Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra star in this visually stunning metaphysical tale of life after death. Neurologist Chris and artist Annie had the perfect life until they lost their children in an auto accident; they're... more » just starting to recover when Chris meets an untimely death himself. He's met by a messenger named Albert (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and taken to his own personal afterlife--a freshly drawn world reminiscent of Annie's own artwork, still dripping and wet with paint. Meanwhile a depressed Annie takes her own life, compelling Chris to traverse heaven and hell to save Annie from an eternity of despair. The multitextured visuals seem to have been created from a lost fairy tale. Heaven recalls the landscape paintings of Thomas Cole and Renaissance architecture complete with floating cherubs, while hell is a massive shipwreck, an upside-down cathedral overgrown with thorns and a sea of groaning faces popping out of the ground (one of those faces is German director Werner Herzog). Williams is the perfect actor to play against the imaginative computer-generated imagery--he himself is a human special effect. But the lack of chemistry between Williams and Sciorra is painfully apparent, and the flashback plot structure flattens the story's impact despite its deeply felt examinations of the heart and the spirit. Still, there's no denying Eugenio Zanetti's triumphant production design and the Oscar-winning special effects, which create a fully formed universe that is at once beautiful, eerie, and a unique example of movie magic. --Shannon Gee« less
Alice H. (singlegalkansas) from TOPEKA, KS Reviewed on 1/20/2009...
My favorite movie of all time. It explains how life and death are ultimitly linked.
2 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Stellar film and visual effects!
D. Litton | Wilmington, NC | 02/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is such a profound sense of drama, magic and emotion behind the story in "What Dreams May Come," a film based on the novel by Richard Matheson. There is a strong story with which anyone who loves someone else can identify, as well as an austentatious and elegant scope of visual and auditory imagery that jumps right for your eyes onscreen. Matheson's visions of heaven and hell are magnificently realized here, as well as the love between two people that is unbreakable, even after death. The movie begins with the chance meeting of two American tourists traveling in Switzerland. Soon after, Chris and Annie become inseperable, and after their wedding, they bear two children. Many years later, Ian and Marie are killed in a car collision, leaving their parents distraught yet overcoming. Another couple of years later, Chris dies in a car accident as well, on his way to celebrate the "Double D" anniversary of his wife's emotional recovery from their childrens' deaths. This begins his trip into heaven, which is rocky at first during his attempts to console his living wife, then graduating into his acceptance of his immortality and ascemding into heaven, which turns out to be the creation of his own thoughts and settings. When he realizes that he is not completely happy without Annie, he becomes depressed, so it is no surprise that when Annie commits suicide and is sent to hell, he readies himself to rescue his wife from her emotional confines that keep her in her prison of eternal darkness. The story for this movie is very ambitious, as are the filmmakers who bring it to life. There is an abundance of vivid memories in the form of flashbacks, many of which are precisely used to move the plot along and keep the story moving. Instead of becoming bored with the ongoing story of Annie and Chris's married and parental life, I found myself becoming more and more entranced as their lives unfolded, and say what you will, but the only way to tell a story like this is through flashbacks. If you were to take all of the memories and place them in order at the beginning of the movie, the audience would forget about the important moments that have an effects on the actions and events that take place in later instances of the film. Each one is a separate piece of the puzzle, and they all fit together quite well. This film is one of those movies that showcases the possibilities for filmmaking in the future. Really, when you think about it, there is no way that the movie could have been made thirty years ago and still have the same impact as it does now. The settings and scenery play the most important role of the movie, for they provide the reason for the emotion and action that affects our characters. The beginning shots in Switzerland show us beautiful vistas of mountains and lakes, which will later become the inspiration for Chris's heaven, as well as many of the paintings Annie creates. Their home bursts forth with color and brightness, proving that color plays a big role in the film. When everyone is alive, everything seems light and airy. After Chris's death, all is dark, and the walls of the home seem dismal and gray. One scene in particular is a scene in which Chris watches his children being driven away in their van down a long line of lilac trees, a slight fog covering the scene. Their is that brilliance of color, yet the dark fog makes us uneasy, hence the accident that kills their children. Heaven is elegantly