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Film Studies Association of Canada

DREAMS IN FILMS AND FILMS AS DREAMS: SURREALISM AND POPULAR AMERICAN


CINEMA
Author(s): STEPHEN SHAROT
Source: Revue Canadienne d'tudes cinmatographiques / Canadian Journal of Film Studies,
Vol. 24, No. 1 (SPRING | PRINTEMPS 2015), pp. 66-89
Published by: Film Studies Association of Canada
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43673608
Accessed: 25-11-2017 11:11 UTC

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DREAMS IN FILMS AND FILMS AS
DREAMS: SURREALISM AND POPULAR
AMERICAN CINEMA

STEPHEN SHAROT

Rsum : Les films ayant recours des squences de rves taient particulire-
ment nombreux au cours de la priode transitoire. Ds 19 15, ces films connurent
une baisse de rgime considrable avant de redevenir plus nombreux partir de
la fin des annes 1930, et ce, grce la popularisation de la psychanalyse. Dans le
cinma classique hollywoodien, les composantes du langage cinmatographique
furent mises en avant dans le but de rendre compte de 1 etranget des rves et leurs
carts par rapport la ralit de la digse des films. Les surralistes subvertis-
saient le style raliste classique en faisant des rves le modle de leur ralit , et
cette subversion fut mise en pratique dans les quelques films qu'ils avaient raliss.
Surralistes et classiques hollywoodiens s'approprirent la psychanalyse freudienne
dans leurs approches des rves ; cependant ces appropriations divergeaient radicale-
ment. Un examen des squences oniriques dans des comdies musicales permettra
d'clairer le dbat sur la distinction entre les rves dans les films et les films oniriques.

Dreams have frequently been associated with films and the experience of
the spectator in the cinema. One common association is that films provide a
pleasurable escape from the everyday world; frequent names for nickelodeons
or cinemas from the earliest days were Dream Theatre, Dreamland Theatre and
Bijou Dream, and the major center of popular film production, Hollywood,
became known as the dream factory. Analogies made between dreams and
films, such as their spatio-temporal discontinuity, and between dreamers and
spectators, both relatively passive and immobile, have been noted by many
theoreticians of film, especially those influenced by psychoanalysis.1 Some
authors have countered the analogies by emphasizing the differences between
films and dreams and have questioned whether the purported similarities
provide us with significant insights into films and spectatorship.2 The focus in
this paper is not with the analogies proposed by film theorists but with the rep-
resentation or appropriation of dreams by filmmakers and would-be filmmakers.
Two approaches are distinguished and compared. Firstly, the insertion of
dreams as circumscribed sequences within films made in accord with the
norms of cinematic realism or the "classical Hollywood style." Secondly, the
"dream film" that was advocated and produced in the 1920s and early 1930s by

66 CANADIAN JOURNAL OF FILM STUDIES /


REVUE CANADIENNE D'TUDES CINMATOGRAPHIQUES
VOLUME 24 NO. 1 I SPRING I PRINTEMPS 2015 I PP 66-89

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the French and Spanish Surrealists who appropriated the dream state in order
to achieve their goal of "surre ality." These approaches were based on radically
different assumptions with regard to the relationship of dreams and "reality"
but it is possible to trace interactions between them whereby, in one develop-
ment, Hollywood incorporated elements of dream Surrealism within a realist
frame that remained basically intact, and, in another development, the dream-
reality distinction broke down in certain Hollywood films and genres such as
the musical, which will be examined below. Both the Surrealists and Hollywood
appropriated Freudian psychoanalysis in their approaches to dreams, but these
appropriations diverged radically.

DREAMS IN POPULAR CINEMA

Dreams were a popular subject in early cinema, both in the "cinema of


attractions" and during the "transitional period." When films were very short
the dream would take up almost their entire length and provided the "attrac-
tions" of fantasy and illusion through special effects and visual devices, lhe
cavalier s table in The Cavaliers Dream (Edison, 1898) is suddenly spread with
a sumptuous feast and an old witch is transformed into a beautiful young girl.3
In The Artists Dream (American Mutoscope and Biograph, 1899) a beautiful
ballet dancer turns into a stern landlady who, when the artist awakes, is
standing before him demanding her rent.4 A few years later in The Dream of a
Rarebit Fiend (Edison, Edwin S. Porter, 1906) an elemental cause of a dream
is shown prior to its humorous portrayal. Overeating and drinking lead to a
wildly animated dream provided by special effects such as stop motion, split
screen, and superimposition (fig. l).5

Fig. 1 : An example of special


effects to convey the dream in
The Dream of a Rarebit Fiend.

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The dreams depicted in the cinema of attractions took the same form as
other films of the period, such as the "magician" films, which used the same
special effects. As we enter the "transitional period" dreams began to occupy a
discrete place within the narrative and were used to reveal the subjectivity of a
protagonist rather than as an opportunity for special effects. What is particular
to the transitional period, in comparison with what came before and what came
afterwards, is the sheer number of films with dream sequences. A perusal of the
trade journal Moving Picture World over the first six months of 1909 finds some
thirty films released with dream scenes, and more than half of these were made
in America. A few continued the tendency of the "cinema of attractions" to use
the dream as an appropriate context for the portrayal of fantastic visions as in The
Silver Dollar (Lubin) in which a bad dream is caused by overeating.6 However,
many dreams in films were now depicted without special effects. These included
premonition dreams as in A Telegraphic Warning (Vitagraph) in which a soldier
dreams that his daughter warns him of an enemy attack,7 and in Saved By His
Sweetheart (Lubin) a girls dream that her boyfriend is being attacked enables
her to save him from drowning.8 The widespread view that a dream contains
the dreamers memories was found in films such as Ole Sweethearts of Mine
(Vitagraph) in which a married man dreams of his previous romantic affairs.9
There were dreams that taught the dreamer a lesson and reformed him; the
husband in The Tyrants Dream (Selig) ceases to tyrannize his wife and mother-
in-law after he dreams that they pursue and punish him.10 Dreams of anxiety
included After the Bachelors Ball (Lubin) in which the bachelor dreams he is
pursued by objectionable women who wish to be his housekeeper.11 Dreams
portraying wish-fulfillments included The Suffragettes Dream (Path), in which
the suffragette dreams that gender roles are reversed,12 and The Saleslady's
Matinee Idol (Edison) in which the saleslady dreams that she is married to the
matinee idol. The dream in The Saleslady's Matinee Idol is an early example of
the insertion of a dream that explains a character s state of mind and subsequent
actions within a much wider narrative frame 13
Toward the end of the transitional period dreams in films became even
more frequent. Charlie Keil notes a large number of films with dream sequences
released in 19 12, 14 and dreams appeared in thirty- three of the films reviewed in
Motion Picture World over a three month period (June-August) in 1915. Dreams
appeared in cartoons, comedies and dramas, from one-reelers to five-reel films,
with motifs similar to those of previous years. A common theme of dreams in
comedies was the comic s great achievements and bravery; in Billie Joins the
Navy (Lubin) the sailor dreams of being an admiral,15 in the five-reel My Best
Girl (B.A. Rolfe) the soldier dreams of performing heroic acts,16 and in The Bank
(Essanay) Charlie Chaplins character thwarts a robbery.17 Some of the dreams
in dramas provided warnings of the consequences of inappropriate behavior;
the husbands dream in When Conscience Sleeps (Edison) induces him to be

