March 21, 2003
The legend of the Dreamcatcher comes from Lakota folklore, a story in which an old spiritual leader had a vision where Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared to him as a spider. Spider-Iktomi picked up the elderly man's willow hoop, which was decorated with feathers, beads, horsehair and offerings, and began to spin a web as he told his story.
He talked to the elder about the cycle of life and how the forces of good and evil can affect the destinies of men. Iktomi explained how the cycle becomes complete when man hits old age and must be taken care of, just as he was as an infant. By the time Iktomi finished speaking, he had completed the web, and he handed it to the old man and told him that the web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center, to be used to help people achieve goals by making proper use of ideas, visions and dreams. "If you believe in Wakan-Tanka, the great spirit, this web will capture your good ideas, leaving the bad ones to pass through the hole." The spiritual leader passed the story on to his people, and now many Native Americans hang a dreamcatcher over their beds to capture the good and sift out the evil in their dreams and visions. They say that the dreamcatcher holds the destiny of the future.
This theme will be the underlying presence throughout Dreamcatcher, the latest movie adaptation of a Stephen King novel. Directed by past Academy Award®-nominee Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist), the tale is a throwback to some of King's more horror-based works, such as It, The Tommyknockers and The Stand. William Goldman, who worked on previous King adaptations Hearts in Atlantis and Misery, along with wonderful films like The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, handled the screenplay.
A solid cast has been assembled to bring the Invasion of the Body Snatchers-esque story to life. The four primary characters will be played by Jason Lee (Chasing Amy, Vanilla Sky, Almost Famous), Thomas Jane (The Sweetest Thing), Damian Lewis (HBO's Band of Brothers) and Timothy Olyphant (Go, Scream 2), with supporting cast including Donnie Wahlberg (Band of Brothers, The Sixth Sense), Morgan Freeman and Tom Sizemore (Black Hawk Down).
Set in King's ubiquitous Derry, Maine, the plot follows four friends who have been telepathically linked since childhood, thanks to an intense experience with a neighbor who is affected by Downs Syndrome; a human Dreamcatcher of sorts. All of the men have their own individual problems: Beav (Lee) has bad luck with love; the intellectual, Henry (Jane), is considering suicide; Pete (Olyphant) is succumbing to alcoholism; and Jonesy (Lewis) has been having strange premonitions ever since he got hit by a car. The four gather at a favorite cabin located deep in the woods for a hunting expedition, where things start to get weird.
An old man named McCarthy (again, a nod to the star of the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers) stumbles into their camp. He is completely disoriented and is muttering about lights in the sky. In the midst of a vicious blizzard, the friends are soon immersed in a horrific struggle with not only a creature from another planet, but also a psychotic army general. Their only chance of survival may lie in the friends' shared past with their friend Duddits (Wahlberg), the Dreamcatcher.
Though the film is categorized as sci-fi/horror, its most fascinating aspect may be the psychological drama involved. Jonesy's experience following his accident clearly stems straight from the similar experience that King had when he was nearly fatally hit by a car a few years ago, and the fact that the men communicate telepathically, even while struggling to control their own bodies and brains, offers a unique approach and a different brand of terror than a typical horror film.
Expect Warner Bros. to hype the creepy angles when they market the film to a mass audience. Though King adaptations tend to be extremely up-and-down as far as box office, Dreamcatcher is nonetheless a tantalizing project on paper that definitely has strong potential to find success. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Comparison films for Dreamcatcher
|Green Mile, The
|Hearts in Atlantis
|Grand Canyon *