An experimental film shot for $25,000 in a Manhattan loft. It opened in New York in March, 1947 and went on to win the Venice Film Festival Award for the best original contribution to the progress of cinematography. See more »
(singing on soundtrack):
Oh Venus was born out of sea-foam / oh Venus was born out of brine / but a girl of today / if she is grade A / is assembled upon the assembly line
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Hans Richter and some of his friends in the old time surreal avant-garde gang; Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Max Ernst, decide to get together and direct a surprisingly accessible (for these guys this is Oceans 11), film about a man who sets up a business selling dreams to people, who cant' have any of there own. After all, as our narrator Joe, informs us, "If you can look inside yourself, other people shouldn't be any problem".
Assorted "characters" come into the Dream shop, a gangster, a repressed banker, an overzealous pamphleteer, a blind man, a bored housewife, etc, and all are given dreams, each one directed by a different surrealist; Ernst, Duchamp, Ray, etc. Which alternately, delight, offend, disturb, and annoy there patrons.
In that respect it's a little like an anthology film, with each dream, a story in the story, the best of which is a satire of conventional(1940's) relationships, staring two mannequins who fall in love and get married. It's a surprisingly charming and funny little feminist music video (I want the soundtrack, just for this sequence). Though the rest of the music is handled by experimental composer John Cage, who gives the film both a traditional comedic tone and one of ambiguous drones and general avant-garishness.
The narrative of the framing tale, that is the story of Joe, owner and dream weaver of the business, is also distinct in that, none of the characters mouths move, and when dialog does take place on screen it comes as voice over, usually with one characters monologues followed by the others...most of which is spoken in a kind of Beat style rhyming (this is also a decade before any of the big Beat writers Keroac, Ginsberg, etc, start publishing.). That though a bit silly at first, actually enriches the story, really quite beyond, any individual dream sequence.
If you like early avant-garde films or the artists involved, this is an absolute must see, but if your also just interested in early comic fantasy, stories about dreams, poetry, or just watching something visually different, that doesn't just dismiss narrative as a nuisance, it's worth the price of admission. Few films see the relationship of dream, cinema, and audience this clearly or distantly.
It's the feel good avant-garde comedy of the 40s! If only it would get released on DVD already...
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