68 STEPHEN SHAROT

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faithful to his wife,18 and in Jealousy (Lubin) a plot that includes a killing, a trial,
an escape and police pursuit, all occurring within a dream, cures a husband of his
jealousy.19 A drama could direct the protagonist in the right direction; in What
Might Have Been (Imp) the girl s dream directs her to choose the appropriate
man from her two suitors.20 And a dream could show what might have been long
after the protagonist had made her choice; in The Market Price of Love (Essanay)
the girl dreams of the happiness she might have had if she had married the man
she had loved rather than for money.21
From 1915, as feature-length films became standard, the number of
films with dream sequences declined substantially. Cultural changes were not
congenial to unsophisticated comic dreams, at least in features, or to dreams that
had taught morality in the dramas of previous years. There were few feature films
that included dreams in the 1920s22 and early 1930s, and it is with the popular-
ization of psychoanalysis from the late 1930s that dreams in films became more
frequent and contextualized in the framework of a more complex psychology
of the protagonists' waking life. Some of the dreams portrayed in the cinema
of attractions and the transition period had been informed by pre-Freudian
psychologies of dreams including the somatic model, biographical models, and
simple wish-fulfillment.23 During the classical Hollywood period, popularized
Freudian notions of the relationship between dreams and the unconscious were
incorporated as part of the more complex psychology of protagonists. The dis-
tinction between the "subjectivity" of the dream and the "objectivity" of the rest
of the film was common in films prior to the diffusion of Freudian ideas among
American film-makers, but insofar as Freud s ideas influenced the portrayal of
dreams in popular films, they tended to reinforce the distinction between the
"reality" of the waking life and dreams.
Most dreams in classical Hollywood films were clearly signaled as dreams
of one of the characters portrayed in the film. Visual cues, such as ripple
dissolves, and aural cues, such as garbled sounds or discordant music, were used
to separate the dream sequence from the rest of the film, lhe effects alerted
the audience that they should not interpret what was to follow as a reality
state. Although dreams in classical Hollywood films were unlike the dream
spectacles of the cinema of attractions, once the dream began the components
of film language (cinematography, editing, sound, mise-en-scne) were put to
use to convey the strangeness of the dream, its deviation from the reality of the
everyday world. The cinematographic effects included the use of special lenses
or optics that provided distortions, such as the stretching of characters, filming
out of focus, positioning the camera at oblique angles, and processes such as
dissolves, multiple exposures, and flickering. Lighting for dream scenes has
exaggerated contrasts and produced bizarre appearances. Color has been made
to appear "unrealistic" by adding or deleting elements of the spectrum, or moving
from color to monochrome. Among the editing techniques that have been found

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appropriate to dreams are series of rapid shots and jump-cuts that dissolve
spatial and temporal continuity. Distorted voice and music have been a frequent
device in the portrayal of dreams, and under the category of mise-en-scne we
can include distorted sets, unusual clothing, strange arrangements of characters
and objects, and grotesque performances.

SURREALISTS AND DREAM FILMS

In its representation of dreams, the classical style assumed the commonly


accepted distinctions between reality and dream, the objective and the subjective,
the unconscious and the conscious. It was precisely these distinctions that the
Surrealists sought to break down or to overcome, and whereas in popular films
it was the task of the "real world" to make sense of the dreams, the Surrealists
proposed that dreams provided the model for their "super-reality." Andr Breton
pronounced, in his Premier manifeste du surralisme in 1924, that Surrealism was
a means of uniting the unconscious to the conscious and dreams to the everyday
world in order to create "an absolute reality, a surreality "24 Rationalism and daily
life had to be revised and refashioned in ways that followed the "trajectory of
the dream." lhe free association of thoughts and images that were believed to
characterize the dream provided a model for the "pure psychic automatism"
proposed by Breton. Writings and artistic endeavors should be automatic,
unhindered by reason, and uninfluenced by aesthetic or moral considerations.
This produced, as in dreams, a "surreal" association or juxtaposition of worlds or
images displaced from their normal or regular contexts.25
Bretons first Surrealist Manifesto included praise for Freuds work on
dreams, and Freud s influence is evident in most accounts of dreams published
by Surrealist writers and artists.26 The Surrealists valued Freud for showing
how dreams revealed the workings and desires of the unconscious and for his
emphasis on the centrality of visual images in dreams. Freuds influence on early
Surrealism should not, however, be exaggerated, and it is appropriate to note
their fundamental diffrences. Freud emphasized the distinction between real-
ity-based thinking and non-rational phenomena, such as dreams, which are
dominated by unconscious process. The psychoanalyst assumed such a distinc-
tion when he sought to uncover and undo the dream-work that had distorted
and transformed the thoughts of the latent dream into the images of the manifest
dream. By working back from the manifest dream and decoding its symbolic
language the analyst was able to discover the motive for the latent dream, the
repressed, unconscious infantile wish.27 Such a goal was remote from the Sur-
realists' desire to fuse dream and the exterior world and arrive at a surreality.
Breton would later criticize Freud for his remark that psychic reality should not
be confused with material reality and for his failure to appreciate that he had
discovered the principle of the reconciliation of opposites. Freud, on his part,

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admitted that he found Surrealism incomprehensible and was far from pleased
that the Surrealists, whom he was inclined to regard as "complete fools" had
adopted him as their "patron saint."28
The Surrealists valued dreams because they represented freedom from the
constraints of rationalism and the limitations imposed by bourgeois society, and
they valued the cinema because they believed that films had dreamlike qualities,
lhe members of the formative Surrealist movement in the 1920s were primarily
writers and painters, but they appreciated the importance of films whose
dreamlike characteristics could inspire their creativity in poetry and painting.
Robert Desnos and Philippe Soupault, prominent early Surrealists, emphasized
the association of dreams and film. Desnos compared the darkness of the cinema
to that of the bedroom before we went to sleep, and he wrote that the screen
might be "equal to our dreams."29 Films should project the "essential character-
istics of the dreams, sensuality, absolute liberty...."30 Soupault wrote that Surreal-
ists thought of the film as "a marvelous mode of expression for the dream state,"
and that, from the birth of Surrealism, they had "sought to discover, thanks to
the cinema, the meaning of expressing the immense power of the dream."31
Although it was not always clear in Surrealist writings if their argument was
that all films were like dreams or whether they believed that ideally films should
be like dreams, Desnos wrote that only rarely did films offer an experience
comparable to that of dreams: most filmmakers "disregarded the essential char-
acteristic of dream, its sensuality, its absolute liberty...."32 In promoting their
view that films should be like dreams, the Surrealists supported the subversion
of the classical realist style, and this subversion was put into practice when they
wrote film scenarios and, in a few cases, actually made films. They favored, if
not the complete absence of a narrative, at least a non-coherent one, as well as
discontinuous editing and a non-unified and non-linear space and time. Events
were not, for the most part, to be understood as motivated, and they were not to
follow sequences of causes and effects.
In some respects, however, and especially with regard to the positioning
of the spectator, there was a convergence of Surrealist views and the classical
Hollywood style. This convergence was implied in an article written in 1925 by
Jean Goudal, a writer who was not a Surrealist, on the importance of dreams and
the cinema for Surrealists. Goudal wrote that, just as in the dream our imagin-
ation is not constrained by the real, the darkness of the cinema hall "destroys
the rivalry of real images that would contradict the ones on the screen."33
This, in fact, is the object of the classical style: to segregate the time and space
of the film from the actual time and space of the spectator. Goudal could be
espousing the classical style when he wrote that, "in the cinema, as in the dream,
the fact is complete master," but he diverges from such an exposition when he
writes that, "no explanation is needed to justify the heroes' actions. One event
follows another...with such rapidity that we barely have time to mind the logical

