Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Court TV: The Hallucination Files

Late last year I discovered CSI on DVD. I began watching two or three episodes a day, to distract from my clinical depression in the face of prolonged unemployment. In addition to my naughty fantasies about Warrick, I began dreaming of entirely new episodes of the show. That is, I would invent fully casted and scripted credit-to-credit dramas during my sleep, complete with the trademark gore and science. I thought these were fascinating, and often thought about writing them down and honing them into scripts. Unfortunately, I couldn't write anything during this time, and resolved instead to watch more sitcoms, or maybe try harder to get a job.

I watched Sin City on DVD last night and it was fantastic. Fantastic in the manner of Kill Bill, where the viewer is transported to an alternate reality for a few hours. The viewer can truly escape into the new world. Delightful as it was, I was pretty sure that it would give me nightmares, and it did. But my nightmares have taken on this permanent narrative form. Last night, I dreamt an episode in the manner of CourtTV, of a murder mystery being resolved at my sister's house in Upstate NY, while I was there visiting. How funny that my subconscious enjoys a violent mystery which slowly reveals itself bit by bloody bit. How funny that my subconscious follows all the rules of good TV writing, keeping me engaged until the very end, when Aha! I bolt awake with that last gruesome image in my mind.

I raise this topic because, before my procedural crime fabrications, I never gave dreams much thought. They were a brief respite at most. I realize my recent Hollywood nocturnal excursions are mostly apery of an established form, but the way they are fashioned with original components is no less unique than any story I've seen or read. How many legends, songs, or works of art have begun this way?

Am I merely the last to discover nature's most creative fountainhead of fiction? What is going on that causes me to come up with better stories asleep than I can compose while I am awake?


noodles said...

At the Guggenheim, I once saw a display of Fellini’s dream diary. He wrote all of his dreams down and even sketched them out. Later, he would use certain sections of his dreams in his films.

"I enjoy the quiet of the night, and I am anxious for dreams. Lying there waiting for my dreams is like sitting in the movie theater waiting for the film to begin," he told his friend and biographer, Charlotte Chandler, in "I Fellini," published in 1995.

Brendan said...

dreams are tricky. i do believe they can be a great source of fictional material, but they're hard to utilize well.

i have recurring dreams that take place in very specific places - and not places i've ever been to, or that even exist. they are distinct, dream-world places, with their own topography and logic. there are 2 of them, one is a city and one is a rural town. i find they appear at particular times, when my mind is on edge about something, but i've yet to really discover a pattern.

i love the Fellini quote. i recall a great quote from Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) about how the 24 frames-per-second playback of films allows for enough undetectable black space between frames as to mimic the eye movements of REM sleep. and that's why we leave the theater as if having just woke from dreaming.

Van said...

Funny you mention Kill Bill- I was telling people last week that Sin City is the best movie of that sort since Kill Bill. Let's see, we have Frodo as a hooker-slaying feather-weight boxing cannibal, Rutger Hauer for once escaping b-movie hell; perhaps the last time in Bruce Willis' career playing the down-and-out cop perfectly; a major deity must have shuffled the deck so Mickey Rourke could play Marv, and Brittany Murphy- looking cheap never looked so good!

RosemaryRuth said...

perhaps it's because Bruce Willis is The Man. perhaps it's because Jessica Alba is hotter than Angelina Jolie, even if she would gain 15 pounds and stop stealing babies. perhaps it's because my heart is the consistency of a warm, overripe peach. Whatever the reason, their love story in Sin City is just the sweetest thing I have seen in ages.