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The Lathe of Heaven
The Lathe of Heaven
Actors: Bruce Davison, Peyton E. Park, Niki Flacks, Kevin Conway, Vandi Clark
Directors: David R. Loxton, Fred Barzyk
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television
PG     2000     1hr 45min

For George Orr, sleep is not a respite. For Dr. William Haber, dreams are tools. For sci-fi fans, the wait is over. Praised as "rare and powerful" by The New York Times, Ursula K. Le Guin?s THE LATHE OF HEAVEN is one of...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Bruce Davison, Peyton E. Park, Niki Flacks, Kevin Conway, Vandi Clark
Directors: David R. Loxton, Fred Barzyk
Creators: David R. Loxton, Fred Barzyk, Carol Brandenburg, Diane English, Roger Swaybill, Ursula K. Le Guin
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television
Sub-Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 08/29/2000
Original Release Date: 01/09/1980
Theatrical Release Date: 01/09/1980
Release Year: 2000
Run Time: 1hr 45min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 24
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A Classic in 1970's Sci-Fi
Lisa Shea | 06/30/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Lathe of Heaven, a wonderful novel by Ursula K. LeGuin, translates marvelously well to film. It aired only once on PBS and was finally reaired and put up for sale on video and DVD. The basic plot - an everyman, George Orr, has the power to make his dreams come true, and the results have endless possibilities. The intense pyschological drama of this movie, coupled with its futuristic look, and the twist ending, make it an absolute classic in science fiction. The interview with the author at the end of the film brings many different interpretations and analystic choices, and answers a few questions viewers might have about the film. If you saw the original airing of the movie, you'll be thrilled with the re-release. It's been 20 years in the waiting."
Classic story, well done tv version!
Lisa Shea | 11/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This was the first movie commissioned by PBS, one of the many interesting facts that the DVD interview reveals. In fact the interview on the DVD is almost as good as the movie itself - did you know Ursula wanted to do the Left Hand of Darkness instead but that they talked her out of it?The movie is excellent. Although you can tell at the beginning of the DVD that the master wasn't of the best quality, you quickly get sucked into the storyline, accepting some of the shoddy special effects because the plot and acting are so stellar. I was lucky enough to do a 3 hour phone interview with Kevin Conway, and we talked a lot about how much this movie meant to him and what he was thinking about while filming. The movie has had a big impact on both the actors and viewers - most sci fi fans I know remember vividly when this came out, and have been waiting anxiously for its return. I already have a line of friends who want to come watch this with me!The basic story is that George Orr has dreams which change reality, and simply wants them to stop. His doctor, Dr. Haber, instead decides to use them to change the world and rid it of evil. Ursula explains in the interview that this pits the tao of 'go with the flow' in George vs the progress and change mentality of Dr. Haber.It's definitely a movie that you can watch many times and really think about, and also a movie that is fun just as an interesting story. Perhaps my favorite part is when George wonders if *everyone* has this ability, to change reality with dreams, and that maybe the 'rug is being pulled out from under us' over and over again without anyone noticing.See this with friends or family, and be prepared for lively discussions afterwards!"
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 03/11/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This intriguing film is a cinematic adaptation of a popular science fiction book written by Ursula K. Le Guin. A made for TV PBS special, it first aired back in 1979 and has since developed a cult following. Considering that it was made on a shoestring budget of $250,000, I must say that I was impressed with what was done. Those involved in the production certainly made a little go a long way.The film, which definitely has a futuristic, Orwellian feel to it, revolves around a troubled young man, George Orr, played by a young Bruce Davison, who is haunted by dreams that become reality. He goes to a dream therapist in hopes of finding surcease. The therapist, a Dr. Haber, recognizes the potential power inherent in this ability and plays God, giving the hapless Orr a post hypnotic suggestion to help him dream of something which will help the human condition. All thought by Dr. Haber of the good of the patient is tossed aside in the quest for the common good.Alas, all does not go to plan. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, as you just might get it. Here, it becomes somewhat of the proverbial monkey's paw. Moreover, what starts out as a desire to help humanity is quickly jettisoned, as issues of power and control rise to the forefront, and a megalomaniacal Dr. Haber loses all sense of perspective, with the easygoing Orr being manipulated by the controlling Dr. Haber. What happens to both patient and doctor is certainly a catalyst for thought provoking discussions, as is the end result, given the complexity of the underlying issues.What makes this DVD particularly interesting is the inclusion of a conversation between Bill Moyers and author Ursula K. Le Guin, in which the novel and the film are discussed. This feature alone should make anyone who has read the book or seen the film include this DVD in their collection."