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commentary that would explain them or at least connect them."34 Accounts of
the classical style conceive of spectators as accepting what they see on the screen,
but this is just because continuity editing enables them to make the linkages.
Goudal noted that what was lacking in the cinema (of his time) - sound,
color and three-dimensionality - removed it from reality and made it analogous
to the process of simplification in dreams. Haim Finkelstein writes that the
decline of interest in the cinema among the Surrealists by the early 1930s was a
consequence, in part, of the introduction of sound, which had an adverse effect
on the cinema as dream discourse, lhe Surrealists believed that the cinema
should not attempt to convince us of the "reality" of its images but that sound
had enhanced the impression of that "reality."35 However, in an article published
in 1954, Jacques Brunius wrote that the modern techniques of film enable it to
"cross the bridge" in opposite directions: towards objectification or subjecti-
fication, toward reality or the dream.36 Following Brunius, Hammond writes
that the cinema has remained the least realistic of arts "because of the tension
between the 'fidelity' of photography and the 'infidelity' of montage," and he
adds that sound could add to this antithesis: "Used naturalistically, it fortified
photography's fidelity; used unnaturalistically, dissonantly, it strengthened
montage s infidelity."37 However, once the proponents of the cinema as dream
admitted that the cinema produces an illusion of reality, their accounts would
appear to differ only in their emphases from the characterization of the classical
realist style. The spanning of time and space by montage means that it does not
reproduce reality, but continuity editing, like particular techniques of photog-
raphy, contribute to the creation of an illusion of reality. Sound, also, even when
used "unnaturalistically," can contribute to that illusion.
In proposing films as dreams, the Surrealists faced a dilemma that did not
arise for makers of popular films when they included dreams in their films, lhe
dream in the popular film was inserted within a realist frame; it was presented
in many cases for the interpretation of wide-awake protagonists in the films
narrative, and always for the scrutiny of wide-awake spectators. For Surrealists,
there was a question of what a film dream should convey: the dreamer s belief in
the dream as real, however strange the dream content, when she or he is asleep
and dreaming, or the feeling of the strangeness and non-reality of the dream
when the person reflects upon it after waking. On the one hand, to convey
the strangeness of the dream by using the techniques similar to those used by
popular filmmakers when they inserted dreams in their films was to state that
the film was only a dream. This defeated the object of presenting the dream film
as a true reality. On the other hand, to forego the use of special techniques and
emphasize realism in the film was to present the dream film as no different from
a taken-for-granted everyday reality that the Surrealists sought to challenge.
The question of what was a true "dream film" entered into the Surrealists
rejection of avant-garde film makers with whom they were sometimes identified.

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lhe differences between the Surrealists and the avant-garde became focused
on the film-dream analogy when the Surrealists protested against the film La
Coquille et le Clergyman at its inaugural screening in 1928. The film was directed
by the avant-garde filmmaker Germaine Dulac, and it was based on a scenario
by the Surrealist Antonin Artaud. It was Artaud who led the protest against the
film. Both the scenarist and the director subscribed to the film-dream analogy,
but each had a different conception of what this involved. Dulac labeled the film
a "dream" in her press release before its screening, and Artaud objected to this.
Artaud stated that his scenario could "be related to the mechanism of a dream
without actually being a dream itself."38 Sandy Flitterman-Lewis explains that
Dulac s concern was to render a dream-like effect, to provide an impression of
incoherence, a surface irrationality rather than, as Artaud wanted, to recreate
the experience of the dream for the spectator. Dulac s position was based on
a Symbolist aesthetic of fusion and synthesis, a poetic evocation of dream-like
images with their rhythms and harmonies. Artaud s intention was to liberate the
unconscious of the spectators, to open themselves up to the irrational and the
absurd, and to challenge accepted institutions and values through expressions of
disjunction, incongruity, and violence.39
Although La Coquille et le Clergyman is one of only three films that some
historians believe are unanimously recognized as surrealist,40 it is the other
two films on this exclusive list that were in accord with Artaud s intention:
Un Chien andalou (1929) and L'Age d'or (1930) by Luis Buuel and Salvador
Dal.41 Linda Williams states that these two films are the only "pure" examples
of Surrealist film.42 One of Artaud s objections to Dulac s interpretation of his
scenario was that the director s use of technical devices or tricks to enhance a

dream-like quality had detracted from the film having a radical effect.43 Although
Bunuels first two films were not entirely bereft of special cinematic techniques
(slow motion for example), they are relatively free of photographic distortions
compared with other purported Surrealist films. Strangeness is conveyed almost
entirely by the non-logical and paradoxical combinations of characters, objects,
and settings while, at the same time, preserving the vivid representation of the
photographed world.44
Buuel wrote in his autobiography that he loved dreams, and this love was
"the single most important thing" that he shared with the Surrealists. He wrote
that Un Chien andalou was born of an encounter between a dream of his and a
dream of Dal. Buuel had dreamt of a long tapering cloud slicing the moon in
half. We see this image near the beginning of the film, and it is followed by the
famous shot of the apparent slicing of a woman's eye by a razor. Dali s dream was
of a hand crawling with ants, and this was also incorporated in the film.45 Buuel
insisted, however, that he and Dal had not attempted to reconstruct a dream
but to profit from a "mechanism analogous to that of dreams,"46 a phrase that
Artaud had also used to describe his scenario for La Coquille et le Clergyman.

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Fig. 2: Finding a cow
lying placidly in her bed
in LAge d'or...

Buuel did not spell out what he meant by the mechanism of a dream, but he
wrote that their only rule was that there should be no idea or image "that might
lend itself to a rational explanation."47
Bunuels and Dali s rejection of rational imagery and associations did not
involve putting onto film the visual style of Dal with its distortions of objects,
persons, and landscapes. Their object was to present dislocation and disruptions
of space and of narrative continuity in a matter-of-fact and natural fashion, "as if
requiring no further validation."48 Likewise, behaviors of some of the protagon-
ists that would ordinarily be regarded as grotesque or as indications of madness
are accepted unquestionably by other "normal" characters. Buuel later stated
that he and Dal wished to keep all those images that surprised them without
trying to explain them,49 and that "nothing in the film symbolizes anything."50
Bunuels anti-interpretative stance was in accord with his insistence that the
film was not intended as a representation of a dream. The films images were
not like those of the "manifest content" of a dream that could be traced back to

rationally understood latent meanings, but Buuel later admitted that he had not
succeeded in preventing spectators from treating his film as an attempt to com-
municate the illogicality of dreams.51
L'Age d'or , even more than Un Chien andalou, conveys our matter-of-fact
acceptance when we dream of images and associations that, after waking, we
regard as strange and unreal (figs. 2 and 3). Strangeness is conveyed without
artistic flourishes and special cinematographic techniques, such as peculiar
angles, slow motion, and the alternation of long-shots and close-ups, that were
used in Un Chien andalou. The camera scarcely moves in L'Age d'or, long and
medium shots predominate, and editing is limited. Although there are extreme
deviations from narrative cinema, especially at the beginning and end of the
film, a narrative thread is evident for most of the film. It is the frustration and
betrayal of desire, the impossibility of the would-be lovers ever becoming one,

