. Saying that its all a dream taking place in the opium den ruins the theme. So why does he smile at the end? Personally I think he's just thinking to himself something like "Gee, life sure is funny sometimes", which is a way we all feel sometimes, even when life isn't going so well, and it probably helps that he's off his face on opium.

Anyway there are no right answers really, the film is so multi-layered it can mean anything you want, which is why it's so great.

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leonehayrani
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« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2005, 11:32:27 AM »

As I said before, I also agree that there are no right answers.  Your interpretation of the smile is also logical and makes sense.

I do not, however, feel that interpreting the 1968 part as an opium dream ruins the themese or messages.  I think that either way, all the themes, the tragedy, etc., are still there and just as potent. 

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2005, 03:35:21 AM »

All you have to do is compare OUATIA with movies that really are meant to be dreams to see that OUATIA doesn't fit the pattern. Just look at a good example of the genre (Point Blank, check out the wonderful new DVD) or even a bad one (Jacob's Ladder). These films raise the idea early in the film and keep up a steady stream of hints throughout. By the time you get to the end, there is very little ambiguity: you know you've been watching a dream.

Anyway, OUATIA is about memory, not dreaming. If you think Leone would adulterate his great theme with a cheesy O Henry/Twilight Zone plot twist, you probably think Blanton's Gold can be improved by adding some Rebel Yell.

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« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2005, 10:09:42 AM »

There are lot's of hint's why it could be a dream. Of course, no one is right when it comes to the analysis of this movie. But also take a look at deborah. She hasen't aged a bit!!!!!!!! And what about the surrealistic "death" of max in the garbagetruck?Huh??

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« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2005, 01:21:43 PM »

The end of the movie is like any other flashback in a Leone movie, and of course all of the movies in his American dream trilogy all end with a flashback to the past.

Remember, the movie doesn't really start out with De Niro in the opium den, but when we do see him first he's already lying down. At the end of the movie he walks in, so wouldn't that be a "backwards" book end? It's just like Sean's final flashback in DYS, it takes place before the two previous flashbacks he had.

The movie is all in Noodles' mind anyway since the past are flashbacks, and all the transitions are done like "doorways". The transition from '33 to '68, the transition from '68 to the early 1900's, etc., and if you remember, Noodles is in the opium den on the beginning after Deborah and Max, and his old life, have left him. At the end of the movie Deborah and Max are behind him as well, and what do we cut to? Where he was when Deborah and Max were behind him.

I've always thought of it as symbolism of his mental/emotional state in the present like quite a few other people here, but that also makes more sense if you look at the way the past coincides with the future earlier on in the movie and repeats itself in a way.
During the flashbacks Noodles has in Max's office we see everything happening to them as kids that happened to them as adults. Max's first appearance on the wagon(And his supposed exit on a garbage truck), Max "faking his death" on the boat, and I'm not sure which order the scene where the kids are making an agreement on the suitcase is, but of course we remember Max never said "agreed", which coincides with the future obviously, and of course the first two things I mentioned happened in the opposite order they happen at the end of movie.

A lot of OUATIA is like a mirror image of itself Shocked

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« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2005, 06:58:05 AM »

   I don't know if this has ever been mentioned before but for me the strongest evidence that the 1968 future was Noodles dream is that NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS WOULD DEBORAH HAVE HOOKED UP WITH MAX.
     What motives could there possibly be?With her huge success as an actress Deborah would certainly not be lacking in any adulation or wealth she needed.What attracted her to Noodles was his charm and love of books and poetry-totally different from Max-but she could never accept his (gangster) livelihood which she saw as holding her back-Senator Bailey was a big time sleazy gangster/politician/businessman.Throughout the whole movie Deborah and Max made it clear they hated each other and  were playing a tug of war over Noodles allegiances.Max HATED "broads" apart from the odd "tart" as he saw them as getting in the way of business.Can you really see  Deborah putting up with being treated the same way as the Tuesday Weld charater.In any case,out of respect for Noodles-they both knew/suspected he may still be alive-it would never have happened.
        I'm sure this whole Deborah/Max relationship took place  in Noodles dream because they were the two most important people in his life and this sort of weird occurence happens in dreams.

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Juan Miranda
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« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2005, 07:25:01 PM »

By the same token you could argue that it can not be a dream, because the last person on Earth Noodles would want to see Deborah with would be Max.

When we are firmly in the "real" past he even says something like "You'se is both alike, that's why you hate one another." Why would he subsiquently conjure them up as a dream? And why would he have Max grind in the truth of his destruction of Noodles by saying "I even took your girl."

Perhaps it wasn't too important to Deborah that she ended up with the rich and powerful Secretary Bailey, any rich and powerful man would have done, such is the nature of her character. However. It would be of paramount importance to Max that he gets Deborah, to connect forever with Noodles and also to utterly defeat him.

