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View Full Version : "It was all just a dream!" AAARGH! (spoilers)


Otto
03-25-2007, 05:48 PM
So I'm watching Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla last night and just as it's approaching the thrilling climax, WHAM! I'm blindsided by my least favorite movie ending ever, one of the characters wakes up to realize that everything that just "happened" didn't really happen, that it was all a dream. Does anyone else hate that out as much as I do? In most cases I find it a cop out at best and an insult at worst. We the audience have spent the time and energy investing in the characters and the situation only to learn at close to the last minute that noe of that investment of time or thought meant anything because the characters weren't really even going through it to begin with. Yeah, I get that it's fiction and they aren't really going through it anyway, but it still pisses me off, like the writers couldn't be arsed to come up with an actual end so they just have someone wake up.

Another example that truly cheesed me was The Woman in the Window Edward G Robinson as a criminology professor who gets involved in covering up a murder only to have the police consult him on the case and start leading himself to himself as a suspect. Except, oops, it was all just a fantasy that he had while staring at a painting in a window. Bastards.

There are times, though, when it doesn't bother me, probably because it's understood up front that what's following is or at least is likely a dream. The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and The Pirate Movie don't bother me despite being extended dream sequences, because in all three there are early indications (TWOO and TPM the lead character is knocked out on-screen, AIW talks about how Alice is drowsy). And on TV, the series finale of "Newhart" was genius. But for the most part the convention is truly irritating.

Got other examples, especially well-known films that I might want to see but would now know to avoid because of this horrible device? Not films or TV shows with well-deliniated dream sequences but where the events of the entire film are invalidated by the "it was just a dream" bit?

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
03-25-2007, 05:55 PM
In the 1930s, one of the story lines in the "Amos 'n' Andy" radio serial involved Amos being charged with murder. The resolution was that it had been a dream.

Bobotheoptimist
03-25-2007, 05:55 PM
Never made it to the big screen, but 1989-1992 (inclusive) may have been a dream.

RealityChuck
03-25-2007, 06:05 PM
It's considered very bad form -- the lamest possible ending -- and writers are usually advised to avoid it. I remember once in a writing group where someone was reading from an ongoing story. She stopped before the end and we asked if she had an end to it. Yup, it was going to be a dream. The disapproval from the group was such that she never returned.

It's bad for all the reasons Otto mentions. While some older works like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz can be grandfathered in, no one writing today would ever get a story with that ending published (without changing it).

The last time I saw it was in a John Varley story, and the character apologized profusely for it.

AFAIK, there was only one instance when it was really effective, in Henry James's The Great Good Place (http://www2.newpaltz.edu/~hathawar/goodplace.html), where the point is that the happiness shown couldn't exist in reality.

pinkfreud
03-25-2007, 06:07 PM
Either all or most of the events in Vanilla Sky are dreams. The movie is such an annoying mess that I'm not sure, nor do I care.

jayjay
03-25-2007, 06:09 PM
Of course, there's the infamous 1985-86 season of Dallas, which was ALL a dream...

NDP
03-25-2007, 06:25 PM
Obligatory reference to a Monty Python sketch:

Mother Come on, dear. Wake up dear.
Pither Mother!
Mother Come on dear.
Pither So, it was all a dream.
Mother No dear, this is the dream, you're still in the cell.
Cut to Pither waking up in the cell.

IvoryTowerDenizen
03-25-2007, 07:09 PM
Spoiler alert...







The Twilight Zone had an episode in which we discover that the Earth is rapidly moving toward the sun and everyone is heading North to stay out the fatal heat for as long as possible. At the end we learn that this catastrophe is the fever induced dream of a young woman. The Earth is not falling towrds the sun... it is moving away from the sun and is becoming ice cold!

mobo85
03-25-2007, 07:18 PM
The final episode of Saint Elsewhere revealed that the entire series was a dream made up by a young autistic boy. As the article linked in my sig suggests, there's a possibility that, based on crossovers and references, etc., every single show on television is part of this young boy's dream.

