The Sailors' Log
Day Dream Believer: Independent film explores dreams vs. realityThursday, March 29, 2007 By Allye Gaietto
It is a common experience to wake up and wonder if one is still dreaming. There are a few moments of confusion, followed by some self-induced pinches and possibly an intense questioning of anyone nearby. But for Stéphane Miroux, the main character in The Science of Sleep, he can barely tell the difference. His dream life is so intense that he practically lives there and visits reality when he feels it is necessary. Played by Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, this endearing character is the main focus of this artistic adventure. Originally titled La Science de Rêves, The Science of Sleep is not a film for those who hate subtitles. Director Michel Gondry (also known for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is French, and a good portion of the film is in his native language. Don’t worry, though – they do slip into English for majority of the time, along with a few lines in Spanish. This adds to the incredible dream-like effect of the movie. The plot follows Stéphane through a new job in Paris, where his mother lives. He was expecting a creative job designing calendars, but when things don’t turn out as he planned, he begins to take refuge in his dreams. Ever since he was younger, he would confuse dreams and reality, and it’s easy to see this happen when the story slips in and out of dream sequences as if they are real parts of the plot. Stéphane ends up falling for his new neighbor, Stéphanie, and a pursuit ensues. The dream scenes are incredible to behold and full of artistic mastery. There are roughly made stuffed animals that, through frame-by-frame filming, can fly. No “special” effects were used, per se, and everything that you see in the film was done as simply as possible. There are no green screens, no computer-animated characters. The props in the dream sequences were sewn by hand. One of the most amazing effects is when Stéphane is having a dream of flying. The effect is produced by placing the actor in a tank of water and having him swim while the image of the city is placed behind him with a projector. It is extremely surreal, but well done – you can’t really tell that he’s in water unless you know. I must warn you first, though – this movie is rated R for a reason. There is a lot of sexual content and some nudity, not to mention some strong language. If you can handle that, though, I strongly recommend you see this movie. It is definitely worth everyone’s time.