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Three scientists at the Foundation for Psychiatric Research fail to secure a device they've invented, the D.C. Mini, which allows people to record and watch their dreams. A thief uses the device to enter people's minds, when awake, and distract them with their own dreams and those of others. Chaos ensues. The trio - Chiba, Tokita, and Shima - assisted by a police inspector and by a sprite named Paprika must try to identify the thief as they ward off the thief's attacks on their own psyches. Dreams, reality, and the movies merge, while characters question the limits of science and the wisdom of Big Brother. Written by
Paprika isn't for the faint-hearted. Don't expect a story for children.
The story opens with a cop who's plagued by a recurring nightmare, so he seeks psychological help. If you've ever seen and enjoyed Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, it'll help you understanding what's going on in the film.
The cop forms a relationship with Paprika, a dream character who becomes his guide in helping him understand what happened in his past that makes him feel such shame in the present. Paprika assumes many forms in the everchanging dreamscape to relate to the other characters.
This seems all good at the beginning, but the device that enables dream analysis is stolen. This creates an even bigger problem than just nightmares; what happens when people can't control their dreams and has them hijacked by evil? Paprika isn't the easiest movie to sum up. On one level, it's like watching dreamy, fantastical animation, but there's also a deeper psychological question being asked: What is a dream exactly and to what extent does it affect your consciousness and waking life? How much fantasy is good for a person whether it be in dreams or spending time on the Internet? If you bury guilt and desire into your subconscious, how will it manifest in your dreams?
Paprika is definitely a visual spectacle. I don't recommend waiting to see it on video. I had the honor of catching it on the big screen, which I believe is necessary to capture the depth of the imagery. Parts of it really seemed like dreams I've had (times when I've tried to walk, but couldn't get anywhere and the harder I tried, the worse it got).
I put Paprika up there with Pan's Labyrinth. A lot of people will be turned off from it by the subtitles and another set of people will be lost by the mythology in it. If you don't have problems with these kinds of things, you will probably have a delightful viewing experience.
It takes a person with an analytical mind to put the plot together. If you follow the recurring images, the mythology will make sense. A lot happens on the screen. I didn't have a problem understanding what was going on and I enjoyed putting the puzzle together. I don't think most moviegoers are like that these days, so I can see them getting bored or annoyed because they can't figure out what's going on. If you prefer the Disney genre of animation, avoid Paprika, it will just frustrate you. If you're crave more than a simple plot, Paprika will satisfy that hunger.
The soundtrack is quite good too. It's a refreshing break from Elton John power ballads.
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