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Released in Australia under the much more descriptive (and apt) title "Dream One", this movie has been at my top 3 or 4 since I saw it back in about 1993. So much did I like it I hunted for, and finally found, an ex-rental VHS, which was in not very good condition. I dreaded each time I played it, it would be the last ...
Until, almost by sheer accident I saw the DVD in a shop. Pow.
Like a really good dream, it all seems to make some kind of sense at the time, but in the cold light of day, there is nothing left but bewilderment, and a longing to "go back" into that safe and secure land, where there are no questions, only comforting answers.
A type of "coming of age" experience where the man-child Nemo (Seth Kibel) is precipitated, via a faulty elevator in his home skyscraper, into a nether world where in the daytime, it is always twilight, and at night you can hear the stars roar. No sunshine, just red and blue light, outlining without necessarily illuminating. (In a nod to "The Wizard of Oz" the film format changes from blue and white to amazing colour.)
He discovers, as every boy would dream, a submarine beached and apparently deserted. He meets Cunegond (Charlie Boorman), a rather graceless young twerp who is just as lost as Nemo but won't admit to any weakness, and has a "pet" human sized monkey named ... "Monkey" (Dominique Pinon). Nemo rescues a beautiful young woman named Alice (Mathilda May), Princess of Yonderland, from the ocean, and falls in love with her (as any man-child would).
In the ensuing adventures he encounters the Magician, Mr Rip (Nipsy Russell), Legend (Harvey Kietel) a Zorro-like hero, and eventually a rocket ship, piloted by the mysterious Rals-Akrai (the aethereal Carole Bouquet). He is so much in love with Alice he tries to grow up and eventually become the child-man (Jason Connery).
Other characters, fusions of Nemo's real world and this dream unter-land come and go, in an almost ballet-masque fashion (Observe Rals-Akrai as she converses with world-weary Count Danilov (Michel Blanc) on the steps of the rocket ship.)
Unlike a dream, this movie can be returned to at any time, and even after a decade of viewing (usually every 2-3 months) it still induces a delicious sense of languorous ease.
The soundtrack (Gabriel Yared) is a perfect complement.
Don't try and understand this frankly surreal movie, just allow it to wash gently over you, and enjoy the sensual and sensuous experience, with its erotic undertones.
Mathilda May, you can enter into my dreams any time.
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