Of course, there's a similar type of ending which could be described as "it was all a dream...OR WAS IT?" which is sometimes parodied in movies and TV shows by having a character wake up from multiple dream-within-a-dreams one after another.

Otto
03-25-2007, 07:29 PM
Of course, there's the infamous 1985-86 season of Dallas, which was ALL a dream...
Which was compounded in its stupidity by the fact that on Dallas's spin-off show, Knot's Landing, Bobby stayed dead.

Thudlow Boink
03-25-2007, 07:38 PM
In Frank Baum's book, The Wizard of Oz was not all just a dream. That they made it so in the movie is just one of many changes that bother me about the movie.


You know what I hate? Dream sequences in fiction. Almost always they're just self-indulgence on the part of the author. If we don't know as we're reading them that someone's dreaming, they're lame for the reasons already explained in this thread. They're a cheap way for the author to play the "Ha ha, gotcha" game, to get a cheap reaction out of us without having anything happen for real to justify it.

But even if we know all along that what we're seeing is a dream, I still don't like 'em. 97 times out of a hundred, they're just the author showing off, getting all surreal and symbolicky and crap. If they don't advance the story, they're a waste of time. And if they do advance the story or reveal something significant, they piss me off because I never have dreams that Mean Something or reveal something significant, so I don't believe in such things when they happen in fiction.

alphaboi867
03-25-2007, 07:55 PM
Married with Children turned Peggy and Marcie's pregnancies into a nightmere of Al's. Katey Sagal was pregnant in real life and the writers wrote it into the show. Sagal then suffered a miscarriage. She was willing to continue with the arc and were a prosthetic, but the writers didn't want to put her through that and dreamed away the entire storyline.

FriarTed
03-25-2007, 09:24 PM
You know what I hate? Dream sequences in fiction. Almost always they're just self-indulgence on the part of the author.

Have you seen the Steve Buscemi film where he's directing a dream sequence & brings in a dwarf, who then goes into a rant about how every movie dream sequence now has to have a dwarf, and who dreams about dwarves anyway because he's a dwarf and even he doesn't dream about dwarves?

FriarTed
03-25-2007, 09:26 PM
By the way, to the OP- the last novel in Christopher Pike's THE LAST VAMPIRE series... and of all things, he makes it work!

susan
03-25-2007, 09:33 PM
In Frank Baum's book, The Wizard of Oz was not all just a dream. That they made it so in the movie is just one of many changes that bother me about the movie.I am so with you on this one. What a cheat!

River Hippie
03-25-2007, 09:34 PM
Have you seen the Steve Buscemi film where he's directing a dream sequence & brings in a dwarf, who then goes into a rant about how every movie dream sequence now has to have a dwarf, and who dreams about dwarves anyway because he's a dwarf and even he doesn't dream about dwarves?

Living In Oblivion (http://imdb.com/title/tt0113677/)

Great flic, funny!

Ferret Herder
03-25-2007, 11:17 PM
It's not all a dream, but the ending of Brazil was... his happy ending where he saves the girl and they run away to the country turns out to be a dream induced by the psychosurgery he's undergone to reprogram him into a humming, drooling idiot. It works, and in an odd way, after everything he's been through, that's pretty much what passes for a happy ending for him.

Czarcasm
03-25-2007, 11:29 PM
Am I the only person in the world who hated Jacob's Ladder (http://imdb.com/title/tt0099871/) for that reason?

Critical1
03-25-2007, 11:51 PM
Am I the only person in the world who hated Jacob's Ladder (http://imdb.com/title/tt0099871/) for that reason?


Jacobs ladder wasnt so much a dream sequence as him seeing his life and what could have been his life while he was dying. I love that movie.

and if you need a flick to put on with no sound that will creep the hell out of everyone then thats your winner. (used it at a halloween party like that)

Tuckerfan
03-26-2007, 12:02 AM
An Occurance at Owl Creek tells the story of a Confederate soldier who escapes the hangman's noose, travels back home, only to discover that it's all a hallucination as his neck snaps in the noose.

