PAPRIKA: THE DOUBLE MEANING OF DREAMS
Fine Arts:Visual Arts:Anime
October 05, 2010
Dreams, as defined by Dictionary.com, are:
- a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.
- An aspiration, goal, aim
In Satoshi Kon's Paprika dreams are a major theme and play a central role in the plot of the movie. However, the dreams in Paprika are a metaphor for the aspirations of the characters in the movie. Dreams have the power to sweep all who touch it is the implicit message of Paprika and is shown through the trials that the characters face.
Konokawa, one of the first characters we meet is a very good example of this principal. Konokawa is a man who used to dream of making movies. A movie can be described as the vision of the director that is shared with the audience. Therefore, Konokawa dreamed of making shared dreams. He shared that dream with his deceased friend, who ironically had caused Konokawa to give up on his dream. However, Konokawa grows up to become the very role he played in their shared film venture and becomes a detective. When the case he is working on brings up old memories from his teenage years, it comes to him in the form of a series of dreams about movies, ending with the climax of the very movie his friend and him had set out to make.
Paprika eventually helps him sort out his dreams by sharing his dreams, often in the form of a fellow actor in the movie or as the audience. This shows the two roles one can take when sharing a dream in both senses of the word, an observer and a participant. When Paprika is a participant she holds quite a sway on the actions of Konokawa, but when she is an observer she can analyze who he is as a person. During the climax of Konokawa's story arch, Konokawa witnesses Osanai stripping Paprika off of Chiba and pushes himself through the movie screen in order to save her. This again makes a connection between shared dreams and movies by showing the movie screen to be both a window and a doorway to another person's dream.
In the Konokawa story arch, the connection betweens dreams experienced while we are asleep and dreams we aspire to is a subtle play on the medium it is presented in. It shows us both the connection between movies and shared dreams and the different roles people may play in dreams. On a side note, the fact that this is a movie about a man who dreams about when he wanted to make movies is both a clever metaphor for the movie's message and amusing.
Doctor Tokita is another plot central character who draws a parallel between himself and Konokawa in that they both dreamed of making shared dreams. Tokita is much more literal in this because his research produces a device, the DC Mini, which lets people share dreams while sleeping. Tokita worked on the DC Mini with the help of his friend Himoro who also shared Tokita's dream of sharing dreams. In fact both of them also shared a love for a theme park name Drearmland. Theme parks can also be seen as shared dreams between the park goers and the designer of the theme park. Ironically, Himoro is the first to fall to the shared dream that rampages through peoples minds, causing them to descent into madness. Tokita ends up following shortly after and both are lost in the shared dream.
Tokita's character is metaphor for the implicit messages of the film. Shared dreams, whether they be aspirations or visions can take on a life of their own, influencing all who touch it. The dream that Tokita and the rest of the staff working on the DC Mini shared dream swept them up in its passion just like the rampaging shared dream swept up all it touched in it's rapture, engulfing any dream it came in contact with.
“Dreams are sacred” is a line said by the chairman early in the movie, and is part of the explicit message for the movie. However, it also holds meaning for the implicit message of the movie. The chairman believed that dreams are sacred and must be protected, and he is right. Dreams, especially those shared between people are not only sacred to those people, but should be guarded, because of the power that dream can hold. All great things, whether they be a civilization, a movement, or an anime series start with a vision, a dream. Because of the power of a dream, it must also be kept in check, lest it slip everyone into madness, such as the Nazi regime of WWII-era Germany.
Dreams have the power to sweep all who touch it. This implicit message is supported sturdily on characters, trials, and explicit messages of Paprika. Shared dreams have the power to move all who they touch, regardless of their medium. Perhaps that is why it is very fitting for the film to close out on Konokawa witnessing the last dream of a great dream creator, Satoshi Kon.
Paprika. Dir. Satoshi Kon. Prod. Masao Takiyama and Jungo Maruta. Screenplay by Seishi Minakami. By Yasutaka Tsutsui. Perf. Megumi Hayashibara and Akio Otsuka. Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2006. DVD.