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Fig. 3: ...Lya Lys is somewhat
irritated but basically unfazed.

that governs most of the film. In this sense the film conforms to Bunuels own
dreams that, by his own account, "are always full of the same familiar obstacles."52
As the man in L'Age d'or is led through the streets, billboards displaying
beautiful women stimulate an erotic daydream in which his would-be lover
replaces the billboard woman, but for the most part the film, like Un Chien
andalou, is not represented as the dream or dreams of its particular characters.
Breton praised both films as bringing "about the state where the distinction
between the subjective and the objective loses its necessity and value."53 In
Bunuels later films, dreams are understood to be those of particular characters,
but there is a difference between earlier films, such as Los Olvidados (1950) and
Robinson Crusoe (1952) in which the dreams are short segments, are well-cued
and include special techniques such as slow motion, and later films, particularly
Belle de jour (1967) and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) in which
distinctions between reality and dreams are made problematic.54
If the Surrealists succeeded in making very few films that were truly
Surrealist dream films in accordance with their own criteria, the possibility of
such films being made within popular cinema would appear to be remote, lhe
Surrealists believed, however, that approximations to dream films were to be
found in certain genres of popular cinema.

THE SURREALISTS AND POPULAR CINEMA

Many of Bunuels films may be characterized by playfulness with respect


to the distinction between reality and dreams. The popular cinema acclaimed
by the Surrealists appeared, in a less conscious fashion than Buuel, to blur the
distinction between reality and dreams. This was a popular cinema that was the
least in accord with the principles of the classical Hollywood style: the serials,
both French (Feuillades Fantmas and Les Vampires ) and American (The Perils

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of Pauline, The Exploits of Elaine), and the comedies of Sennett, Chaplin, Keaton,
and Langton. When sound came, the Surrealists admired the Marx Brothers and
W.C. Fields, as well as horror films, westerns and Tarzan films. Films that were
scorned by conventional critics as infantile and idiotic were adopted and praised
by the Surrealists as equivalent to their own endeavors in the absurd. Serials and
comedies challenged logic and reason, and the comedies in particular made fun
of social customs, bourgeois conventions, and repressive authorities.55
lhe Surrealists did not normally single out films for praise in which dream
sequences were set apart from the rest of the film. An exception was made for
Peter Ibbetson (1935) that, according to Breton, was the only film, besides L'Age
d'or, to express the Surrealist faith in l'amour fou.S6 Peter Ibbetson, adapted from a
novel by George Du Maurier and previously made as a silent film under the title
Forever ( 1921), was an atypical film for Hollywood and for its director, Henry
Hathaway, who made mostly adventure films. What attracted the Surrealists to
the film was its lengthy final section in which the lovers overcome their forced
separation through their shared dreams.
The film begins with Peter and Mary as close childhood friends who
are parted by the death of the boy s mother. Twenty years later, Peter (Cary
Cooper), an architect, is employed by Mary (Ann Harding), now married to a
Duke, to design and supervise the building of new stables at her home. They do
not at first recognize each other, but their feelings toward each other come out
into the open after they discover that they have shared a dream. The Duke, rec-
ognizing their shared love, threatens Peter who accidentally kills the Duke and
receives a life sentence. Peter s spine is broken by a jailor, and he is near to death
when Mary appears in his cell, telling him that he is free and to take her hand.
Peter realizes he is dreaming when Mary moves unhindered through the bars of
his cell, but she tells him that they are dreaming together: "We re dreaming true.
A dream that is more than a dream." In order to persuade Peter of the reality of
their dreams and that he should continue to live, she shows him a ring and says
that he will receive it the next day. Peter receives the ring when Mary persuades
the prison doctor, who believes that Peter has already died, to take it to his cell.
The proof of the ring begins a life of shared dreams that continues for many years
and during which Peter and Mary stay as young as when they first recognized
each other. When Mary dies, she calls down from Heaven for Peter who dies to
join her for eternity (fig. 4).
The photography of Peter Ibbetson is evenly sharp in the films earlier
sequences, but in the sequences of shared dreams it includes shots of shards of
hazy light that stream into Peter s cell, Mary s bedroom, and the forest in which
they meet. The editing also changes somewhat to include long dissolves from
Peter s cell to the world of the lovers' dreams. These techniques do not, however,
convey a sense of the dreams as illusions but rather contribute to the seamless-
ness between dreams and reality in the film. This seamlessness was, for the Sur-

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Fig. 4: Mary (Ann Harding) beckons to Peter (Gary Cooper) to leave his prison cell and join her
in their shared dream in Peter Ibbetson.

realists at least; an exception among Hollywood films of drama as most dreams


in the popular films of the classical Hollywood period were differentiated clearly
from the "real" world of the films' diegesis. This distinction was upheld when
Hollywood appropriated Surrealism by inviting Salvador Dal to design dream
sequences for its films.

THE DALI DREAM SEQUENCES

Apart from his designs for the dream sequences in Spellbound (Alfred
Hitchcock, 1945) and Father of the Bride (Vincente Minnelli, 1951), Dal wro
a number of film scripts, from full scenarios to unorganized notes, that wer
either unrealized or were realized by others after Dali s death.57 Some of Dali
unrealized film projects could possibly have become dream films, but when h
was invited by Hollywood to design a Surrealist sequence, this almost invariab
had to be a dream inserted into an otherwise "realistic" narrative. In 1941
Dali was approached to design a three-minute nightmare sequence for a film,
Moontide, that Fritz Lang was to direct. The idea was to portray the hallucina-
tions of the principal character, an alcoholic dockworker, in whose nightmare
ordinary persons and objects were to metamorphose into fantastic creatures.

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Dal s proposal, which included skulls and bloody shark entrails, was not used
in the finished film. Lang was replaced by Archie Mayo who made the sequence
less frightening and perverse than that envisaged by Dal.58 Somewhat more of
Dali was retained in the sequence he designed for Spellbound.
The dream sequence in Spellbound has been termed "the heart of the film/'
even though it lasts only about two minutes.59 The film in general, and the
centrality of the dream in particular, reflects the widespread belief in psycho-
analysis in Hollywood, and in American society as a whole, following World
War II. Hitchcock appears to have taken a somewhat playful view of the role
of psychoanalysis in the films plot, and it was Hitchcock who urged Selznick
to commission Dal to design the dream sequence. Hitchcock wanted a hallu-
cinatory dream in Dali s style that would be entirely different from conventional
dream sequences of "swirling smoke, slightly out of focus with all the figures
walking through this mist."60 The symbols that Dal designed for the manifest
dream of Ballantyne (Gregory Peck) include huge eyes painted on drapes that
are cut through by giant scissors, metronomes with eyes painted on them, blank
playing cards, a misshapen wheel, and giant wings pursuing the hero-dreamer in
a twisted landscape. An image that was rejected by Hitchcock and not included
in the film had a statue of the heroine cracking with ants crawling out the
crevices. Constance (Ingrid Bergman), the heroine-psychiatrist, figures out the
meaning of the images that coincide point-by-point with real objects and events.
Her interpretation of the dream discovers the reason for the hero s amnesia; he had
witnessed a murdered victims plunge over a precipice and this sight had triggered
his repressed childhood memory of sliding down a slope and accidentally causing
the death of his brother by pushing him onto pointed railings (fig. 5). 61

Fig. 5: The beginning of the


dream sequence in Hitchcock's
Spellbound evokes the eye slitting
shot in Bunuels Un Chien andalou.

