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Epic Dream Sequences

March 20, 2011

I was watching House last week, a brilliant episode I might add, and it occurred to me I should take a look back at epic dream sequences in movie and television across the years. What started this whole thought process was House and Cuddy  in a very visual spoof of Judy Garland’s “Come on Get Happy.” Some of the imagery was just off the charts.

So I stated digging back in the vault to see what other shows/movies had dream sequences worthy of mention.

Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore

The first one that came to mind was The Big Lebowski and the Viking Woman/Bowler dream. You want to talk about epic! Jeff Bridges as the Dude and Julianne Moore as Maude Lebowski play together in a bowling alley themed dream with viking overtures guaranteed to work your grin muscles.

This movie introduced me to the off-beat brilliance of the Coen Brothers whose work remains among my favorite with Fargo, Oh Brother Where Art Thou, and their recent, True Grit. “The Dude” is one of my favorite movie characters of all time. He’s like the neighbor from hell.

Capt Picard: Star Trek: First Contact

For you Star Trek fans, there was the dream sequence to open, Star Trek: First Contact, where Picard’s hatred of the Borg was played out in dreams. This was actually a dream sequence inside a dream sequence where Picard finds himself in a Borg Cube being assimalted by his nemises. Just as a drill bit lowers towards his eyeball, the Captain wakes up in his cabin aboard the Enterprise.  He goes to wash his face and seconds later Borg mechanisms jump out of his face — and he wakes up again. This time for real. It takes directorial talent to embed a dream sequence into another dream sequence.

Speaking of directorial talent and dreams within dreams….

Leonardo DiCaprio: Inception

If you haven’t seen last years Leonardo DiCaprio movie, Inception, you have missed what may be the biggest/best movie about dream sequences ever. There were a few times in that movie I just sort of cocked my head to the side and asked, “How in the world did they do that?”

DiCaprio is stellar as dream traveler “Cobb” who is the best in the business – the business of stealing your dreams and in the process your mind.  There were moments I was not exactly sure whether I was watching a dream sequence or reality, the movement between the two was so seamless. Director Christopher Nolan, who brought us Memento and The Dark Knight, pulls off some amazing film trickery making Inception the must-see movie of 2010.

The real surprise of this movie was actress Ellen Page (Juno), as fellow dream surfer Ariadne. Brilliant performance.

Dallas Shocker: Bobby Lives

There is no way you could have a discussion about dream sequences and not talk about Bobby Ewing on the hit show Dallas. Only in Hollywood…

As the story goes, Patrick Duffy, actor portraying Bobby Ewing, wanted to leave the show. Producers obliged and at the end of season 8, killed off Bobby Ewing by having his sister-in-law run him down with her car… “SQUISH!”

With Dallas ratings plummeting through the next season, Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing) convinced Duffy to return to the show. (Dilemma… Isn’t the character dead?)  No problem for the writers.

Dallas fans watched the cliff-hanger episode as Pam (Bobby’s widow) awoke from her wedding night – she had just married long time suitor Mark Graison- to find her new husband gone.

Pam hears the shower running in the bathroom. She slides back the shower door and there is Duffy (Bobby Ewing in his nude-not dead costume) lathering up in his birthday suit. “Good morning” he says as the credits roll. (May 1986)

So let me get this straight. As the tenth season opens, Pamela Ewing is describing for Bobby her “Dream.” It turns out that all of season nine happened in Pam’s head as she slept. Every storyline, every punch, every crooked deal, and every corny line of season nine never happened. I repeat…. Only in Hollywood!

To round out my epic dream sequences I have to add Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the Judge Reinhold/Phoebe Cates day-dream scene.  (Although not officially a dream sequence I was compelled to include it.) In the family friendly atmosphere of my blog I can’t really include pictures, but I think it safe to say that Judge Reinhold is not the only teenager to spank the monkey to Phoebe Cates.

Which brings us full circle. What about this Hugh Laurie, House, dream sequence that sent me down this path?  Check it out…

Here are a few honorable mentions for cinematic dreams.

    • Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
    • Carrie
    • Papillon
    • Nightmare on Elm Street
    • Rosemary’s Baby

Can you think of any I missed?  Send me the missing “Dream Sequence” in the comment section below.

2 Comments
  1. March 20, 2011 11:42 am

    I’m so glad you mentioned Nightmare on Elm Street – a string of dream sequences guaranteed to ruin for sleep for weeks to come. :-D I love that movie!

  2. March 21, 2011 9:17 am

    Fight Club is a dream-sequence movie (although the protagonist says he DOESN’T sleep)! ;-)
    Devil’s Advocate: poor Charlize Theron going crazy has really weird dreams…
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?
    Still have Inception on the ToWatch DVD pile… and haven’t seen the ones you mention… but thanks for the list! :-)

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