Monday, September 10, 2007

The Cinematic Otherworld

About three weeks ago, I dreamt I was sitting with a group of people around a table in some sort of parapsychology lab. It was sort of like a séance, only instead of contacting spirits, we were trying to "make something happen."

After one session, I went into an adjacent room full of computer equipment, etc., and found a a group of electronic cables had all fused into a big ball. Somehow this was significant -- and somehow the affect of the dream was such that my unconscious dream controller pressed the "Abort!" button, and I woke up suddenly.

On some level, the dream reminded me of the 1990 movie Flatliners, in which a group of medical students try to create their own near-death experiences. There is Kieffer Sutherland as the bold leader ("Philosophy failed. Religion failed. Now it's time for medical science to try."), Oliver Platt as the over-intellectualizing Jew ("I did not come to medical school to murder my class mates no matter how deranged they might be."), Kevin Bacon as the angry but good-hearted skeptic, and Julia Roberts as the girl who is one of the guys.

Sutherland's character is actually expressing a very 19th-century notion, but let's set that aside. Set aside too why some demented set designer felt that Bacon's character should drive an Army surplus M751 truck -- in Chicago.

All of the medical students who "flatline" find themselves in an Otherworld where they must confront people whom they wronged. On some intuitive level, I always felt that the movie might have captured a sliver of the after-death experience, just as The Cuckoo has an interesting shamanic sequence.

Or am I kidding myself? Is it possible to portray the Otherworld realistically on film? And what does "realistically" mean in such a context?

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Blogger Jason Pitzl-Waters said...

I think the rotoscoped film "Waking Life" is an interesting experiment in creating an "otherworld"/"dreamworld" experience. The movie is intentionally hazy on if the point of view character is dead or merely dreaming.

Also of note is the film "Mirrormask", which I would classify as an interesting failure (in the best sense of the term). It uses a hybrid of actors within the computer-generated world of artist Dave McKean.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...

I see that Netflix has both of those, so I will give them a try. Thanks.

9:34 PM  

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