portrayed in this film, and is done so with a new twist: that each person has their own private heaven created in the image of their own personal desires and thoughts. Chris's heaven is based on the paintings of his wife, from the mountains of Switzerland to a small island in the middle of a mountain lake with an opulent, airy house. The filmmakers give each scene the precise look of a painting, even after the special effects fade, using vivid colors, lots of flowers and mountainous backdrops, to transport us into Chris's new world. This is one of the most incredible film achievements ever, taking us to a special place that is warm, inviting, and personifies every thought we, as an audience, have ever had for beauty and vision. Hell is given a truly horrifying and intense treatment, displaying visions of suffering as well as the personal and emotional pain of life that haunts us all. Somewhat like the way in which Heaven is created, Hell is seen as a persons's "life gone wrong," which allows for the creation of their pain-driven eternity. The gateway to hell is a stunning visual image, a vast, smoky graveyard of smoldering shipwrecks that creak and groan. There is also a dismal, endless sea of decrepit faces of hell's inhabitants, that groan and scream at one another. The most striking of all the settings is the overturned cathedral, where Annie resides. The columns rise from the ceiling and go on forever into the darkness, which gives the whole place a sense of the neverending. There is a unique chemistry between the two leads that carries on the film's emotion and power. Robin Williams is charming, humorous and bold as Chris Nielsen, and through his acting and talent, he is able to make us believe in the love that Chris holds for Annie. Annabella Sciorra is moving as Annie, embodying all of the emotions and grief that set the stage for the second half of the story. When the two are together onscreen, they are happy and in love, and we buy it because they make it appear very authentic. Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays the angel that brings Chris to heaven, doing well in his performance of helping Chris through his struggle to realize his death. Max von Sydow, whose part is not as big as others he has had, is the tracker who takes them all to hell, and his words of wisdom keep the film's informative angle moving. "What Dreams May Come" will go down in history as one of the most innovative and spectacular films ever made, full of ambition and inspiration. In its story, we are taken on a journey of the human heart, as well as a striking vision of what may lie in store for everyone under God's eye."
FANTASTIC - I WAS PLEASANTLY SURPRISED!
Mr N Forbes-warren | Newport, South Wales, UK | 01/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this DVD for my wife, as she loves romances whereas I normally love action and sci-fi. But I also think very highly of Robin Williams, having enjoyed his performances in GOOD MORNING VIETNAM and DEAD POETS SOCIETY(and I'm a closet MORK AND MINDY fan!), so I watched it with her, and I was surprised that I ended up enjoying this movie so much! The story tells of a man named Chris, played by the brilliant Robin Williams, who dies in a road accident and goes to Heaven, which is his own personal Heaven, in one of his wife's unfinished paintings. His wife Annie(Annabella Sciorra), who has suffered the loss of their children with him in the past, is so devastated she kills herself and descends into Hell. Cuba Gooding Jnr plays a jovial Heaven 'guide', who shows Chris around and what he can create for himself, but this stiry proves that he loves Annie so much he would, quite literally, endure hell to be with her again. This movie had it all - spectacular visual effects depicting heaven and hell, brilliant performances all round(Robin Williams makes any movie he does worth watching, with the possible exception of that turkey called NINE MONTHS) and a story that will make you think about life in a different angle. The inverted cathedral images of Hell were an imaginative touch, along with the sea of faces and Max Von Sydow as a kind of dark man, or tracker, leading Williams into Hell. Watch this film with someone you love, and you'll appreciate each other more! It's unusual for me to rate a film of this type so high, but there you go. Don't miss it."
What if it were true
Flo | Pennsburg, PA United States | 10/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The acting in this film is wonderful. The story line was heart felt and thought provoking. Robin Williams is at his best. I have shared this movie with many of my friends. It brings about questions of faith but most of all it gives us hope about our live here on earth and after. No matter what your religion or whether you have a religion at all, it provides dreams."
"Richard Matheson wrote the novel on which this movie is loosely based. Matheson other stories include "The Incredible Shrinking Man", "I Am Legend", which was made into "The Omega Man" with Charleton Heston, "Duel", "Hell House", "Somewhere In Time" with Christopher Reeve, as well as many Twilight Zone episodes, including "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (with a panic-stricken William Shatner). If you are open-minded about what life after death may be, read the book first and then see this film. There is a penalty for suicide. "