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American popular cinema appropriateci psychoanalysis in the 1940s and
early 1950s at about the same time as it appropriated Surrealism, and the two
came together in Spellbound . Just as Dali was brought in to design a Surrealist
dream framed by classical realism, Hollywood adopted Freudianism to celebrate
"normality" and "the triumph of the therapeutic."62 Constance evokes Freud
when discussing amnesia and the film follows Freud s view that what explained
dreams also explained neurotic symptoms, but the traumatic childhood event
in the film is remote from the infant s wishes, often of an incestuous nature, that
Freud believed are the cause for most psychological disorders. Andrew Britton
dismisses the purported Freudian reading of the dream provided by Constance
and suggests that the dream can be read in a way that is closer to Freud. Britton
considers the films presentation of the relationship between Ballantyne and
Constance as a whole in order to support an interpretation of the dream as
Oedipal. The man who falls to his death can be read as the father of Ballantyne
who flees in his dream from the implication that his desire for his mother can
now be consummated. A link between Constance and the forbidden woman
(the mother) explains Ballantyne s simultaneous feelings of desire and denial
and his hysterical breakdowns that occur during moments of sexual tension. In
this interpretation the symbols of the dream take on a different meaning from
those provided by Constance; a misshapen wheel that we are told stands for a
gun suggests a vagina.63
If the dream in Spellbound includes some wish-fulfillment (a scantily
clothed girl with a resemblance to Bergman who kisses everyone) within the
predominant expressions of anxiety, fear, and repressed memories, the dream
designed by Dal for Father of the Bride is exclusively one of anxiety.64 This dream,
however, expresses social anxiety rather than a life-and-death issue, lhe film is a
satire on the commodity culture and status insecurities of the middle to upper-
middle strata of the post-World War II period. The wedding is an event that has
the function of demonstrating status by a display of expensive items, including
the bride, and the father of the bride has to worry about how much the display
of status is costing him. lhe night after a chaotic rehearsal, the father dreams
that he arrives late at the church for the actual wedding. Huge eyes are super-
imposed over his attempt to walk down the aisle which is like rubber, springing
up and down. In torn clothes he slips, falls and sinks into the aisle, and the faces
of the guests expressing horror are superimposed over his attempt to reach the
alter (fig. 6). The horrified bride screams, and he wakes up from the nightmare.
Unlike the dream in Spellbound, the dream in Father of the Bride includes few
symbols and it does not require a psychoanalyst to interpret its meaning.
Dali s designs for the dreams in Spellbound and Father of the Bride contrib-
uted to the clear differentiation made in these films between the "surreality"
of dreams and the "reality" of waking life. The dreams in these films express
traumatic events (Spellbound) and social anxieties ( Father of the Bride), but they

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Fig. 6: The father s dream in Father of the Bride.

do so, using Freud s terms, through displacement, condensation, substitution,


and symbolic representation. The sharp divide in the films between reality and
dreams was in accord with Freud, but not with the Surrealists who, while they
appreciated Freud s work on the unconscious and dreams, were suspicious of
his emphasis on the super-ego.65 In the next section I consider how the distinc-
tion between dream and reality was made problematic by the characteristics of a
popular genre of classical Hollywood: the musical.

THE MUSICAL

More than any other genre, the musical may be said to transform reality
into an ideal, dream-world.66 Although entire musicals might be called dream-
worlds, the transformation from the real world to the dream world might be said
to occur when the characters in musicals break out in song and or dance. The
musical has been regarded as a special case within the classical narrative cinema
because of its "central contradiction between the discourse of the narrative and

the discourse of at least a significant portion of the musical numbers."67 Many


of the numbers are "impossible" from the standpoint of the realistic discourse
of the narrative, and Rubin suggests that a possible working definition of the

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musical "is a film containing a significant proportion of musical numbers that
are 'impossible' - that is, persistently contradictory in relation to the realistic
discourse of the narrative."68

This "impossibility" is particularly evident in the integrated musicals


in which song and dance are blended with the narrative and characters sing
and dance in even the most commonplace locations and circumstances, lhe
integrated form is compared with the aggregate form in which songs and dances,
filmed as if they were being performed on a stage, function as self-contained
highlights that interrupt the narrative. The aggregate form has been associated
with the backstage musical, although backstage musicals differ in the extent
to which they distinguish or integrate the numbers and the narrative. Even in
the integrated musicals, a musical number does not have the same relationship
to the surrounding narrative that a scene has in the narrative of a nonmusical
film: "The shift in discourse from spoken dialogue to performance that is sung
and/ or danced... insures that there will always be a certain amount of structural
autonomy for a musical number in relation to the narrative."69
Patricia Mellencamp has argued that it is precisely the "spectacle" (song and
dance numbers) in musicals that "awakens" the spectator to an awareness that
the events in the fictive narrative are not real. The performers of the musical
numbers break the norms of classical realism by acknowledging the presence
of the camera as a spectator, and the norms are broken further by the absence
of point-of-view shots from the performers' positions. Mellencamp draws upon
Christian Metz s general analogy between film and dream in order to make a
more specific analogy between the musical spectacle and the intermediary state
between sleep and waking when the dreamer thinks to himself that he is only
dreaming.70 Robert Eberwein proposes that, unlike most spectacles in musical
films, dream sequences in musicals might confirm a sense of reality because they
locate the source of the musical spectacle in the performer s mind.71 In other
words, the musical number is no longer "impossible" because it is a dream.
Dream numbers in musicals are set apart from other numbers, and a con-
sideration of their set-apartness requires prior consideration of the extent to
which the numbers in general are set apart from the world of the narrative and
the extent to which the film as a whole sets apart a fantasy world from a mundane
world. The world of the numbers and the world of the narrative were clearly com-
partmentalized in the Warner/Busby Berkeley musicals of the early 1930s, and
many of the numbers (not all) present a fantasy world of opulence in contrast
to the world of the characters, especially chorus girls, struggling to survive in
the Depression. Dream sequences were not a feature of the backstage musicals
because the numbers provided a sufficient remove from the "real" world of the
narrative. In the RKO/Astaire and Rogers films of the mid- and late- 1930s, the
greater homogeneity and continuity of the numbers and the narrative involved
making the musical numbers more natural and restrained and the world of

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the narrative more artificial and stylized.72 However, although the everyday
activities and environments of the Astaire-Rogers films were denaturalized, they
were not overtly presented within the films as fantasy worlds, thereby allowing
for a dream sequence, as in Carefree (Mark Sandrich, 1938), to be set apart from
the other numbers. The set for the dream sequence in Carefree, a fantasy garden
with enormous plants and a castle in the clouds, is patently artificial, and the
dance moves into slow motion that, unlike the other dances in the film, makes it
more like a ballet (fig. 7).
Some musicals make a clear distinction between a mundane world and a
fantasy world; between rural Kansas and the kingdom of Oz in The Wizard ofOz
(Victor Fleming, 1939), and midtown Manhattan and an out-of-time kingdom
in Scotland in Brigadoon (Vincente Minnelli, 1954). A song can be performed
in the real world ("Over the Rainbow"), but most of the numbers, and certainly
the most spectacular ones, occur in the fantasy world. The fantasy of Oz might
be considered as Dorothy s dream, but in general there is no place for dream
sequences in films in which the fantasy worlds are themselves like dream worlds.
It is true that the division of worlds is not complete (the same actors appear in
Kansas and Oz), and the opposition between the worlds may collapse at the
end (Brigadoon returns to life out of the force of Kelly s desire),73 but a distinct
fantasy world operates for most of the duration of the films. Other musicals, in
contrast, sustain a fantasy world throughout (Love Me Tonight, Yolanda and the
Thief, The Pirate ), narrowing both the division between the narrative and the
numbers and between dream numbers and other numbers.

