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What dreams may come

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

    To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause.
      Hamlet, Act 3, scene 1.
When Chris (Robin Williams), a children's doctor, is untimely parted from his beloved wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra), a brilliant painter, he enters a Heaven of his imagination, a paradise within one of Annie's magnificent landscape paintings. This painted world gives him some solace that they are still closely connected to each other but he is unfulfilled without her and on Earth Annie cannot endure life without Chris so she attempts to join him. Chris is advised of Annie's death but there is no hope of them being reunited as suicides go to hell. Undeterred, he enlists the wisdom of The Tracker and embarks on an epic odyssey through Heaven and Hell to free Annie.

Persons of interest

  • Robin Williams .... Chris Nielsen
  • Cuba Gooding Jr .... Albert Lewis
  • Annabella Sciorra .... Annie Collins-Nielsen
  • Max von Sydow .... The Tracker
  • Jessica Brooks Grant .... Marie Nielsen
  • Josh Paddock .... Ian Nielsen
  • Rosalind Chao .... Leona
  • Lucinda Jenney .... Mrs Jacobs
  • Maggie McCarthy .... Stacey Jacobs
  • Wilma Bonet .... Angie
  • Matt Salinger .... Reverend Hanley
  • Carin Sprague .... Cindy
  • Werner Herzog .... Face
  • Clara Thomas .... Little Girl at Lake
  • Benjamin Brock .... Little Boy at Lake
  • Richard Matheson .... Author
  • Ronald Bass .... Screenwriter
  • Vincent Ward .... Director

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Too much.

I am a strongly visual bloke, finding beauty in the most unlikely of places, and the imagery in What dreams may come is so intense and often so beautiful that he was having a beauty overdose every five minutes. For those who thought that Jurassic park did some pretty amazing things with computer-generated special effects, you ain't seen nothin' yet! Vincent takes us on a stunning tour through Earth, Heaven and Hell that makes dinosaurs seem like a bunch of kids' toys.

The story is delightfully painful, with more deaths per frame of film than you can shake a stick at. (I am a firm believer in taking stories and characters to their very limits, then going further. Who wants to see a film about ordinary people doing nothing much at all? Death is good.) What is not so enjoyable is the structure of the story, with continued flashbacks and switches from here to there. It is not so much linear as it is a tangled knot. Which is not to say that it's bad, but that it's difficult to watch.

Robin is surprisingly good as the live and dead hero: there were times when I looked into his eyes and believed utterly what I saw there. (For the uninitiated, I am a cynic who, although willing to suspend my disbelief, is always aware that I am doing so.) Likewise Annabella, who had a slightly more difficult job of acting with someone who was dead. Their intensity and vulnerability lifted this film from a mere visual extravaganza to something worth watching. Cuba and Max were limited by their roles as stimuli for the protagonist (all that Year 10 English wasn't a complete waste of time), but they played those parts well enough.

My major complaint (and it is about the only one) is that the film was too long. There could've been a little less lingering on the beauty of the images (stunning though they were) and a little bit of tightening up here and there. Slicing off (no less than) fifteen minutes would jolly things along just right. But if you are the least bit interested in art, imagery, romance, heaven or hell, then I can certainly recommend What dreams may come.

Security censorship classification

M (Adult themes, low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

113 minutes (1:53 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD retail: Undated August 2000

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