Family Guy did a brilliant spoof of the Dallas fiasco. The Y2K bug causes nuclear weapons to be launched all over the world. Peter and the family survive (Stewie, however, is turned into half an octopus) and at the end, Victoria Principal wakes up to find Patrick Duffy in the shower. She bursts into tears and begins to explain everything that happened in the episode, Duffy calms her down and then says, "What's 'Family Guy'?"

ArizonaTeach
03-26-2007, 12:48 AM
I remain firm in my belief that the events in Total Recall were, in fact, a dream, and as I look at the Wikipedia article, I see that my suspicions were correct.

Askance
03-26-2007, 01:11 AM
An Occurance at Owl Creek tells the story of a Confederate soldier who escapes the hangman's noose, travels back home, only to discover that it's all a hallucination as his neck snaps in the noose.Also used to memorable effect in Donnie Darko.

CalMeacham
03-26-2007, 08:42 AM
I didn't mind it in Total Recall, because it wasn't sprung on you at the end -- thet pretty clearly suggested it throught the film.


I'm annoyed by it in the work of Philip K. Dick, where confusion over reality and unreality abounds -- even more broadly in the movies than in the books. Total Recall is an exception, in that they did it in a non-anoying way, but it bugs me that so many people are convinced that inority Report is completely a dream fromthe time Tom Cruidse's character goes into the tank. It's a possibility, I'll admit, but if that was the filmmmaker's intent it was neither prepared for nor elaborated on, and doesn't add a damned thing to the film if it's true (and isn't at all in Dick's original story.)




I liked it in the underappreciated Return to Oz, where you do expect it because of the 1939 Wizard of Oz film. Again, it's not in the book, but it ties this film to the earlier one.

Sir Prize
03-26-2007, 09:19 AM
Which was compounded in its stupidity by the fact that on Dallas's spin-off show, Knot's Landing, Bobby stayed dead.Actually, I think that that is pretty cool. Why should they change their continuity to match Dallas?

Otto
03-26-2007, 09:21 AM
Actually, I think that that is pretty cool. Why should they change their continuity to match Dallas?
I meant that Dallas was compounded in its stupidity. Knot's Landing was plenty stupid enough on its own.

Mangetout
03-26-2007, 09:26 AM
Back when I was in secondary school (and this was before Dallas made such a mockery of the idea), my English teacher told us all that it would be an instant zero mark if anyone ever handed in a short story that ended '...and I woke up, and it was all just a dream!' - so it was corny even back then.

E-Sabbath
03-26-2007, 09:29 AM
Used well: Series finale, Newhart. Sometimes, it works.

Loach
03-26-2007, 09:36 AM
It's not all a dream, but the ending of Brazil was... his happy ending where he saves the girl and they run away to the country turns out to be a dream induced by the psychosurgery he's undergone to reprogram him into a humming, drooling idiot. It works, and in an odd way, after everything he's been through, that's pretty much what passes for a happy ending for him.

How do you know it wasn't all a dream? Go back and watch it and try and pinpoint where exactly reality ends. Then repeat until your head explodes.

jayjay
03-26-2007, 10:08 AM
Actually, I think that that is pretty cool. Why should they change their continuity to match Dallas?

It was actually a case of the KL team being so pissed at the Dallas team for doing it in the first place that this was the point where all association between the shows ended. Knots Landing was a spinoff of Dallas, following the other Ewing brother to the titular California cul-de-sac. KL spun a LOT of plot in the 1985-86 season on Bobby's death, and the Dallas team never told them what it was doing as far as bringing him back (hell, Victoria Principal didn't even know what she was opening the shower door on until the ep aired...Patrick Duffy was inserted into the scene through editing). The only thing KL COULD do was ignore the "resurrection" unless they wanted to discount their entire 85-86 season.

After that point, the only continuity the two shows shared was that a couple of people on KL were named Ewing.

