Oneiric (film theory)
In film theory, the term oneiric (//; "pertaining to dreams") refers to the depiction of dream-like states or to the use of the metaphor of a dream or the dream-state in the analysis of a film.:3-4
Early film theorists such as Ricciotto Canudo (1879–1923) and Jean Epstein (1897–1953) argued that films had a dreamlike quality. Raymond Bellour and Guy Rosolato have made psychoanalytical analogies between films and the dream state, claiming films as having a "latent" content that can be psychoanalyzed as if it were a dream. Lydia Marinelli states that before the 1930s, psychoanalysts "primarily attempted to apply the interpretative schemata found in Sigmund Freud's Interpretation of Dreams to films."
Author Douglas Fowler surmises that "images arising from dreams are the well spring of all our efforts to give enduring form and meaning to the urgencies within," seeing this as the reason why "the deep structure of human narrative is conceived in dreams and the genesis of all myth is dreams." Author Robert Eberwein describes the filmic experience as the merging of a viewer's consciousness with the projected consciousness of the screen's subject, a process whereby the viewer's prior experiences with dreaming "help to create a sense of oneness" with cinema, causing the gap between viewer and what is being viewed to narrow.:53 Under this theory, no matter what is being shown on the screen — whether the literal representation of a character dreaming, or the fictional characters of a story going on about their fictional lives — the very process of viewing film itself "replicates activities associated with the oneiric experience.":81-82
Films and dreams are also connected in psychological analysis by examining the relationship between the cinema screening process and the spectator (who is perceived as passive). Roland Barthes, a French literary critic and semiotician, described film spectators as being in a "para-oneiric" state, feeling "sleepy and drowsy as if they had just woken up" when a film ends. Similarly, the French surrealist André Breton argues that film viewers enter a state between being "awake and falling asleep", what French filmmaker René Clair called a "dreamlike state". Edgar Morin's Le cinéma ou l'homme imaginaire (1956) and Jean Mitry's first volume of Esthétique et psychologie du cinéma (1963) also discuss the connection between films and the dream state.
Filmmakers described as using oneiric or dreamlike elements in their films include Sergei Parajanov (e.g., Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors), David Lynch (e.g., Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive), Andrei Tarkovsky (e.g. Andrei Rublev and Solaris), Stan Brakhage (e.g., Dog Star Man), Michelangelo Antonioni (e.g. The Passenger), Jaromil Jireš (e.g., Valerie and Her Week of Wonders), Krzysztof Kieslowski (e.g. The Double Life of Veronique), Federico Fellini (e.g., Amarcord), Ingmar Bergman (e.g., Wild Strawberries), Jean Cocteau (e.g., Orphic Trilogy), Maya Deren, Wojciech Has, and Kenneth Anger.
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- Sparshott, F.E. (1971). "Vision and Dream in the Cinema". Philosophic Exchange: Annual Proceedings. 1: 116.
- Eberwein, Robert T. (1984). Film & the Dream Screen: A Sleep and a Forgetting. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691066191.
- Fowler, Douglas (1986). The Kingdom of Dreams in Literature and Film: Selected Papers from the Tenth Annual Florida State University Conference on Literature and Film. Tallahassee: University Presses of Florida. p. 10. ISBN 0813008638.
- Lentzner, Jay R.; Ross, Donald R. (26 April 2005). "The Dreams That Blister Sleep: Latent Content and Cinematic Form in Mulholland Drive". American Imago. 62 (1): 120. doi:10.1353/aim.2005.0016. ISSN 1085-7931.
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- Marinelli, Lydia. "Screening Wish Theories: Dream Psychologies and Early Cinema". Science in Context (2006), 19: 87-110