Directed by Vincent Ward
Written by Richard Matheson, Ronald Bass
A movie can be completely ruined by a bad ending, I am very sensitive to this point and I found a lot of movies whose finale seemed either too happy or simply too poor. What Dreams May Come starts as a great movie but then it is ruined not by the finale but by the whole second half of the story!
The movie starts with the brief story of Chris and Annie, their first meeting in Switzerland, their marriage, the happiness of their family and their two children. This happiness is abruptly interrupted by the death of their children in a car accident and then by the death of Chris himself. However, the story continues to focus on Chris who goes to heaven and experiences the beauty of this surprising place. Finally, when Annie commits suicide, he decides to rescue her from hell...
As soon as the movie begins, the most interesting feature are the settings, the colors and the mountain views. This peculiarity is maintained throughout the whole movie and reaches its best expression in the initial scenes of the heaven created by Chris. It is impossible to describe the beautiful scenes set in a world made of oil colors where everything seems to be painted by an impressionist. All the scenes set in heaven are spectacular, flying sirens, characters coming from fairy tales, silly man riding old-fashioned bicycles... a dream!
Unfortunately, this 'dream' (from the audience's point of view) comes to an end near the middle of the movie, when the darkness, the pain and the grievous atmosphere of the hell seem to affect the rhythm of the narration, the intelligence of the story and the overall quality of the movie. The only thing that doesn't decay is the wonderfulness of the setting, featuring some other suggestive scenes of a rather classic hell.
I really appreciate the concept of heaven where there is nothing 'new' compared to the previous life on Earth, everything Chris finds there is a re-elaboration of something he already knew when he was in life. Now, I don't want to enter a theological or metaphysical discussion but I simply liked this idea...
To enjoy this movie you must be able to concentrate mainly on the visual side and you'll be able to enter its surreal and oneiric world. The story, especially near the end, is a bit too gloomy and it obviously tries to push the audience to tears (failing, somehow). Finally, the last scene is very nice but, again, you don't have to put too much attention to the facts narrated but rather enjoy the symbolism portrayed.