Reviews

'Dreams Rewired' Makes Valuable Connections to the Past

Spoken in the language of our time, weaved in visual poetry, and deep in its reach, this film documents a world barreling towards a technological revolution.


Dreams Rewired

Director: Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart, Thomas Tode
Cast: Tilda Swinton
Studio: Amour Fou Vienna
Year: 2015
Release date: 2015-12-16


The world we live in is switched on. Globalized. Many of us (although certainly not all of us) are part of a network of nodes intertwined in a complex series of connections -- television, internet, phone. This brave new world has brought us unimaginable bounties in the form of democratized education, artistic revolution, and a new way to unite and dissent.

At the same time, however, we’re dealing with a new form of digital anxiety, fearful of the unseen ramifications of such a world. Dreams Rewired is a response to and a meditation upon the philosophy of our increasingly mediated world; privacy, anxiety, and power shifts are just snippets of the film’s greater messages.

More than that, though, Dreams Rewired is about history. Is the 21st century all that new? Are our worries all that new? Through footage culled from a staggering selection of early film, ranging from the very first motion studies up to Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, the filmmakers (Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart, Thomas Tode edit together a feature length video essay examining the development of photography and filmmaking with a lens trained at early representations of the issues that we are raising now.

The ultimate goal of this film, as I interpret it, is to make the case that what we consider a newfound media literacy had its genesis in a much earlier (yet still, historically quite recent) time. The early movies, the film seems to say, were very aware of the ramifications of emerging technology. Comparisons are drawn to the depiction of broadcast images pre-television and the privacy concerns that arise with a proliferation of such technology. Where will it be? In the workplace? In your home?

Three directors lent their talents to Dreams Rewired, and the extreme effort is clear. As is the case with any work involving archival footage, editing is the most important tool to express what was intended, and the treasure trove of clips used are assembled together in a fluid manner. The movie is dreamlike, flowing, but moored in a topic, circling around it, but always returning. It doesn’t hurt to have Tilda Swinton’s expressive voice providing the narration, which sometimes feels a bit overwrought but always helps to cohere the scene.

Watching the film is really the only way to understand it. No amount of distillation of its message will encompass the visual and aural totality of the hour-long experience of the film.

What I can say is that the selection of clips is fantastic. The editing, sans sound, creates an avant-garde found-footage experiment that would work well as a work of visual art. The selections range from early silent films like the 1925 Soviet film, Battleship Potemkin, to experimental film and, as mentioned earlier, the various motion studies that were created in the early days of sequential photography.

It’s stunning how closely the selections seem to mirror our own world. We consider ourselves the technological generation, speeding faster and faster towards the disintegration of the old hierarchies and the birth of a new world of infinite connection and limitless innovation. But we’re not. Our predecessors saw this coming, and in such stunning ways.

Dreams Rewired shows us our personal genesis, as well as the genesis of our period on this historical timeline. We become who we are because of what it is we have seen. This film speaks to us in our language, although not with text, but mostly with pictures, screens, criss-crossing wires and broadcast signals. There is no better way then to tackle such a subject through the medium the directors had chosen. Too many words could have constricted their message, but the Swinton's careful narrative, and the visuals, speak volumes.

Dreams Rewired may not be presented in the most clear way -- that is, the visuals are largely open to your interpretation -- but what’s hard to deny is that it engages us in a way that taps as much into our emotions as it does our intellect, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons it succeeds. Spoken in the language of our time, weaved in visual poetry, and deep in its reach, Dreams Rewired is a valuable document of a world that is quickly barreling towards a technological revolution unlike any in the past.

The DVD comes with no extras and no subtitles, but the visual quality is excellent for the format.

7
Music
Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Music

Coronavirus Tunes: A Brief Playlist for Our Times of Self-Isolation

As coronavirus spreads throughout the world and many of us hunker down with online media, we offer eight songs that share our feeling of seclusion.

Music

PopMatters Seeks Music Critics and Essayists

If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by the quality readership of PopMatters.

Music

Jennah Barry Offers Up a Warm, Sublime Collection of Memorable Tunes on 'Holiday'

Canadian indie folkster Jennah Barry returns with her long-awaited sophomore album, Holiday, which takes on a looser, more relaxed approach.

Music

Maria McKee Puts Down Her Electric Guitar and Picks up Dante on 'La Vita Nuova'

"Show Me Heaven" was another country. Maria McKee has moved to England, immersed herself in the Classics and turned away from the 21st century.