In terms of narritive too, it seems vital that Noodles should first learn of who Secretary Bailey really is through Deborah, when he sees his son sitting outside Deborah's "changing room" (note too the importance of those words!).

There are many "never in a million years moments" in the movies. This may seem like one of them, and I'll admit it does seem an anomely. Is it any more likely though, that in the vast confusion of the American Civil War that Blondie and Tucu end up in a POW camp run by Angel Eyes (what the hell he's doing there is never explained anyway)?

Also, if it really was a fantasy, wouldn't Noodles have definately killed Max at the end, and not have left it so vague?

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« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2005, 02:17:19 AM »

      There is also such a thing called a nightmare where this crazy eventuality could happen.I really do not think you can compare GBU because most westerns  like this of the spaghetti variety are essentially comic strip tales(OUATIA is a much more darker and serious movie) and it is totally believable that  Angel Eyes takes over the POW camp.
It was undeniably Deborahs nature to achieve fame and adulation but there is no evidence to indicate she was ever after a powerful and rich man-in fact she confesses to Noodles that she could quite easily allow him to keep her to himself and away from everything else in the world.
I'm sorry but i don't see it that Max wants to connect with Noodles forever-yes his son is called David like Noodles-another part of the bad dream.Why should Max want to utterly defeat Noodles- he's taken the million dollars and set himself up for life in politics etc.If this was reality(it isn't as indicated by Leone himself) Max may well want to murder Noodles to avoid retribution -but not defeat him-Noodles was never ever competing with Max,he loved him and tried to save Maxes life.

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« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2005, 09:46:55 PM »

Well then why are they showing Noodles walking into the opium den, which is right before Eve enters the apartment on the beginning.

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« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2005, 02:23:28 AM »

     Noodles is already dreaming when Eve enters the apartment and Fat Moe is  taking the beating.This is clearly evident when we first see Noodles because he is asleep and is only momentarily awoken by the elderly chinese man with the bowl and then Noodles drifts off again to resume his dream.
Dreams very often reflect reality and Noodles is feeling a profound sense of loss.He has lost his best friend Max forever as a result of his tip and most probably Deborah also as a result of the rape.This sense of loss echoed in Noodles dream ,brings together the absurd notion of Deborah(who will always look young and beautiful in Noodles eyes) in a relationship with Max.

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« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2005, 02:40:52 AM »

      Poggle,i've just checked my dvd and vhs copy of UOATIA  for the sequence of events.As i said above, first we see Eve in the apartment,then Fat Moe,then Noodles on his back with his eyes tightly shut.He is NOT shown walking into the opium den beforehand.

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« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2005, 04:23:43 AM »

    Yeah Poggle,just watched this through to the very end  of the movie where Noodles does walk into the opium den which obviously precedes the scenes with Eve and Fat Moe at the very beginning during which  Noodles  is already dreaming.

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« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2005, 03:33:15 PM »

I watched it again last night and caught things in a different light. I believe the dream theory now, but depending on what mood I'm in, I could choose to watch the movie with a different mindset, but not a different interpretation anymore. In a surreal, philosophical, Dali-esque mood I'd like to dwell on the dream theory and now I believe it, but when I also want to see a movie about this guy's life I could believe either one, because either way it's a good story, but here is what stuck out to me:

In the beginning of the supposed opium dream we hear God Bless America and at the end of the dream we hear it, but what's even more interesting is that Noodles is walking toward what looks like a Chinese hut of some sort, and of course we see kids from the 30's celebrating the end of prohibition, so the story, both in Noodles' mind and in the narrative, goes in an endless circle, which I find more interesting than my more vague theories. Wow! What's also interesting is the horn honking in Noodles' apartment on the beginning, which reminded me of that car.

Another thing which I mentioned before but not in this context is that Noodles' senior citizen years mirror his childhood years, and of course what happens in the train station? We make the transition with him looking in a mirror Shocked
Just look at all of the events that happened in the childhood years, play them backwards and you have the old years, but unlike the second meeting of Max and Noodles(Just like the second-to last scene with them), the whole thing with the pocket watch, + "stolen time"(At 6:35!) + being bailed out by the one who's not holding the watch, Noodles doesn't fullfill what happened in the past and instead decides to take a "backdoor", just like Deborah offered him in the dressing room.

Wow Shocked It seems like everytime I watch this movie, which is usually at least once a month, I catch a million different things that I didn't acknowledge or think of before.

Now I have this crazy-assed theory about Minaldi - After finding out that the gang is going to be getting involved in the trucking business(If I remember correctly), he wants Max killed(For the same reason Bugsy beat the **** out of them) and uses Carol to manipulate Noodles into turning him in, though I wonder if Minaldi's men entering the Chinese theater is part of the dream or during his "sense of clarity".

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