Thursday, December 6, 2012

Do You Have Nightmares?

Allan Gray (Nicolas de Gunzburg) finds a coffi...
Allan Gray (Nicolas de Gunzburg) finds a coffin containing himself in a dream sequence. Modern critics praise this sequence as one of the most memorable sequences from Vampyr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
          The dream sequence is a literary device commonly used in film for creating tension, foreshadowing, revealing back story, analyzing character personality, and developing other aspects of story or character exposition.  Occasionally the dreams are thrown in for comic relief or just plain weirdness.

            Usually the dream sequence is a small part of the film that may occur with the character either sleeping or daydreaming.  In some films such as Wizard of Oz the dream is essentially the story.  Conversely, in a film like Inception the story is about the dreams and concerns the process of dreaming.

            Probably the most common use of dreams in films is the nightmare.  A character will have a dream that will cause them to awaken in terror accompanied by sweating or screaming or both.  This night terror will typically have something to do with a frightening aspect of the story and be directed to scaring the film viewer.

            I can't immediately recall ever having a absolutely terrifying nightmare like those often depicted in film.   The most frightening dreams I've had have generally been related to some undefined and unseen sense of terror that is not accompanied by any distinct visual that is inherently scary.  In most cases these types of dreams will cause me to awaken in silence or with a start, after which I remain awake for a period of time feeling dread, anger, confusion, or sadness.

             My dreams with scary visuals or themes tend to be more like nighttime entertainment as though I am watching a horror or suspense film in my sleep.  If I do awaken, I will frequently return immediately to sleep in order to continue viewing the dream, sometimes with the intent of directing the dream to change the bad outcome the dream had been seeming to take.   Dreams rarely terrify me, but usually they are just strange.

             Do you tend to have terrible nightmares?    Is there something in particular that seems to trigger these frightening dreams?   How do you cope with night terrors?   What types of things do you dream about that you find to be so scary?

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  1. It amazes me how powerful dreams can be, and esp. how they can affect my mood the following day if I've had a troubling one. I haven't had any nightmares or terrors...the last bad dream I had was that my fiance' broke up with me without any reasons and I was heartbroken. I woke up weepy and sad and sent him an I love you text. I was so relieved when his 'I love you too hottie' text came in within a minute. My dreams are usually super surreal and sometimes there's a sinister element lurking around the edges that never seems to come to the forefront.

  2. I have always had nightmares. One is driving into water, in the real world I am very uncomfortable driving near water. Another is going over a bridge and you cannot see over the top, I always wake up before we get to the top. The worst is when someone is chasing me to kill me, I usually wake up as they are pushing in the front door or chasing me with a knife. I used to dream about my family being dead and chasing me. When I have the worst of the worst dreams I just get up and read a book and take a nap later that day.

  3. The only time I've gotten scared is if I feel I am "falling" in a dream.

    (The picture you've chosen to accompany this post Lee is very chilling - the stuff of real nightmares.) I'll probably dream about that tonight. ;-D

  4. I have some of those fun ones and, like you, I can return to them and enjoy them. However, I do tend to have terrifying nightmares. In fact, I also have a sort of waking nightmare and occasionally suffer sleep paralysis. It can be really scary. The waking nightmares and sleep paralysis occur most often when I'm sleep deprived. As someone who's had insomnia since middle school, that can be a common problem. They've been happening less now that I've finally begun getting some manner of sleep.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  5. I had creepy, scary nightmares in my youth. In one recurring dream, I finally found my (childhood) house but when I approached it, it caught on fire! Or I'm climbing stairs, sensing something's waiting for me, but just before I reach the top thankfully I wake up trembling.

    Thank goodness I don't have such nightmares anymore!

    That dream sequence photo is truly spooky. Such sequences are indeed a useful literary device in serious films. All very interesting...

  6. I used to have a recurring nightmare, when I was much younger, that really did have an impact on me, at least for a little while. In the nightmare I'd be a passenger in a car when I was 21 and there would be this awful accident and I'd slowly watch the life drift out of me.

    I was very dubious of who I got in a car with when I was 21!

  7. JoJo -- You've done a good job of describing the mood of many of my dreams as well. The mystery of the unknown aspect of a dream can haunt me for a good while after I've awakened and sometimes entirely color my day.

    FMC -- I can really relate to the water and bridge dreams and the way you feel about them. Just last night I had a rather uncomfortable dream about riding in a car that was very close to the water. We drove over and under bridges. I wasn't terrorized, but I woke up with a peculiar sense of things around me.

    Paula -- I thought the picture was pretty cool. Thanks to Zemanta for the recommendation.

    Shannon -- I still have a post waiting in the wings about sleep paralysis. This is one of the most frightening sleep related sensations I can think of.

    Ann -- The dream sequence can be so effective in films and in storytelling if done well. They can also be pretty silly and frequently are.

    Jason -- Automobile dreams, especially ones dealing with crashes and perilous situations, are pretty common for me. I don't recall ever having one where I am seriously injured myself, but I often have dreams where the car is out of control. I would guess that the automobile is a fairly common dream motif in our time.


  8. Hey Lee! I used to have night terrors...thankfully I haven't had one of those for years...they only happened during times of intense and debilitating they were an indication that all was not well in my life. I have dreamed of my dead brother, as I've mentioned in other comments, but those are not so much nightmares as they are me trying to deal with losing give me an idea for a 'nightmare post' of my own, lol! As always, great topic!

  9. Eve -- I would agree that nightmares are related to life stress and difficulties. Even when things seem good, nightmares can reveal hidden fears and anxieties. Let me know when you put up your "nightmare" post since I'm such a bad boy about making it to everyone's every post.



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