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Author Topic: Dream Theory IMDB  (Read 36014 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« Reply #15 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.

« Last Edit: November 10, 2013, 06:31:25 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #16 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.

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« Reply #17 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  Roll Eyes


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  Wink) 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  Grin or  Roll Eyes when I hear that!)

« Last Edit: July 17, 2012, 03:05:27 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #18 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.

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« Reply #19 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?

 

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« Reply #20 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.


« Last Edit: November 10, 2013, 06:32:58 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #21 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.

 

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« Reply #22 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.

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« Reply #23 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.

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« Reply #24 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.

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« Reply #25 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.


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« Reply #26 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.

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« Reply #27 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.


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chris
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« Reply #28 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.
 

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« Reply #29 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.

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