Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day Seventy-Nine: The Lathe of Heaven (1980) - Rank 4/5

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This film serves as a prime example that good science fiction need not be saturated with space battles or aliens as so many screenwriters in Hollywood believe. My statement might seem a little hypocritical and ironic, for there are aliens present in "The Lathe of Heaven," but their presence is in no way the crux of the film. In short, Bruce Davison plays George Orr, a man sent to obligatory analysis sessions after his drug abuse problem was discovered. His reason for taking various prescriptions? He wants to suppress his dreams, for he's prone to lucid visions that alter reality, a change that is never perceived by others for it changes them as well as their surroundings. At first his therapist doesn't believe him, but once he does, he keeps putting George into a state of hypnosis to control how reality is altered for his own personal motives.

A possible inspiration for Alex Proyas' "Dark City," though it lacks a major budget (it was a made for television film - though I can tell that the production had some pretty decent funding). The special effects are pretty good for both the era as well as the resources the crew had available. Many of the dream sequences were comparable with segments of "Altered States." The sets required constant alterations as George modified reality.

I was also impressed with the script. Such a premise sounds like the fodder for a half-hour episode of "The Twilight Zone," and not a feature length film. But is works and Davison works perfectly in the role of the socially-inept introvert with super powers (ten years earlier and the role probably would have been filled by Don Knotts - later, and it would have been Crispin Glover). Kevin Conway puts in an excellent performance as well as George's egotistic controller. The film serves as a great example of what a good script can do for a low-budget endeavor.

Watch the Trailer

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