Year released: 2001 Produced By: Cameron Crowe, Tom Cruise & Paula Wagner Written & Directed By: Cameron Crowe Staring: Tom Cruise, (David Aames) Penelope Cruz, (Sofia Serrano) Cameron Diaz, (Julie Gianni) Kurt Russell (Dr. Curtis McCabe) Jason Lee (Brian Shelby) Noah Taylor (Edmund Ventura) Timothy Spall (Thomas Tipp) Tilda Swinton (Rebecca Dearborn) Intro This movie (which title is a reference to a Monet painting) is based on Alejandro Amenabar's 1997 Spanish mind- teaser Abre los ojos "Open Your Eyes” which also stared Penélope Cruz. Unlike Cameron Crowe’s previous feel good movies Say Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire and Almost famous; Vanilla Sky takes on issues beyond optimism and love. Cameron tackles image and youth-obsession, self-worth, identity, narcissism, hollow lifestyles, phony aspirations, alienation and existential angst, lucid dreaming, eternal love, hate, shame, guilt, anger, revenge, redemption, reincarnation, and the nature of reality and consciousness. Interesting facts Cameron Crowe says that there are 428 references to pop culture made in the film. In Tom Cruise's bedroom look for a poster for - Jules et Jim (1961) - , a French movie in which the climactic scene involves the female star driving a car with her and her lover off a bridge. Keep in Mind Be aware of the narrative progression and incorporation of music into scenes. Pay careful attention to what is happening in the background – TV sets, writing, etc.. Overview Told in mind bending elliptical fashion - Vanilla Sky takes a journey into the mind of a shallow playboy named David Aams (a.k.a. Citizen Dildo) who is about to be awakened from a state of suspended animation. His life story is pieced together while discussing, with his imaginary psychiatrist (who he has fashioned after the father in To Kill a Mockingbird), a murder he is being accused of. His memory is a combination of dream and reality; however, he has vivid recollection that he has inherited his father’s fortune as a publishing mogul. During a birthday party he quickly falls for a girl (Sophia - Penelope Cruz) that his best friend Brian (Jason Lee), had brought. He takes her home were they have an innocent evening together. When the evening is over a girl (Julie - Cameron Diaz) who is stalking and obsessed with David invites him into her car. In a decision that proves fateful, David agrees. Disgruntled and deranged she drives them both off a bridge. Julie is killed; yet David survives, is disfigured and goes through months of painful rehabilitation. He never fully recovers, suffers great pain and battles to maintain control of the company. David’s memory begins to spiral into a surreal and nightmare like dementia. He knows someone has died but is not sure whom. At the end of the movie we learn that tech support from Life Extension Corporation has been sent into his nightmare to return him to the dream he had originally created when signing a contract to be cryogenically frozen. This dream includes fixing his disfigurement, falling in love with Sofia and incorporating this into all his favorite images he has had throughout his life. The dream has turned into a nightmare and through his imaginary psychiatrist he comes to the painful realization that he was the one who was killed. Tech support fills in the pieces of what happened directly before and after his suicide and allows him the decision to either fix the dream or go on living in the real world. He ultimately decides to live in the real world rather than in the dream. Theme • Seemingly little decisions can create great consequences; and with every passing moment is a chance to turn our lives around. Although this can lead to good or bad (The sweet is never as sweet without the sour) outcomes - the randomness of life events and the ability to choose is what makes life worth living. • In other words - stop living in an unconscious state. "Open your eyes," appreciate the life you've been given. Choosing the scenario of jumping off the building to be awakened (a sort of password to trigger his darkest fear of heights - the fear to make hard decisions - the ultimate decision to awaken) crystallizes this theme. Narrative Techniques The movie is told in elliptical or non-linear order: The entire story is a trip into a person’s memories and dreams. Foreshadowing: Utilized throughout movie “My own death was right there in front of me and you know what happened? Your life flashed before my eyes.” Flashbacks: Gives subjective point of view from an objective source (David’s memories dreams) Narrative Techniques First person point of view: We see David’s perception of events during his time in the real life, and in his lucid dream. Television and other background elements are used to give clues during the movie: Benny the dog and interview with scientist. The word dream is written backwards on the chalkboard during jail scenes. Cinematography - Lighting Realistic lighting and pictorial lighting is used. Realistic lighting is used in outside shots (the sun). A combination of lighting is used When Dr. McCabe is in jail and interviewing David. There are shadows and darkness around him. However, there is also realistic lighting coming through the windows. Cinematography - Special shots • A completely abandoned Times Square is remarkable • NYC's overhead shots are memorable (helicopter/crane shots) • Bob Dylan's Album Cover • The vanilla sky - end scene at the top of the building • Cruise’s leap of the building before awakening. • Spinning shots in beginning • Spinning shot when David is calling for “Tech