A comparison of two musical films in which Rogers and Astaire did not
appear together, Lady in the Dark (Mitchell Leisen, 1944) with Rogers and
Yolanda and the Thief (Vincente Minnelli, 1945) with Astaire, highlights the
difference between a film in which dream spectacles are clearly set apart from
the film s diegetic frame and a film in which it is difficult to distinguish the dream
sequence from the "reality" of the rest of the film. In Lady in the Dark, Rogers
plays Liza, a fashion magazine editor who dresses in masculine-type suits and
reacts aggressively when a male employee, Charley (Ray Milland), challenges
her authority. Although at first reluctant, Lizas concern with her psychological
state leads her to sessions with a psychoanalyst who interprets her dreams and
traces her problems to her childhood relationships with her parents. All three
musical sequences in Lady in the Dark are dreams and are distinguished by
their stylized sets, their lavish dcor and costumes, the dominance of particular
colors, and the inclusion of fantasy figures alongside the transformed appearance
of protagonists from Lizas, the dreamer s, real world. In her third dream Liza
becomes a child who enters a fantasy circus with an audience of potato-shaped
heads of various colors and performers that include riders on artificial horses
and Munchkin-like people. As a child Liza sees herself as an adult ("How did I
get to be like that?") inside a cage and is accused by the ringmaster, Charley in

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Fig. 7: lhe dream musical
sequence in Carefree.

a glittering jacket and top hat; of not being able to make up her mind to marry.
Liza accepts her psychoanalyst s advice that she will only be happy with a man
who will dominate her and this turns out to be Charley to whom she offers a
partnership in the magazine and ends up kissing. The musical dream- extrava-
ganzas are part of the films popularized Freudianism that is used to discourage
women from placing careers above the traditional female roles. Although Raoul
Pene du Bois, the set and costume designer of the film, has been tagged as a
"surrealist"74 the contemporary reviewer who wrote that the film mixed Freud
and Disney was closer to the mark. The third dream sequence also evoked The
Wizard of Oz, which served to soften Lizas painful childhood memories that
arise in the dream.75

Vincente Minnelli, the director of Father of the Bride and Yolanda and the
Thief, admitted to the influence of Surrealism in his work. For the stage show
Ziegfeld Follies ofl 936, Minnelli claimed that he had presented the first Surrealist
ballet on Broadway, but his most ambitious use of surrealist imagery to convey
a character s feelings and to further the plot is found in the dream sequence in
Yolanda and the Thief Beth Genn writes that the influence of surrealist painters,
including Dal, is evident in Minnellis placing of fantastic rock formations
and frozen figures within the seemingly limitless space of the "dreamscape."76
However, not only the dream sequence but the entire film takes place in a fantasy
world with surrealist trappings. The fantasy setting of Patria, a country which
combines associations of both Latin America and the Swiss Alps, is accentuated
by the saturated colors of its landscape and buildings and the bizarre costumes
of its inhabitants. In this setting, Johnny (Astaire), a con man from America,
masquerades as the guardian angel of Yolanda (Lucille Brenner) and persuades
her to sign over her riches to him. The dream sequence, which is only one of
the extravagant musical sequences in the film, expresses Johnny s feelings of
confusion between his desire for Yolandas wealth and his growing affection

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for her. With its Daliesque decor, opulent sets, gorgeous costumes, brilliant
colors and Astaire s prowling, deliberate dancing, the dream sequence might
be considered to be set apart even within the extraordinary universe of Yolanda
and the Thief.77 However, unlike the discrete musical dream sequences in Lady
in the Dark , the narrative-number integration and overall surreal fantasy setting
of Yolanda function to dissolve the distinction between the dream sequence and
the films "reality." As Matthew Tinkcom has noted, the high level of narrative-
number integration in musicals of the Arthur Freed unit at MGM resulted in the
narrative portion of the films becoming more like the musical numbers, and, by
colonizing the films' narratives, the musical numbers appeared natural.78 As a
dream, this particular number in Yolanda might be said to deviate from the nar-
rative-number integration of the rest of the film, but as the dream is hardly less
"natural" than the films "reality," it is integrated into a close approximation of a
dream film. Perhaps for this reason, and unlike Lady in the Dark, which was a
commercial success, Yolanda was a commercial failure. One review warned that
Yolanda was "not for realists," Astaire explained that "the whole idea was too
much on the fantasy side," and Minnelli described it as "a fantasy film that just
didn't properly come off."79

CONCLUSION

As ideal, analytical types, dreams in films and dream films can be distin-
guished by three dimensions. Firstly, whereas dreams in films are placed within
a classical narrative framework and are subservient to that narrative, the dream
films subvert the rules of the classical narrative. Secondly, whereas dreams in
films are distinguished from their frameworks by special effects and/ or fantasy
settings, the dream film is filmed in an optically realistic style in commonplace
settings. Thirdly, whereas the dreams in films are represented as the subjectiv-
ity of a particular character, the dream films are represented as objective. Both
Surrealism and popular American cinema adopted those aspects of Freudian-
ism with which they found an elective affinity. Whereas Surrealism adopted
Freuds writings on dreams to celebrate the irrational, the uninhibited uncon-
scious and creative imagination, Hollywood adopted Freud s writings on dreams
to overcome neurosis and to return "maladjusted" protagonists to normality and
appropriate gender roles.
Surrealism and popular cinema also appropriated each other. The Surreal-
ists did not, for the most part, admire popular films with dream sequences ( Peter
Ibbetson was an exception), but they admired films of popular cinema, particu-
larly serials and comedies, that deviated in some way from classical narrative
and whose absurdities were placed in realist settings. But whereas the Surrealist
appropriation of popular cinema was for the most part limited to their written
discourse and a few paintings,80 Hollywood appropriated Surrealism within its

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films made in its realist style. Thus, Dali s contribution to dream sequences in
Hollywood films reinforced the presentational distinction between dream and
reality. Perhaps the closest approximation of Hollywood to Surrealist dream
films occurred in the musical genre, particular the number-narrative integra-
tion musicals in which the narrative was "colonized" by the musical numbers. In
certain fantasy musicals the distinction between a dream sequence and the rest
of the film was diffuse.

