Digital Magic in What Dreams May Come*

        What Dreams May Come, starring Robin Williams, is one of my favorites as a child. I shall never forget the effect that it had on my psyche, due to the amazing use of emotion and color in the brilliant cinematography. The film centers on Williams' character, a doctor with the “perfect life.” His wife is taking the children to school one day when she has a wreck, killing both the children. She eventually commits suicide because she cannot deal with the loss, and the husband is left to cope with a mountain of tragedy.

         Director Vincent Ward used the digital intermediate process, along with image-based animation, software to create the scenes where one character’s paintings come to life.

         There is brilliant use of color in these scenes, and I can tell that there must have been an articulate hand at work here. Williams’ character finally dies and is on a mission to find his wife and children in the afterlife. But he faces many obstacles when he begins his journey.

         First of all, he is literally in one of his wife’s paintings, as stated above. His guardian angel, played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., lets him know that he is basically in his imagination, and that “heaven” is what you think it is; your happiest thoughts. And he explains that there are no boundaries. This means Williams can fly or make himself look like whomever he wants.

         In the same way Ward is creating a beautiful construct for Williams to flex his dramatic muscles. The cinematic presentation is nothing short of breathtaking, showcasing the skills of all the graphic artists involved. This visual masterpiece deserves a large amount of credit for showing the way in the digital age. Furthermore, these dream sequences are a gorgeous example of how cinema continues to move the cinema in an exciting direction.

Brandon Boyd

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