Film Editing of Sergei Eisenstein -or- Hollywood's Dream Factory

Lisa, 19

In my dream i am in Hollywood with my boyfriend and a little girl that i apparently knew. We are on a movie set for the Simpsons and we are hiding behind a billboard when out of nowhere these monsters start running at us but the they disappear and the same thing happens about 4 times then the 5th time when the monsters run at us they don't stop. One of the monsters had a knife and it was going for me than my boyfriend pushed me out of the way and saved me.

Mr Hagen's Reply: Dreams, Magical Thinking, and Hollywood Realism 

While I have only a few dreams that I remember from childhood. I can find an early dream that I had in my notebook, it has an association to a Disney film The Sword in the Stone. At the time I had been reading a book by Joseph Chilton Pearce The Magical Child. Magical thinking is a prevalent cognitive mode and vehicle for thought in childhood and dreams. On the surface, this might seem to some like a revolutionary idea, however it is not. Lucien Levy-Bruhl and Jean Piaget had already attempted to define and understand this form of primitive thought. It was Sergei Eisenstein however, who really made creative use of this idea by applying the Piagetian magical thinking concepts to film editing.

Realism of everyday life is mostly the stuff dreams are made of. The only thing is that, as Bruno Bettelheim The Uses of Enchantment had already observed; "realistic stories run counter to the child's inner experiences." This is why we find "a little girl" that Lisa "apparently knew", in the dream above. The little girl symbolizes Lisa's archetypal "inner child" and magical thinking. Hollywood when it creates its sublime form of visual art, generates this primitive mythological form of "magical realism". Charles Odier had already discussed this concept from a Piagetian-Freudian perspective in his book Anxiety and Magical Thinking. One of the best films to capture the sense of magical realism and mythopoesis is the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings. George Lucas's Star Wars also fits the popular mythic description of the magical realism of the Hollywood dream factory. 

Nightmare on Elm Street-or-Hollywood Dream Factory and the Stereotypes of Women

In the dream above, we find an illustration of Eisenstein's ideas about a film montage of Hollywood films which condenses Hollywood space, time, gender identity and information. The fact that they (her boyfriend and herself) are at the Simpson's movie set is apparent, however we can find other films that are "piggybacked" into the dream, such as the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The Freddy Krueger slasher films (in the dream above, "monster with a knife"), whose premise surrounds the distinctions made between dream and reality, is perfectly suited for adolescents who are still trying to define their hopes, dreams and reality. The fact that her boyfriend saves her in the dream, is a personification of the damsel in distress saved by the knight errant (hero). This durable archetypal hero, monster and damsel in distress thematic and these stock characters can be found in literature, art, film and dreams.

Feminists have criticized this feminine ineffectual character in Hollywood film as a patriarchal stereotype. Fay Wray in King Kong is a classic illustration of the mould, as is Jane Porter and Tarzan, as well as Lois Lane and her hero Superman. Hollywood's type casting of women, much of the time used them (women) in cinematic feminine roles of the romantic interest, damsel in distress or femme fatal characters, decided to change its strategy and recipe. One such film is Thelma and Louise, which features two women, who become victims of circumstance. Louise having shot and killed a man who was trying to rape Thelma, becomes an outlaw from the law. The two heroines meet a dramatic death, which the audience does not witness. Only a montage of the happier moments of their "vacation" is shown at the end of the film. Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon), both were nominated for Oscars as best actress, however lost to Jodie Foster (as FBI agent Clarice Starling) for her role and performance in Silence of the Lambs. The adventurous female character of Laura Croft (played by Angelina Jolie) Tomb Raider, followed in the footsteps of the 70's and early 80's TV show Charlie's Angel's portraying women who were fully capable of fending for themselves.  

On a final note, an interpretation Animated Dreams that discusses the Simpson's and the influence of media on American politics, family and dreams is posted at the IIDR website.


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.