Blessed Return of Lathe of Heaven
Christopher J. Jarmick | Seattle, Wa. USA | 01/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I had fond memories of the film having seen it when it was was first broadcast by PBS in 1980. It was a modestly produced ($250,000), ambitious (taking on a difficult to film science fiction novel), first ever P.B.S. produced movie. It was supposed to be one of several PBS produced films, but legal problems tied to music rights de-railed the project and kept the film un-available for 20 years. The way many people have seen it is on bootlegged black market videos.The movie very good, but it's poor special effects and flaws may make first-time viewers wonder what the big deal is all about. The movie is a mostly successful attempt at making a worthy film out of great novel by Ursulla K. Le Guin. I enjoyed the film a great deal, but there is some truly horrendously written dialogue, and some very unfortunate directorial choices. The acting by Bruce Davison and Kevin Conway remains quite good. Conway goes a bit over-the top and borders on campy melodramatics a few times, but not enough to de-rail the film. Indeed the budget restraints of the film requires the type of energetic Pavlovian performance he gives. Margaret Avery however never over-comes the fact the script has given her little to do and the directors aren't sure how to best utilize her. In one scene her character is passionate but in the next she is almost apathetic. The original story and its ideas are strong enough to withstand such flaws however.The film is Directed by Fred Barzyk and David R. Loxton and written by Roger E. Swaybill and Diane (creator of t.v.'s Murphy Brown !) English.You can see how this film might have incluenced films like Brazil, Bladerunner and The Matrix.The film's special effects are cheap and a few steps below the level of an old Star Trek episode. This might be distracting to viewers. The film however isn't relying on it's effect but it's ideas and I hope new viewers can get past the dated cheesiness of the effects and enjoy what the film is about.I hope so. The film ultimately overcomes its limitations and works very well as an above average example of an intelligent science fiction film. There haven't been many of those. The film is about a well-meaning Icarus who pushes too hard and flies too close to the sun with disastrous results.George Orr ( portrayed by Bruce Davison, who at the time was most famous for Willard and Fortune in Men's Eyes and recently played the Senator in the X MEN film) is an everyman in a Portland, Oregon of the `near future'. The world is over-populated and on the brink of economic disaster. Weather patterns have been altered by the effects of nuclear war. George Orr believes that when he dreams, he changes reality. He tries to prevent himself from dreaming and has recently over-dosed on drugs. Under terms of his probation he must go and discuss his problems with Dr. Haber an Oneilogist (who specializes in dreams). At first, the doctor doesn't believe that George Orr can actually change reality with his dreams. Only George you see remembers how things were before he dreamed. He's lived with the guilt and horror of how his dreams change reality since he discovered his unique gift or curse when he was 17. As viewers, we quickly believe George is telling the truth. His dreams do change reality. Then Haber suggests to George that he change the weather patterns in his dream. The Doctor runs up to roof of the building while George dreams and watches with amazement as the always cloudy skies, suddenly become blue and sunny. Most of the population think it's been sunny for several years, but George and the Doctor know that it was George's dream that changed things. The doctor realizes that he can cure all of the world's problems by hypnotizing George and giving him suggestions about what he should dream.Like in the Monkey's Paw, however, one must be careful what is asked for or disaster could result. George is well aware of the dangers of what the Doctor is doing, but the Doctor won't listen to him. Will George be cured of his `effective dreams'? Will the Doctor playing God destroy the world he is trying to save? Will ever changing reality make it impossible for George to re-connect with the woman he has fallen in love with?While I was disappointed the film did not age as well as I had hoped, it is still a worthwhile one which deserved to be saved from obscurity. It has taken the efforts of several big name stars (Tom Hanks and Jason Alexander for example) and thousands of fans over the last several years to convince P.B.S. management to resolve the legal issues over the music right which have prevented the film from being re-broadcast. They were and the film was re-broadcast on P.B.S. in June of 2000 and recently released on video and DVD. Included on the DVD is a wonderful interview of (Portland, Oregon based) author Ursula K. Le Guinn by Bill Moyer. While the rescue of Lathe of Heaven from obscurity is unfortunately not on the level of the restoration of a true masterpiece like Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, it is a very welcome return of a thought provoking and ambitious film that deserves to be widely seen. " Those whom heaven helps we call the sons of heaven. They do not learn this by learning. They do not work it by working. They do not reason it by using reason. To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven."As an amusing aside. Ursula K. Le Guinn based the title of her novel on the above translation of an ancient Chinese quote. However, it was a bad translation because at the time it was written there were no such things as lathes. Still a great quote and a great title though.Chris Jarmick Author of The Glass Cocoon with Serena F. Holder - A steamy cyber thriller available January 2001. Please order it today. Thank You"