I had a lot of strange and strangely vivid dreams last night, a few of them distinctly cinema-related. The extraordinary self-indulgence of turning this blog into my "dream journal," even for one post, will hopefully be off-set by the fact that I'll relate just the filmic stuff. (And I do think that at least one reader will find this topic interesting.) So I'll share.
1) I dreamt I took my girlfriend to see a film musical at a massive theater--it was on a special screen because, being made in the 1950s/60s, it was widescreen. And when I say widescreen, this dreamfilm had an aspect ratio of maybe 4:1. Although I recall no singing or dancing in dreamwatching the film, I know it was a musical because (a) in my dream state I had seen it before, "but only on pan-and-scan VHS" as I recall I told another patron, (b) a musical is the sort of film I'd take my girlfriend to see (one of our first dates was to Singin' in the Rain), and (c) I wanted to tell my co-worker, who's really into musicals, that I saw this special extravaganza on the big screen.
At the screening itself, the huge theater wasn't packed--though there were proportionally more people, and the shape of the auditorium itself doesn't correspond, I'm reminded somewhat in mood (but only in my current, waking state) of the theater from Goodbye Dragon Inn.
The screening had some camp elements, with crowds of cultist fans yelling dialogue at the screen, too. But I can't recall much about the film itself. I do remember that the screen actually would 'freeze' sometimes and only one square of movement (framed, say, 'inside a window') would appear, and in my dream I figured it was quite logical for the filmmakers to not waste time or money shooting moving images with all cameras (because, like Cinerama, this super-widescreen work must have been shot with several cameras...) and just use stills for certain frames when need be. The only plot element I can recall is that the protagonist (a middle aged white man) is mentally unstable and, as I said to myself in the dream screening, "Oh yeah, now I remember from my first viewing--there are certain scenes that are figments of his imagination, but you can't know that until deeper into the storyline." Doesn't quite sound like a Hollywood musical, does it?
Because it was a camp screening and everybody was eating and having a good time, people were walking in and out of the theater, too.
2) So I went out at one point, and walked into another screening down the hall, where a John Ford film was playing. (This one, too, I had "seen before" and loved well, though I realized upon awakening that there's no such film as this one.) The moment in the film that I dreamed is a brief narrative digression--probably away from John Wayne's story--where Victor Maclaglen is saying an ode to his dead wife. The film (in black and white) shows Maclaglen as he talks, but pans away from him, and his voice continues offscreen, like a narration, and I remember someone throwing dirt. Maybe in the dreamfilm they were burying her at her grave? I can't remember the context except that handfuls or shovelfuls of dirt were thrown into the air (contrasting with the pale sky) and the music played gently underneath Maclaglen's voice, and in my dream I was so incredibly moved by this moment of Fordian beauty that I had to turn away from the screen and cry. At the same time as I was overwhelmed emotionally, I had an epiphany in my dream that Ford's cinema borrows much from early British documentary cinema (like John Grierson) and I thought I had discovered the key to something big about his art.
Now I'm scratching my head a little bit and will have to give it some thought. But it was right after this epiphany that a sound from outside pulled me from my slumber.
Ah, to write about films that don't exist ...