MovieMogul
03-26-2007, 04:06 PM
It's not all a dream, but the ending of Brazil was... his happy ending where he saves the girl and they run away to the country turns out to be a dream induced by the psychosurgery he's undergone to reprogram him into a humming, drooling idiot. It works, and in an odd way, after everything he's been through, that's pretty much what passes for a happy ending for him.Actually, the trance is self-induced by Lowry. They never even get to do anything invasive, IIRC, because he's already lost in the world of his own making (as a defense mechanism against the torture he knows is coming his way).

Astroboy14
03-26-2007, 04:45 PM
I am going to be so pissed if the ending of Lost pulls this! (The wife and I received season 1 on DVD as a gift, and we got hooked. We recently finished season 2, and are waiting for season 3 to come out on DVD so we can get caught up.)

ZipperJJ
03-26-2007, 05:09 PM
I was just going to say what Astroboy14 said - I think a lot of Lost fans have this disappointing ending in the back of their minds.

Clothahump
03-26-2007, 05:27 PM
I am going to be so pissed if the ending of Lost pulls this! (The wife and I received season 1 on DVD as a gift, and we got hooked. We recently finished season 2, and are waiting for season 3 to come out on DVD so we can get caught up.)

I watched the first season and a couple of shows of the second. SWMBO watches it avidly and tries to keep me posted on what is happening. Both of us agree that the show has gone so far out in the weeds that they only way they can salvage it is to have a dream ending. Probably a mass, shared hallucination by everyone on the plane three seconds before impact, or something like that.

mobo85
03-26-2007, 06:30 PM
I recall reading an interview with the creators of Lost where they said they weren't going to pull a St. Elsewhere. Of course, one wonders if they already have the solution already plotted out.

kaylasdad99
03-26-2007, 06:35 PM
Isn't that the way every season of 24 has ended so far?

Don Draper
03-26-2007, 06:46 PM
An interesting twist on this theme happened in the 1950s alien-invasion-with-a-cold-war-subtext film Invaders From Mars (http://imdb.com/title/tt0045917/) (which is so old & well-known that I'm not going to bother with spoiler tags).

In it, a young boy sees a UFO land in the hills behind his house late one night. Then, neighborhood folks (including his own parents) are replaced by dopplegangers (a la "Invasion of the Body Snatchers") and commit acts of sabotage against the nearby US space base. The end of the movie has him waking up, and his once-again normal parents assuring him it was all just a dream. But then...the boy looks out his window once again and sees the UFO land in the hills. Fade out. So, it was all just a dream...or was it???

Annie-Xmas
03-27-2007, 08:21 AM
What about the finale of the Newhart show? Was that a brillant use of a dream ending?

CalMeacham
03-27-2007, 08:46 AM
One possible interpretation by a friend of mine intrigues me.

He suggested that all of the series The Prisoner actually took place in No. 6's mind. He theorized that Drake (or whoever he was supposed to be) had been asked by his superiors to do something that he couldn't do because it condflicted with his code of ethics, and the only way his mind could resolve it was to retreat into itself. Not exactly "a dream", but at least "All in his head".

It explains all the weirdness in the show, and especially the last epsodes.

anyrose
03-27-2007, 08:57 AM
Patrick Duffy was on the Tonight Show and told Johnny Carson that the Dallas theme had lyrics, and he sang:
"I'm back
I'm wet.
It was all just a dream"
which synchs perfectly with the opening 4 bars of the music

JohnT
03-27-2007, 10:32 AM
There was the episode of Buffy that had, as its premise, the possibility that the Buffyverse was a creation of a possibly insane teenage girl.

I hated it. One of my least favorite episodes ever.