Music

Fotocrime's '80s-Inspired Rock Is Often Half-Baked

Fotocrime's South of Heaven is interesting mostly in that it's one of the most mediocre rock records I've heard in a long time.

Books
Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Books

Phuc Tran's Existential Trip of a Memoir, 'Sigh, Gone'

Phuc Tran's smart, tough memoir, Sigh, Gone, might launch a broken down kid to read 150 great books—for free, at the local library.

Books

Classic Shōjo Today: Moto Hagio's 'The Poe Clan'

Moto Hagio's The Poe Clan manga series a gender-fluid melodrama marked by deep psychological trauma.

Books

John Pham's ​J​&K​​ - It's a Matter of Perspective

In J&K, John Pham explores perspectives in the psychological sense. Like Picasso, he views things from more than one angle.

Film
Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of Political Dividing and Conquering in America

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Film

The Road to Murder in Love and War: Three Films from Claude Chabrol

The character's in Claude Chabrol's The Third Lover, Line of Demarcation, and The Champagne Murders are obsessively doubled and mirrored, reflecting and refracting their hunger for sex, love, money, and power.

Film

'Memento' Is the Movie of the Attention Economy

We are afraid of time, and so like Leonard in Memento, we kill it, compulsively and indiscriminately.

Film

What Lurks Beneath: 'Jaws' and Political Leadership in the Time of COVID-19

Boris Johnson admires the Mayor in Spielberg's Jaws. Remember him? He was the guy who wouldn't close the beaches -- and sacrifice that revenue source -- during a public crisis.

Recent
Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of Political Dividing and Conquering in America

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Music

The Killers - "Caution" (Singles Going Steady)

The Killers go for the big hooks and singable anthems on "Caution", but opinion is sharply divided about the song's merits amongst our Singles Going Steady panel.

Music

Lilly Hiatt - "Some Kind of Drug" (Singles Going Steady)

Lilly Hiatt sings about a different kind of love on "Some Kind of Drug". Hers is for a city and the impact gentrification has had its soul.

Music

There's Never Enough Time for Folk Music's James Elkington

The sometimes Wilco and Richard Thompson sideman, in-demand producer, and songwriter, James Elkington, muses on why it's taking longer than he expects to achieve more in a week than most of us get done in a lifetime.

Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.

Books

Classic Shōjo Today: Moto Hagio's 'The Poe Clan'

Moto Hagio's The Poe Clan manga series a gender-fluid melodrama marked by deep psychological trauma.

Music

Salsa Band LPT Hints at the Genre's Future

LPT's debut album, Sin Parar, hits all the right notes for a contemporary salsa album.

Music

Jennah Barry Offers Up a Warm, Sublime Collection of Memorable Tunes on 'Holiday'

Canadian indie folkster Jennah Barry returns with her long-awaited sophomore album, Holiday, which takes on a looser, more relaxed approach.

Music

Fotocrime's '80s-Inspired Rock Is Often Half-Baked

Fotocrime's South of Heaven is interesting mostly in that it's one of the most mediocre rock records I've heard in a long time.

Music

Maria McKee Puts Down Her Electric Guitar and Picks up Dante on 'La Vita Nuova'

"Show Me Heaven" was another country. Maria McKee has moved to England, immersed herself in the Classics and turned away from the 21st century.

Books

Phuc Tran's Existential Trip of a Memoir, 'Sigh, Gone'

Phuc Tran's smart, tough memoir, Sigh, Gone, might launch a broken down kid to read 150 great books—for free, at the local library.

Music

Weeks Island's 'Droste' Is a New High Water Mark in Ambient Steel (EP stream) (premiere)

Lost Bayou Ramblers' Jonny Campos turns up as Weeks Island with Brian Eno/Cluster-inspired music straight from the bayou. Hear Droste in full ahead of its release on Friday.

Music

Ireland's Junk Drawer Share New Krautrock Meets Post-Punk Song, "Temporary Day" (premiere)

Junk Drawer's "Temporary Day" is a simple yet compelling video for a gripping song that shows why the band have earned such acclaim in their native Ireland.

Books

John Pham's ​J​&K​​ - It's a Matter of Perspective

In J&K, John Pham explores perspectives in the psychological sense. Like Picasso, he views things from more than one angle.

Music

Miranda Lambert - "Bluebird" (Singles Going Steady)

Miranda Lambert sings her blues the way an artist paints with them on her latest single, "Bluebird".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.