Beyond "Inception": Best on-screen dreams

Slide show: From "8 1/2" to "The Sopranos," the films and TV shows that captured the magic of our subconscious


Matt Zoller Seitz
July 17, 2010 5:01AM (UTC)

Listen to the color of your dreams.

It is not living.

It is not living.

-- "Tomorrow Never Knows," The Beatles

We're about to enter dreamland by way of movies and TV -- a bit of terrain staked out grandiosely this weekend by Christopher Nolan's "Inception," a film that's been described as a heist thriller occurring in a man's subconscious. Since film language itself is modeled on dreams, there's no way a list built around this topic could hope to be comprehensive. And considering how peculiar dreams can be (no two people's are alike) it would be pointless to rank these titles in terms of how well they represent the deepest imaginative stirrings. (How many times have you watched a dream sequence in a film and complained, "I've never had a dream remotely like that," only to have a friend reply, "I have them all the time"?)

So consider this a list of notable (in some cases influential) films and TV shows about dreams: art that explores what dreams look and feel like, what they say about individuals and society, and perhaps most of all, their kinship to moving pictures, a medium that has been described as either truth or lies at 24 frames per second, depending on which auteur you ask. And as always, please share your own favorite titles in the "Comments" section. There's always room for one more dream.

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