Wee Bairn
03-27-2007, 10:55 AM
MAJOR spoilers below:







There is one example at least of a movie where the device is used where not only does it not ruin the film, but I was actually glad it happened, because otherwise our hero, Edward G. Robinson, is fucked. Directed by the genius Fritz Lang, The Woman in the Window (http://imdb.com/title/tt0037469/) is worth catching on TCM- one of his best, though highly obscure.

randwill
03-27-2007, 11:07 AM
There is one example at least of a movie where the device is used where not only does it not ruin the film, but I was actually glad it happened, because otherwise our hero, Edward G. Robinson, is fucked. Directed by the genius Fritz Lang, The Woman in the Window (http://imdb.com/title/tt0037469/) is worth catching on TCM- one of his best, though highly obscure. Not so obscure as to be mentioned in the original post.

CalMeacham
03-27-2007, 11:26 AM
Another case where It All Happened in His Mind was the original silent the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. One of the people wjho hated this was the director himself, who had this "resolution" thrust unwanted upon him by the studio.

Wee Bairn
03-27-2007, 11:29 AM
Not so obscure as to be mentioned in the original post.

I'm an idiot :smack:

Otto
03-27-2007, 12:29 PM
I'm an idiot :smack:
Maybe we're all just dreaming that you're an idiot.

Tamerlane
03-27-2007, 01:02 PM
I hated it. One of my least favorite episodes ever.

Loved it :D. Would have adored it, if it had been the finale. But by then I was growing a little annoyed both with the show AND some of its more overamped fans ( of which I knew many ), so that may have colored my reaction ;).

- Tamerlane

mobo85
03-27-2007, 01:19 PM
There was the episode of Buffy that had, as its premise, the possibility that the Buffyverse was a creation of a possibly insane teenage girl.

Based on my Wikipedia research, isn't that girl

Buffy herself?

JohnT
03-27-2007, 02:39 PM
Yeah, but I wanted to be subtle w/o having to resort to

spoiler boxes.

;)

JohnT
03-27-2007, 02:41 PM
Loved it :D. Would have adored it, if it had been the finale. But by then I was growing a little annoyed both with the show AND some of its more overamped fans ( of which I knew many ), so that may have colored my reaction ;).

- Tamerlane

I would've been so pissed off it would've immediately (and likely, forever) replaced the X-Files final episode as "Worst Final Episode Ever, And I Mean EVER!"

drillrod
03-27-2007, 04:15 PM
I've posted this before, but you brought it up.......

Not that it would have been a good movie with a different ending, but I proffer Boxing Helena. It had an original premise which lead to an unexpected, if abhorrent, conclusion when, BAM! It's just a dream and your antagonist is just a pitiful piece of crap with a disgusting fantasy life.

If you want to make a morally repugnant movie, at least have the stones to stick to your guns.

Bytegeist
03-27-2007, 07:55 PM
It's not all a dream, but the ending of Brazil was...

How do you know it wasn't all a dream? Go back and watch it and try and pinpoint where exactly reality ends. Then repeat until your head explodes.


I've watched Brazil several times, and I think you can pinpoint the moment pretty precisely.

Reality ends when the head of Jack Lint (Michael Palin) explodes. Everything from that event to the moment we come back to the torture chamber ó where we see Lint was never really shot, and Sam never really rescued ó is part of Sam's catatonic dream.

Terry Gilliam also vouches for this interpretation in the DVD commentary. He apparently got this question often enough to want to settle the matter.

Of course, it's only a movie, so we're free to interpret it as we wish ó especially a surreal one like this. On the Web, I've seen people try to argue, seriously, that most of the movie is just a dream experienced by Mr. Tuttle, the poor schmo who's mistakenly arrested at the beginning.

Who can argue against that interpretation? Except perhaps to say: it completely ruins the film! Are you on crack?!

Lumpy
03-27-2007, 08:53 PM
The movie ending of The Wizard of Oz was parodied in "A Fistfull of Yen", one of the skits in Kentucky Fried Movie. Even given that the whole skit was farcical, people booed in the theater.

Not a dream as such but Deep Space Nine had two episodes in which Cisco either hallucinated or experienced an alternate reality where he was a science-fiction writer in the 1950s and the whole premise of the show was an unpublished novel of his. It even left open the possibility that this was reality and the mainstream of the series the hallucination.

