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Dreams That Money Can Buy  [DVD]
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History of the Avant-Garde
DREAMS THAT MONEY CAN BUY
A Film by Hans Richter
History of the Avant-Garde: A series of video releases featuring the best of radical and innovative filmmaking from the first hundred years of cinema.
Berlin-born Hans Richter - Dadaist, painter, film theorist and filmmaker - was for four decades one of the most influential members of the cinematic avant-garde. Richter assembled some of the century's liveliest artists as co-creators of Dreams That Money Can Buy, his most ambitious attempt to bring the work of the European avant-garde to a wider cinema audience.
Joe, a young man down on his luck, discovers he has the power to create dreams, and sets up a business selling them to others. The 'dreams' he gives to his clients are the creations of Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder and Richter himself. The result is by turns playful, hypnotic, satirical, charming and nightmarish.
- Alternative soundtrack by The Real Tuesday Weld
- Filmed interview with The Real Tuesday Weld
- Three short films by Hans Richter: Rhythmus 21 (1921); Ghosts Before Breakfast (1928); and Everyday (1929)
USA | 1948 | colour and black & white | Optional hard-of-hearing subtitles | 80 minutes | Ratio 1.33:1 | Region 2 DVD
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Top customer reviews
Joe learns that he can look into peoples minds & see there dreams, each dream is presented by a surrealist Artists ..Max Ernst, Leger, Calder & Duchamp & is a fantastic bit of filmaking
The film is guided by a pre Pythonesque/Beatles film comedy, & has elements of a noir thriller, but it is the sections by Ernst which is a must for any David Lynch fans, & Duchamp with it's hypnotic & modern sounding Cage score that really sucks you in, oh & Joe inexplicablly turns Blue which is always good
So full marks to the BFI (and Amazon for the low price). It's nice to have the alternative soundtrack from 'The Real Tuesday Weld', but I do prefer the original (sorry folks).
The film is segmental and there were two segments which stood out.
The first was The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart, a story of two mannequins. This was the best part of the film and the most approachable for those who would normally avoid experimental films. An enjoyable soundtrack and humourous.
The second was Circus which was animated models made from pipe cleaners. I would not be surprised if this segment was the inspiration for Tim Burton's Nightmare before Christmas and Corpse Bride.
I could not find a separate listing as to which director did which part on the IMDb, but I have to say that I only really enjoyed two segments - Duchamp's 'Discs' and the last one, 'Narcissus' by Hans Richter. I really liked the geometric patterns and shadows of the masks and things in Duchamp's and the overall operatic, gothic feel of Richter's, which had some great visual flair.
I persevered with the others and whilst I could see definite skill and talent in many pieces, they weren't really "me". My score is probably nearer the 2.5 mark than 3, but I'm rounding up slightly. Apologies to all who love this work, but with an alternative and rare film such as this, it's always going to divide opinion - and I did give it a go!
The 'remastering', such that it is, is frankly substandard. Picture quality could certainly be improved but it is the audio that remains pretty shocking. Even running the (original) soundtrack through Soundforge without bothering to regulate basic presets does a lot to improve the original audio track.
So what the BFI offers here is a ropey print with poor audio. To compensate they offer a couple of Richter's short films already available elsewhere. What they could have done is paired this film with the documentary 'Europe after the Rain' - that would actually have made sense.
The other 'bonus' features are a new soundtrack provided by The Real Tuesday Weld, and a short discussion amongst same protagonists. This discussion is hilarious, being something of a cross between an outtake from Nathan Barley and a thoroughly soul destroying confrontation with self-satisfaction - because this new soundtrack is truly dire. At least the viewer gets to discover that the 'performers' approve of their own work, albeit a masterclass in mediocraty.
I don't know why the BFI persist with the idea that they can add value to important film works by tethering these to dull replacement audio. They've done the same with Genet's short film ... go figure.
All in all this is a poor package for a film that, despite its obvious flaws, deserves far better.
Personally I found the framing story to be the most intersting part, and watched the film on television due to that premise. If the dreams had been a genuine attempt to nail as slippery a thing as the human subconsciousness onto film, it would have been a really good film.
But the "dreams" were just an excuse for having seven short films in there, and mostly they were photos from my school art history textbook come to life, which was not so interesting. (Also, when I do visit art galleries, I am not so interested in the video installations, which are today's modern descendents of this film.) Maybe another filmmaker can take this premise and run with it.
Ten out of ten for the slightly surreal-sounding soundtrack though.
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