If Surrealism was appropriated by Hollywood, it was appropriated even


more so by analysts of classical and post-classical Hollywood. Certain directors
of classical Hollywood have been distinguished by their Surrealist "sensibil-
ities": Michael Richardson finds that the sensibilities of Frank Borzage, Josef
von Sternberg, and Tod Browning were in tune with Surrealism,81 and Barbara
Creed singles out Alfred Hitchcock as the first popular director to work in the
Surrealist mode.82 "Post-classical" directors believed to have been influenced
by Surrealism include David Lynch, David Cronenburg, Jim Jarmusch, and
the Coen brothers.83 The increase in films of horror, science fiction and fantasy
in recent decades has multiplied the number of films labeled as "Surrealist" or
believed to be directly or indirectly influenced by Surrealism.84 Much of this
popularization of the term "Surrealist" has been conducted without reference to
the dream. For the Surrealists of the 1920s and 1930s, the dream was subversive
of the polarities of the rational and the irrational, of the real and the illusory.
Perhaps the dream has lost its appeal as a model of subversion for a postmodern
aesthetic in which these boundaries have collapsed and the motifs of ambiguity
and formlessness prevail.

NOTES

1. Charles F. Altman, "Psychoanalysis and Cinema: The Imaginary Discourse," in Movies and
Methods, Volume 2, ed. Bill Nichols (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 517-531;

Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality (Princeton, NJ: Princeton

University Press, 1997 [i960]), 163-166; Susanne K. Langer, "A Note on the Film," in Philosophy

of Film and Motion Pictures : An Anthology, eds., Nol Carroll andjinhee Choi (Oxford: Blackwell),

79-81; F. E. Sparshott, "Vision and Dream in the Cinema," in ibid., 82-90; Colin McGinn, The
Power of Movies: How Screen and Mind Interact (New York: Vintage Books, 2005), 108-112,
168-169.

2. Nol Carroll andjinhee Choi, "Introduction," in Philosophy of Films and Motion Pictures, 58-60.
3. AFI Catalog of Feature Films, at AFI.com: Edison description.

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4. AFI Catalog, Biograph description.
5. The film is included on the DVD Edison: The Invention of the Movies (The Museum of Modern Art

and King Video).


6. Moving Picture World, 13 February 1909, 178.
7. Moving Picture World, 9 January 1 909, 46.
8. Moving Picture World, 26 June 1909, 881.
9. Moving Picture World, 22 May 1 909, 687.
10. Moving Picture World, 2 January 1909, 19.

1 1 . Moving Picture World, 1 0 April 1 909, 450.

1 2. Moving Picture World, 6 March 1 909, 269.

13. Moving Picture World, 6 February 1 909, 153.

14. Charlie Keil, Early American Cinema in Transition: Story, Style, and Filmmaking, 1907-1913
(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001), 72.
15. Motion Picture World, 21 August 1915, 1362.

16. Motion Picture World, 3 July 1915, 76-77.

17. Motion Picture World, 28 August 1915, 1495,


18. Motion Picture World, 18 September 1915, 2048, 2053.
1 9. Motion Picture World, 4 September 1716.

20. Motion Picture World, 24 July 1 9 1 5, 7 1 7.

2 1 . Motion Picture World, 28 August 1915, 1538.

22. From going through the issues in 1926 of Film Daily, I found dreams included in two cartoons,
six one or two-reel comedies, and two features, A Kiss for Cinderella (Paramount) and Hell 400

(Fox). Perhaps the most famous dream sequences in American films of the 1920s are in Keatons

Sherlock, Jr. (1924) and Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925).

23. Lydia Marinelli, "Screening Wish Theories: Dream Psychologies and Early Cinema," Science in
Context, 19.1 (2006), 87-110.
24. Andr Breton, Premier manifeste du surralisme (Paris: Gallimard, 1924), 24.

25. Andr Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane (Ann Arbor, MI:

University of Michigan Press, 1969), 14, 26.


26. Anna Balakian, Surrealism: The Road to the Absolute (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986),
126-128.

27. Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams (Ware, UK: Wordsworth Editions, 1997 [1900]);
Laura Marcus, "Introduction: Histories, Representations, Autobiographies," in Sigmund Freud's
The Interpretation of Dreams: New Interdisciplinary Essays (Manchester: Manchester University
Press, 1999), 1-65; Susan Budd, "The Shark Behind the Sofa: The Psychoanalytic Theory of
Dreams," History Workshop Journal 48 (1999): 133-150.

28. Budd, 136; John Matthews, Andr Breton: Sketch of an Early Portrait (Amsterdam: John Benjamins

Publishing, 1986), 92-102; Clifford Browder, Andr Breton: Arbiter of Surrealism (Geneva:
Librairie Droz, 1967), 65, 68, 90-91.

29. Richard Abel, "Exploring the Discursive Field of the Surrealist Scenario Text," in Dada and
Surrealist Film, ed. Rudolf E. Kuenzli (New York: Willis Locker & Owens, 1987), 58.

30. J.H. Matthews, Surrealism and Film (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1 97 1 ), 26.

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31. Matthews, 10. On the 1920s surrealists' association of dreams and cinema, see also: Ramona

Fotiade, "The Split Eye, the Scorpion and the Sign of the Cross: Surrealist Film Theory and
Practice Revisited," Screen 39.2 (1998): 109-123; Wendy Everett, "Screen as Threshold: The Dis-

orientating Topographies of Surrealist Film," Screen 39.2 (1998): 141-152.

32. Quoted by Haim Finkelstein, The Screen in Surrealist Art and Thought (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007),
26.

33. Jean Goudal, "Surrealism and Cinema," in The Shadow and its Shadow: Surrealist Writings on the

Cinema, ed. Paul Hammond (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2000), 87.
34. Goudal, 88.
35. Finkelstein, 282-283.
36. Jacques Brunius, "Crossing the Bridge," in Hammond, 1 00- 101.
37. Paul Hammond, "Available Light," in Hammond, 24.
38. Sandy Flitterman-Lewis, "The Image and the Spark: Dulac and Artaud Reviewed," in Dada and
Surrealist Film, ed. Rudolf E. Kuenzli (New York: Willis Locker & Owens, 1987), 118.

39. Flitterman-Lewis, 110-127. Ramona Fotiade presents a different interpretation of Artaud s


position. Fotiade argues that, unlike other Surrealists, Artaud was not committed to the corre-

spondence between film and dreams. For Artaud the cinema achieved a direct, immediate access

to things and expressed the powerlessness of thought. Ramona Fotiade, "Pictures of the Mind:
Artaud and Fondane s Silent Cinema," in Surrealism: Surrealist Visuality, ed. Silvano Levy (New
York: New York University Press, 1997), 109-124.

40. Raphalle Moine, "From Surrealist Cinema to Surrealism in Cinema: Does a Surrealist Genre
Exist in Film?" Yale French Studies 109 (2006): 101; Alexander Waters, Discerning a Surrealist
Cinema (M.Phil thesis, University of Birmingham, 201 1), 14.

41. Buuel filmed L'Age d'or without Dal s involvement but the film has been viewed as a collective

effort of the Surrealist group and a manifesto signed by thirteen Surrealists, including Dal, accom-

panied the films first screening. Buuel "resigned" from Surrealism in a letter sent to Breton on

6 May 1932. Michael Richardson, Surrealism and Cinema (Oxford: Berg, 2006), 28-29. The
manifesto is translated and reprinted in Hammond, 182-189.

42. Linda Williams, Figures of Desire: A Theory and Analysis of Surrealist Film (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1981), xiv.

43. Haim Finkelstein, "Dal and Un Chien andalou: The Nature of a Collaboration," in Kuenzli, Dada
and Surrealist Film, 130.

44. Williams, 49; Haim Finkelstein, The Collected Writings of Salvador Dal (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1998), 119-120.