Baldwin
03-29-2007, 11:05 AM
There was the episode of Buffy that had, as its premise, the possibility that the Buffyverse was a creation of a possibly insane teenage girl.

I hated it. One of my least favorite episodes ever.
Just occurred to me -- wasn't the recent episode of "Smallville", in which Clark was a patient in Bellville, a really close rip-off of that particular "Buffy" episode? (Though the basic idea, of course, has been used many times over many years.)

One of the truly bad low-budget movies they showed on MST3K ended with, not a dream exactly, but a fade-to-black and then a spontaneous rearrangement of reality, explained by a very serious voiceover.

Otto
03-29-2007, 11:09 AM
Just occurred to me -- wasn't the recent episode of "Smallville", in which Clark was a patient in Bellville, a really close rip-off of that particular "Buffy" episode? (Though the basic idea, of course, has been used many times over many years.).
A more contemporaneous (possible) rip-off was in an episode of Charmed, where Piper was psyched into thinking that her witchy ways were all a delusion. Aired in the same season as the Buffy episode, within a few weeks of each other.

Dan Norder
03-30-2007, 05:51 PM
I remember a bad night when all three of the movies I had rented turned out to end that way!

Soul Survivors, Carnival of Souls and Campfire Tales -- and they were all the Jacob's Ladder style

There's also at least one of the movies based upon the old horror comic book style stories, but considering the source material and so forth that's to be expected.

NJ_Kef
03-30-2007, 07:17 PM
The soap opera Passions is egregiously guilty of misleading with daydreams. There was an episode of Enterprise that I loathed: a character has a vivid dream while beaming aboard the ship which becomes an occasion for her to discover her courage, but this solipsist plot has no effect on anyone else.

I prefer stories that leave it up to the audience to decide if it was a dream, such as Tim Mathesonís Bid Time Return, the basis for the movie Somewhere in Time. I include The Wizard of Oz in this category because, as a child, I was not convinced that Dorothy hadnít been to Oz (and also because I had read the books).

Skott
03-31-2007, 01:25 AM
Futurama's episode "The Sting" is consistently rated as one of the series' best, and it was all just a dream. And dreams within dreams, so that you don't know what's reality and what's not until the very end (at the time, I really believed the royal jelly/DNA combo was how they were going to bring Fry back). My favorite ST:TNG episode, "Frame of Mind", also uses the "It was all just a dream" idea quite effectively.

I think in both cases, though, it becomes (eventually) obvious that something is pretty screwy with reality and that it could all be a dream, but the question then becomes what is a dream and what isn't, and more importantly, why is this dream happening?

I also think that Identity used the concept in a fairly clever fashion.

wolf_meister
03-31-2007, 02:14 AM
Since this is the SDMB (populated by some very cultured, worldly and intelligent folks), I'm surprised no one has mentioned the term for this plot device - deus ex machina - a Latin term which literally translates into "god from a machine". In Greek tragedies an irresolvable situation was brought to a conclusion by a god (or goddess) descending onto the stage (by means of a crane) and setting everything right.

As everyone has mentioned, writers have never lost sight of this cheap plot device -
it was all a dream;
the characters are dead but don't realize it til the end; or
the characters think they are dead but the conclusion has them being alive with a bright new outlook on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, etc.

I thought it would be easy to find a link that would explain deus ex machina in greater detail but this is the best I could find:
http://wisegeek.com/what-does-deus-ex-machina-mean.htm

Oh and Otto, haven't you heard of a spolier box? I had always wanted to see "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla", and now you have ruined it for me. :D

Otto
03-31-2007, 11:33 AM
Oh and Otto, haven't you heard of a spolier box? I had always wanted to see "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla", and now you have ruined it for me. :D
Hey, it says "spoilers" right in the thread title. Venture inside a spoiler thread at your own risk.

illoe
03-31-2007, 01:39 PM
I think the dream ending, while most often trite and indicative of a lazy author, can be done well. Skott's example of "The Sting" is a good one: After Fry dies after throwing himself between her and the stinger of a giant space wasp, Leela's experiences get stranger and stranger, with a recurring, increasing sensations of guilt and loss. Each ever-stranger delusion is halted by Fry telling her to wake up, and when she finally does, it is to find that she suffered the poison and has been languishing in a coma.

