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Author Topic: Dream Theory IMDB  (Read 36057 times)
cigar joe
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« 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.


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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2009, 11:28:21 AM »

We're in the Twilight Zone now, where pretty much everything's possible.

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« Reply #2 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.

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« Reply #3 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).

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« Reply #4 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.

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« Reply #5 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.

« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 11:48:29 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #6 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  Roll Eyes Grin

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

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« Reply #7 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)

 

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« Reply #8 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?

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« Reply #9 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.

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« Reply #10 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."
 
 

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« Reply #11 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.

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« Reply #12 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

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« Reply #13 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.

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« Reply #14 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.



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