Support” • Subjective shot from car - feels like you are in car when it crashes. Editing Scene transitions were made using straight cuts and quick thematic montages. Short choppy shots during moments of dementia and when dying add to the tension and overall emotion of the scene. Montage of David’s life flashing before his eyes at end of movie. Production Design Year released: 2001 Produced By: Cameron Crowe, Tom Cruise & Paula Wagner Written & Directed By: Cameron Crowe Locations: Los Angeles, California, New York, New York An Empty Time Square was extraordinary The final scene on the roof with vanilla sky and jump off the building (computer enhancement) Tom Cruise - A mature role and somewhat different than usual. Cameron Diaz - a more serious role compared to most roles. Penelope Cruz- very convincing, wonderful character Penelope Cruz and Tom Cruse began a relationship soon after this movie was made Sound Design The soundtrack is critical to the overall mise-en-scene and gives insights into David’s character. The choice of songs represents David's psyche - a commentary for us as we watch his psychological journey. Highly emotive scenes incorporate ambient music that heightens the mood ( Spiritualized during Funeral Party – Sigur Ros while saying goodbye to friends before awakening). In some cases the song is in absolute contrast with the events, and creates a nightmare, acid tripped out feel. In the dream David strangles Sofia and the song playing was “What if God was one of us” After David wakes up on the street, sound effect noises begin. From this point on the psychedelic effected noises add to the surreal nightmare atmosphere. Sound Design - Songs 1) Radiohead - Everything In It's Right Place, 24) Bob Dylan - Fourth Time Around, 2) Mint Royale - From Rusholme With Love, 25) Joan Osborne - One Of Us, 3) Paul McCartney - Vanilla Sky, 26) Radiohead - I Might Be Wrong, 4) Red House Painters - Have You Forgotten, 27) U2 - Wild Honey, 5) REM - All The Right Friends, 28) Bobby Holmes - Jingle Bell Rock, 6) Looper - My Robot, 29) Monkees - Porpoise Song, 7) John Coltrane - My Favorite Things, 30) It's Slinky - TV Commercial, 8) The Impressions - Keep On Pushing, 31) The Five Americans - Western Union, 9) Looper - Mondo 77, 32) Rollings Stones - Heaven, 10) Josh Rouse - Directions, 33) Todd Rundgren - Can We Still Be Friends, 11) Creeper Lagoon - Wrecking Ball, 34) Beach Boys - Good Vibrations, 12) Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill, 35) Elmer Bernstein - Summer's End (To Kill A 13) Juliana Gianni - I Fall Apart, Mockingbird), 14) Jeff Buckley - Last Goodbye, 36) Sinead O'Connor - The Healing Room, 15) Sigur Ros - Svefn-g-Englar, 37) Sigur Ros - The Nothing Song (Njosnavelin), 16) Spacecraft - Earthtime Tapestry, 38) Freur - Doot Doot, 17) Theivery Corporation - Indra, 39) Chemical Brothers - Where Do I Begin, 18) Sigur Ros - Agetis Byrjun, 40) Spiritualized - Ladies And Gentleman We 19) Lefifield/Afrika Barbaera - Africa Shox, Are Floating In Space, 20) Chemical Brothers - Loops Of Fury, 41) Nancy Wilson - Elevator Beat. 21) Underworld - Rez, 22) Two Sandwiches Short Of A Lunchbox - Too Good To Be Strange, 23) REM - Sweetness Follows, Sound Design – Thematic Quotes Beginning and end of the movie: Open your eyes. David: The little things... there's nothing bigger, is there? Even in my dreams, I'm an idiot who knows he's about to wake up to reality. I want to live a real life... I don't want to dream any longer. Brian: Just remember the sweet is never as sweet without the sour You're in O.J. Land man Sound Design – Thematic Quotes Sofia: Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around. I’ll tell you in another life when we are both cats. I think she's the saddest girl to ever to hold a martini. Tilda Swinton: This is a revolution of the mind Edmund (Tech Support): It's been a brilliant journey of self- awakening. And now you've simply got to ask yourself this: What is happiness to you, David? David is also told to "wake up" by several people during the second half of the film. Symbolism The book - Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections - At beginning of movie represents a journey through a man's life. David Aames name is significant: He is "aiming" for something - some truth, a deeper understanding - through his memories and dreams, "I'm livin' the dream, baby. Livin' the dream," he says to Brian - in a double entendre. Julie represents David's ruthless narcissism and his loneliness. She is the only character who confronts him about his disregard for anyone but himself. The nemesis to Sofia. Symbolism Sofia represents love and generosity, (she arrives at David's birthday party- a total stranger - with a gift for him. In Greek mythology Sophia is the spirit of wisdom or mother of all. Brian represents balance. Brian is a pragmatic writer. “You have to learn to take the bitter with the sweet.” He reminds David that there are consequences to one's actions. Dr. McCabe is the personification of the loving, nurturing male and David's notion of a psychologist. The father he never had David admits that his dreams are a cruel joke. “Even in my dreams I know I'm an idiot about to wake up. I try to dream I'm flying, but it never works.” He longs for consciousness. Symbolism The mask “facial prosthetic” is a reference to the external image he presents to the world. Each of us walks around in life wearing a facial prosthetic of one kind or another. “It's only a mask if you treat it that way,” The doctor in the movie explains.
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