The Indian classic Awaara dials into a dream world that is part romantic fantasy and part nightmare, wrapped in a dreamy musical spectacle. One of Bollywood’s biggest names, actor/director Raj Kapoor, anticipates heaven and hell amidst a rousing family/caste drama.
Mystery maestro Alfred Hitchcock hired iconic artist Salvador Dali to design the dream sequence for his amnesiac thriller, Spellbound. Gregory Peck works with psychoanalyst Ingrid Bergman to piece together the deadly events of his past. The striking scene breathes life into Dali’s legendary surrealist symbols.
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971)
The giallo genre’s lurid fantasies are alive and well in Lucio Fulci’s A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. The film opens with a London woman’s recurring Sapphic nightmare, which could be the key to solving her neighbor’s murder. Death never looked so sexy. (Be warned: the above clip is NSFW)
Any number of scenes from Christopher Nolan’s dream heist blockbuster could be highlighted here. The film is a visual feast, loaded with dream sequences (and sometimes dreams within dreams). The Dark Knight director shelved the CGI effects for the most part, using as many in-camera tricks as he could to produce the movie’s unforgettable visuals.
Branded to Kill (1967)
Seijun Suzuki’s radically disorienting and ultra cool yakuza noir is like watching a fever dream brought to life. Poetic, bizarre, and truly original, the film’s eccentric protagonist is plagued by a morbid promise he makes to his lover in this clip. The stencil-like overlays of birds, rain, and butterflies are symbolic of the movie’s psychosexual leanings and are beautiful to boot.
The Fall (2006)
Tarsem Singh’s uniquely dramatic visuals are never less than breathtaking and always the high point of any film he directs. The Fall is no exception and continuously toes the line between fantasy and reality. Tucked within Singh’s expansive cinematic vision is a dark little dream — evocative of something The Brothers Quay might conjure up — that an imaginative little girl envisions while recovering from surgery.
Blood and Roses (1960)
One of the first Carmilla stories translated for the screen, Roger Vadim’s Blood and Roses is a hypnotic and haunting take on the legendary female vampire saga. The monochromatic dream sequence is a gothic stunner, bloodstained and bursting with surrealistic touches à la Jean Cocteau.