Dream City (1973)

aka Traumstadt, Dream Town
Article 4727 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-3-2015
Directed by Johannes Schaaf
Featuring Per Oscarsson, Rosemarie Fendel, Olimpia
Country: West Germany
What it is: Art film

An artist and his wife are invited to live in a hidden city where the residents have complete freedom to pursue their work. However, they discover that “complete freedom” has a way of taking its toll on the human condition.

IMDB lists one of the taglines for this movie as “Bizarre like Fellini. Surreal like Bunuel. Explosive like Cocteau.”. I can see that. It’s also sometimes maddening like Kafka and funny like Monty Python. The trouble is I’m not sure that the movie achieves transcendence like the best works of any of those other people. I’m also not sure whether the movie ultimately has anything more to say than the attempt at this sort of Utopia would result in chaos and madness, a concept that seems rather obvious to me. What I do know is that the more chaotic and out-of-control the situation gets, the more strident and annoying the movie becomes. Maybe that’s why I prefer the first half of the movie when the city comes across as colorful and eccentric. My favorite scene in the first half involves the artist trying to get an audience permit to meet the founder of the city; my favorite scene in the second half is when we finally discover where the white horse that carries bodies through the city is going. In the end, I half like and half dislike the movie, but so much of it seems self-indulgent that I doubt I’ll be giving it another viewing any time soon.

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