45. Luis Buuel, My Last Sigh, trans. Abigail Israel (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
2003), 92, 103-104; Finkelstein, Salvador Dali's Art and Writings, 105.
46. J.H. Matthews, 96.
47. Buuel, 104.
48. Finkelstein, Collected Writings of Salvador Dali, 1 19-20.
49. Buuel, 104.
50. Francisco Aranda, Luis Buuel ; A Critical Biography (New York: Da Capo Press, 1976), 64. For
similar comments by Dal see Finkelstein, Collected Writings of Salvador Dal, 121-122.

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5 1 . J.H. Matthews, 9 1 .
52. Bunuel, 92.
53. Quoted in Robert T. Eberwein, Film and the Dream Screen : A Sleep and a Forgetting (Princeton, NJ :

Princeton University Press, 1984), 82.

54. Joan Mellen, "An Overview of Bunuels Career," in The World of Luis Buuel ; Essays in Cticism,
ed. Joan Mellen (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 5-6; J.H. Matthews, 172-174;
Leslie Halpern, Dreams on Film: The Cinematic Struggle Between Art and Science (Jefferson, N.C.:

McFarland & Company, 2003), 157, 161-162; Eberwein, 170-176, 182, 189; Bruce Babington
and Peter William Evans, "The Life of the Interior: Dreams in the Films of Luis Buuel," Critical

Quarterly IIA (1985): 5-20.


55. J.H. Matthews, 10-33; Hammond, "Available Light," 6, 21-22; Richardson, 21-25, 62-64; Ado
Kyrou, Le Surralisme au cinema (Paris: Arcanes, 1953), 68-71; Kruenzli, 8; Robin Walz, "Serial

Killings: Fantmas, Feuillade, and the Mass-Culture Genealogy of Surrealism," The Velvet Light

Trap, 37 (1996): 51-57; Finkelstein, Salvador Dal s Art and Writings, 83-84; Finkelstein, Collected

Writings of Salvador Dal, 140; Robert Short, "Magritte and the Cinema," in Levy, 95-108.

56. Andr Breton, L'Amour fou (Paris: Gallimard, 1937), 87-89.

57. Matthew Gale, Dal & Film (London: Tate Publishing, 2007); Elliot H. King, Dal, Surrealism and
Cinema (Harpenden, Herts: Kamera Books, 2007).
58. Irene Susan Fort, "Moontide 1941," in Gale, 164-173; King, 67-7 4.
59. Ken Mogg, The Alfred Hitchcock Story (London: Titan Books, 1999), 95.
60. James Bigwood, "Solving a Spellbound Puzzle," American Cinematographer 72 (June 1991): 35.
61. Leff, 157-159; Sara Cochran, "Spellbound," in Gale, 174-185; King, 74-87.
62. Contra to this trend, Freedman argues that Hitchcock's subsequent films were increasingly critical

of psychoanalysis and that his most subversive account is found in Vertigo. Jonathan Freedman,

"From Spellbound to Vertigo : Alfred Hitchcock and Therapeutic Culture in America," in Hitch-

cock's America, eds. Jonathan Freedman and Richard Millington (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1999), 77-98.
63. Andrew Britton, "Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound : Text and Countertext," in Britton on Film: The

Complete Film Criticism of Andrew Britton, ed. Barry Keith Grant (Detroit: Wayne State University

Press), 175-193.
64. The extent of Dali 's participation in the dream sequence for Father of the Bride is unclear. Cochran

writes that Dali was "not direcdy involved" in the film (Cochran, 184), whereas King writes that

the film was "the last Hollywood picture in which he [Dal] would directly contribute" (King, 93).

65. David Lomas, "Surrealism, Psychoanalysis and Hysteria," in Surrealism: Desire Unbound, ed.
Jennifer Mundy (London: Tate Publishing, 2001), 73.
66. Film noir, which is a "film movement" rather than a genre, has been compared to dream films:
"Noir films as a group are the only films in which the presentation of dreams is constandy identical

to the presentation of straight narrative action." Nicholas Christopher, Somewhere in the Night:

Film Noir and the American City (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997), 221. It is perhaps
for this reason that few film noirs have dream sequences. Dream sequences were redundant in a

genre in which the style of distortion and the feelings of claustrophobia, entrapment, and paranoia

were an integral part of the major diegesis. There were, however, a few exceptions. A dream is

prominent in Stranger on the Third Floor (Boris Ingster, 1940), considered by some as the first

88 STEPHEN SHAROT

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film noir, and The Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang, 1944) is a film noir in which almost the

entire film is a dream. In the latter case we learn only retroactively, at the end of the film, that the

narrative we have been watching is a dream of the major character. Perhaps in order to forestall any

suspicion that what we are seeing during most of the film is a dream, there is little of the expres-

sionist techniques characteristic of film noir.

67. Martin Rubin, Showstoppers; Busby Berkeley and the Tradition of Spectacle (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1993), 37.
68. Rubin, 37.
69. Rubin, 12.
70. Patricia Mellencamp, "Spectacle and Spectator: Looking Through the American Musical
Comedy," Cine-Tracts 1.2 (1977): 33-34; Christian Metz, "The Fiction Film and the Spectator: A
Metaphychological Study," New Literary History 8.1 (1976): 77.
71. Eberwein, 79-80.
72. Rubin, 40-41.
73. Jane Feuer, The Hollywood Musical (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 72-73.

74. Mari Jo Buhle, Feminism and Its Discontents: A Century of Struggle with Psychoanalysis (Cambridge,

MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), 166.

75. Glen O. Gabbard and Krin Gabbard, Psychiatry and the Cinema (Washington, DC: American Psy-
chiatric Press, 1999), 12.

76. Beth Genn, "Vincente Minnelli and the Film Ballet," in Vincente Minnelli: The Art of Entertain-
ment, ed. Joe McElhaney (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2009), 241.

77. Yolanda and the Thief is one of three Minnelli musicals that have been characterized as "a self-

conscious camp style of visual excess." Steven Cohan, Incongruous Entertainment: Camp, Cultural

Value, and the MGM Musical (Durham N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005), 50. Perhaps the camp

style in musicals, especially those made by the Arthur Freed unit at MGM, was particularly appro-

priate to the even greater visual excess of the dream sequences. On Yolanda and Brigadoon as
fantasy musicals see, Michael Dunne, American Film Musical Themes and Forms (Jefferson, N.C.:

McFarland & Company, 2004), 108-1 17.

78. Matthew Tinkcom, Working Like a Homosexual: Camp, Capital, Cinema (Durham: Duke
University Press, 2002), 62.

79. Marc Griffin, A Hundred Or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli
(Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2010), 101-102; Dunne, 114.
80. The influence of popular films to be found in the paintings of Magritte, especially Feuillades
serials, Fantdmas and Les Vampires, is discussed by Short, 99-103, and Finkelstein, The Screen in

Surrealist Art and Thought, 162-165.


81. Richardson, 66.
82. Barbara Creed, "The Untamed Eye and the Dark Side of Surrealism: Hitchcock, Lynch and
Cronenberg," in The Unsilvered Screen: Surrealism on Film, eds. Graeme Harper and Rob Stone
(London: Wallflower Press, 2007), 115
83. Richardson, 73-75; Creed, 119.
84. In addition to Halpern, Richardson, and the articles in Harper and Stone see Robert Short, The
Age of Gold: Surrealist Cinema (London: Creation Books, 2003).

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