Three Films For Fantastical Dreams.
Updated: May 15
Today's 'The Love List.' A cinematic special!
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Be prepared to lose yourself in these visual delights. Soon after they finish, you'll be
wondering whether you've dreamed it all or not...
Exploring other Worlds from the comfort of your own home...
Thank goodness for cinema. Past mistakes and future worries fade away when you’re immersed in a good film. The only thing that matters is what is happening on screen. Will the plucky heroine overcome her troubles? Will the lost lovers finally reunite after 30 years apart? The act of putting on your favourite romcom, drama, or horror is a simple ritual that will never lose its appeal.
Film has always been one of my favourite narrative mediums. When I don’t have the attention span to concentrate on a book, don’t want to mash buttons in a video game, and don't want to fall into the trap of binging a TV series, watching a movie is the perfect middle-ground.
Some films mesmerise me more than others. I've noticed that there is a particular visual style I am drawn to time and time again.
Lately, I have been inspired by anything light and ethereal. Moreso when there are elements of dream, fantasy, or surrealism involved. Right now I'm not craving a straightforward drama, nor anything too grounded in the real world. (I will not be surprised if that is influenced by our collective lockdown anxieties.)
This doesn't mean the film should not have any darkness in it. I find that the eeriest moments happen in the light of day and under the illusion of safety.
Listed below are three titles that fulfill this criteria. Projects where the directors are skilled at blurring the lines between dream and reality; truth and fiction. These are films made for the sleepwalkers and daydreamers.
Valerie and her Week of Wonders. 1970.
Want to watch a psychosexual fairy tale with vampires, magical pearl earrings and, um, a sinister polecat? Forget Alice in Wonderland, Jaromil Jireš' Valerie and her Week of Wonders is a surreal Czech adventure that’ll make your head spin.
The magic frames:
Valerie is a adaptation of a novella by Czech writer Vítězslav Nezval. Having read the book, I have to admit that the film does a better job at depicting a strange, fantasy world. One with a supernatural darkness lurking in the underbelly of a small town.
Jireš' visuals weave together a phantasmagorical narrative. There is an angelic use of light, gentle colours contrasted with darker tones, and trance-like sequences which cast a spell on the viewer - be it Valerie floating around in a lily-pad filled pond or townspeople parading the streets for a marriage ceremony.
Watch Valerie for a deformed fairy-tale that'll tickle the depths of your subconscious mind. (And to hear an incredible soundtrack by Luboš Fišer!)
Short Pick Clip:
Two sisters. Klara and Viktoria. The former is beautiful and kind; the latter is homely-looking and cruel. Juraj Herz’s gothic tale follows Viktoria's heartless plot to poison the sweeter sister that fills her heart with jealousy.
The magic frames:
There is one scene that stood out to me. Early in the film, the screen switches to the first person perspective of the house cat - who is aptly named Morgiana. The camera jumps and spins. It sweeps around the floor and then leaps onto the 19th century living room table. A topsy-turvy camera technique that best summarises the fantastical feel of this film.
Don't be fooled by the elaborate set-pieces or frilly costumes. This is a gothic tale. It's fitting that the little black cat takes a liking to the crueler sister Viktoria. Like the cat, you sit and watch the narrative unfold. You know about the sinister poison plot but are powerless to stop it. You can only hope that the sweeter sister somehow notices the evil lurking in plain sight.
If you want to take a deep dive into your darkest fantasies, Morgiana is the hallucinatory film to go for.
Short Clip Pick:
Picnic at Hanging Rock. 1975.
What mysterious forces lurk at Hanging Rock? A towering rock formation located in Victoria, Australia. Peter Weir's film, Picnic at Hanging Rock, tells the tale of a small group of late Victorian school girls that mysteriously disappear within its crevices.
The magic frames:
Be sure to watch Picnic at Hanging Rock if you want to see a masterful juxtaposition between man and nature. Set in a colonised Australia in 1900, the oppressive standards of 'prim and proper' society is put to the test.
The boarding school girls standout against the backdrop of the huge rock formation. Their long skirts brush against the outback dust, and their fully-covered bodies seem restrictive under the sweltering sun. Having a Valentines Day picnic at Hanging Rock is no easy feat either. Soon after they cut open the pink-frosted cake, a horde of ants crawl over the sugary treat. Nature prevails.
Halfway through the film there is an ethereal montage that is impossible to forget. It perfectly depicts the allure of the rock as a few of the girls descend into its core. Watch this movie for an otherworldly experience.
Short Clip Pick:
I hope these films have tickled your imagination.
It's nice not to write about fashion all the time. Allthough, these films act as some great style inspiration for the coming spring and summer months.
If you've seen one of these films already, I'd love to hear what you think about them. Leave a comment below.
Sharing this post is a great way for others to find out about these gems too.
Till next time,