That episode might be partly a tribute to one of the most disturbing and wonderful stories ever to use the dream trope: Philip K Dick's "I hope I shall Arrive Soon." (I must respectfully disagree with CalMeachem: I find Philip K Dick enchanting; a close second to Borges). In that story, the suspended animation unit malfunctions for a traveler on a ten-year interstellar voyage. The ship's computer uses the man's memories to make dream sequences for him to keep him from going mad. But each sequence becomes a nightmare of guilt and loss over the memory of a girl in a red dress, and the computer aborts each sequence in turn, until finally the computer decides to play its trump card: a dream of their arrival at the destination planet. This, too, goes bad, and when (if?) they actually arrive, the man cannot shake the horror of his profound existential uncertainty and is, after all, quite mad.

I suppose I've gone a bit far afield. Sorry for the semi-hijack.

Bill Door
03-31-2007, 02:46 PM
That Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge story had an "it was all a dream" ending that was pretty well done. I may have missed it in the thread, because I was a little surprised not to see it already mentioned.

Tuckerfan
03-31-2007, 02:48 PM
That Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge story had an "it was all a dream" ending that was pretty well done. I may have missed it in the thread, because I was a little surprised not to see it already mentioned.
Yup. You missed it.

wolf_meister
03-31-2007, 05:33 PM
Otto
Yes, I must apologize for accusing you of revealing a plot ending. The thread itself did have a spoiler warning. :smack:

Even though I now know the clever ending to "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla", I can still enjoy the musical and comedic stylings of Mitchell and Petrillo. :D

BrainGlutton
03-31-2007, 06:31 PM
You know what I hate? Dream sequences in fiction. Almost always they're just self-indulgence on the part of the author. If we don't know as we're reading them that someone's dreaming, they're lame for the reasons already explained in this thread. They're a cheap way for the author to play the "Ha ha, gotcha" game, to get a cheap reaction out of us without having anything happen for real to justify it.

What's even worse is that dream sequences are almost never realistic. I mean, to the best of my recollection, I've never had a dream that my waking mind could confuse with real life. Have you? In dreams, things just happen, one after another. The laws of physics and causality are suspended.

BrainGlutton
03-31-2007, 06:42 PM
Since this is the SDMB (populated by some very cultured, worldly and intelligent folks), I'm surprised no one has mentioned the term for this plot device - deus ex machina - a Latin term which literally translates into "god from a machine". In Greek tragedies an irresolvable situation was brought to a conclusion by a god (or goddess) descending onto the stage (by means of a crane) and setting everything right.

The Superflu caused so much pain, oh!
And with evil a raging volcano
Flagg's triumph seemed certain
Until King rang the curtain
By pulling a deus ex ano! :rolleyes:

BrainGlutton
03-31-2007, 06:46 PM
Sometimes it's done well. Examples:

Time Bandits: At the end we find out it's all just a dream . . . only, not really . . .

Top Secret: Val Kilmer is arrested by the East German police. He passes out under torture and dreams he's still in high school and there's about to be a test he hasn't studied for. He wakes up and he's still being tortured. He smiles and gasps, "Thank God . . . it was just a dream . . . just a dream . . ."

BrainGlutton
03-31-2007, 06:51 PM
Slightly off-topic, but just once I would like to see a virtual-reality movie where the characters are not at any point uncertain whether they are experiencing virtual reality or real reality. That plot device was done to death the first time it was used (either in eXistenz, The Thirteenth Floor, or The Matrix -- they all came out in 1999).

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