Cinema and dream logic

“Movies have an inherent dreamlike quality to them, with their abstract images, changing points of view, with its edits and cuts.  Is this a chicken-and-egg thing?  Do our brains mirror the patterns of movies when we dream, or is it the other way around?  Difficult to say, but it is striking that movies arose at the same time as the explosive abstraction in art.  There was a sudden push to explore the realm of the unconscious, to dive into the symbolic realm of the soul, and spill out into the ordered, waking world, where everything is neat and ordered and given proper names.  There is an exhileration to these new art forms, but there is also a terror which lies under the surface, and you can feel unsettled without quite understanding why.

Great examples range from Stravinsky’s The Right of Spring, to Picasso’s Cubism, to the errie quality of silent movies like The Cabinet of Dr. Calibari, or Nosferatu, or Metropolis, or The Passion of Joan of Arc.  The silent movies were more primal, more intuitive, more iconic.  They had to be, by virtue of the technology.  Only when sound was introduced and mastered have these surreal images receeded.  We have literally talked the shadows away.”

Daniel Thomas MacInnes


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