The Lathe of Heaven (1980)

Article 4518 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-28-2014
Directed by Fred Barzyk and David R. Loxton
Featuring Bruce Davison, Kevin Conway, Margaret Avery
Country: USA / West Germany
What it is: A dream that sticks with you

A man undergoes voluntary therapy with a dream psychiatrist to find a cure for his condition – his dreams affect the real world. The psychiatrist, who can exude some control over the dreams of his patients, decides to use the man’s abilities to try to change the world for the better…

This is a very effective adaptation of the Ursula K. Le Guin novel of the same name, especially when you consider that the financial resources for the project (it was made for PBS) were probably rather slim. I read the novel many years ago, and though I don’t remember it very well, this adaptation did bring back certain memories of it. It’s something of a cross between “The Monkey’s Paw” and a “scientist playing God” story. It’s an excellent and fascinating movie, well acted and directed, and it’s only in the final scenes where the limited budget causes problems; I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, and I may have to reread to the book to find out. Incidentally, this movie could not be rebroadcast for twenty years due to rights issue involving a Beatles song; it wasn’t until a different vocalist was used for the song that it was shown again.

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