Deciphering Dreams Rewired, A Documentary Review

15 Jan

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Could this beauty be activating a Bluetooth device in this turn of a century photo?

Could this beauty be activating a Bluetooth device in this turn of a century photo?

Screenings at
The Cinematheque
1131 Howe Street, Vancouver BC

Jan 29 – 8:45pm
Jan 30 – 8:45pm
Jan 31 – 6:30pm
Feb 3 – 6:30pm

Please check local listings for showtimes near you.

Wannabe futurists and technophiles ought to go see Dreams Rewired, a documentary exploring humanity’s interconnectivity with media. In the changing world of communications, new technical innovations annually appear, but to keep up requires understanding where it has come from — which is what this film excels at showing. One part history lesson and three parts montage, the discoveries of the past (in how the radio, phone and television was developed) is brilliantly explored in contrast to today’s obsession with cell phone culture. Today’s reliance on social media to stay connected with the news around the world can be put into contrast here, but viewers are left to decide on how that affects them instead of this movie making a statement.

This film really wants to explore the role the Internet played through hypermedia, but it stops short of going into detail on the role the military and academic institutions played to bring mass communication to the public. Quite often, our need for exacting data is met with trepidation, and this detail is gently explored through Tilda Swinton’s guiding and lilting narrative. The way she reads the script provided to her by the writing team of Manu Luksch, Mukul Patel, Martin Reinhart, and Thomas Tode brings the charm of Gloria Swanson to life. The way the dialogue moves only affirms the issues people had with technology back in that time, and it carries through to today with the coming innovations. The rhetoric she’s trying to convey can be tough to interpret but it can understood after spending time in deep thought.

A scene from Yakov Protazanov’s AELITA (1924), one of over 200 archival films included in Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart & Thomas Tode’s documentary DREAMS REWIRED. Courtesy of Icarus Films.

A scene from Yakov Protazanov’s AELITA (1924), one of over 200 archival films included in Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart & Thomas Tode’s documentary DREAMS REWIRED. Courtesy of Icarus Films.

Any critics observing the new innovations announced during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will no doubt chuckle at how close this film hits the mark. Products like the Oculus Rift is finally going to market; after a long wait, how many people are going to care? Just like the first radios and televisions, this kind of sensory technology will be initially expensive and unneeded in the common household. Not everyone can be like Brisco County Jr. on the quest for spotting that next big thing. This fictional cowboy hero of the early 90’s pop culture scene was keeping his eyes open for any innovation that will make life easier for the future.

With this film, mass communications is explored through a collection of vintage reels dating from the days of the Lumière brothers (at least) to Thomas Edison‘s experiments to pre-war propaganda. Cinephiles should not blink, otherwise the works of Georges Méliès, Buster Keaton, and D.W. Griffith can get missed. Fritz Lang‘s penultimate Metropolis might have been an influence to some of the themes explored in director Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart and Thomas Tode’s film. But for the later section, the narrative feels more Orwellian especially when considering Big Brother is capable of monitoring the masses through all the said communications devices.

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At least with Lang, his work showed how man and machine can coexist in confluence. While this product is not tough to understand, just who will get its message simply requires putting aside any precognitions of where we are today in our relationship with consuming media. Even cute little puppies (pictured left) want to get into the game.

It’s sure to change when we least expect it, but are we ready to accept it?

4 Stars out of 5

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