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Film's Greatest Dream Sequences


Some things just go together. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar; Victoria’s Secret lingerie and Candice Swanepoel; Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister…

To that list you can add dreams and the cinema. Hollywood might be capable of amazing feats of schmaltz and cheese, but it’s also the greatest medium in which to express the hypnotic qualities of a dream or nightmare.

What follows are our top ten dream sequences in film. See, pantomime pirate popster Gabrielle was right when she said dreams can come true.

(Images: All Star, Rex Features)

The Big Lebowski

A dancing Dude, Saddam Hussein doling out bowling shoes, Julianne Moore as a Viking vixen and our eponymous hero swirling and twirling through the legs of elaborately adorned dancers to the sound of The First Edition’s Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In), the Big Lebowski’s dream is a thing of wonder indeed.


Alfred Hitchcock hooking up with Salvador Dali for the dream sequences in the former’s classic whodunit Spellbound, what could possibly go wrong? Nothing. Gregory Peck reliving his darkest moments for Ingrid Bergman is absurd surrealism in overdrive.


Who in moments of quiet reflection hasn’t dared to dream what it would be like to score the winning goal in the FA Cup final; hit a double hundred at Lord’s and cop off with Marion Coutillard? Ok, maybe the last one is a different type of dream, but ace investigative reporter Chevy ‘Fletch’ Chase’s dream of turning out for the LA Lakers speaks to the fanboy in every one of us.

Lost Highway

It’s a David Lynch film; it has to have a lurid dream by law. Bill Pullman’s night-time sweats certainly echo the anxieties at the heart of Lynch’s creepy suspense thriller.

American Beauty

Perv alert. It’s probably not wise to lust after your daughter’s best mate, but, remember, this is the movies. They do things a little differently there. As long as Kevin Spacey doesn’t act upon his naughty dreams, eh?

Fast Times At Ridgemont High

Much like Fletch’s forlorn wish to turn out for the Lakers, Sean Penn’s Spicoli is never going to achieve the glory, or get the girls, that he dreams of in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Teenage slackerdom still looks mighty alluring, mind.

Peewee’s Big Adventure

For creatures that are meant to transmit joy, clowns are more often than not harbingers of doom, the spooky little feckers. Pee-wee Herman’s devilish dream involving the butchery of his beloved bike, captures this disturbing dichotomy perfectly.


Max Fischer’s (Jason Schwartzman) dream of nonchalantly deciphering one of the greatest maths conundrums is one that chimes with us all. Who doesn’t want to stick one up at the boss/man/suit/teacher, while seeming to not give a damn, eh?


Federico Fellini’s is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest films of all time, and this dream sequence at the beginning of the film establishes the themes of memory and fantasy perfectly.


Let’s face it; if you were serving life imprisonment on a remote island for a crime you didn’t commit, your dreams might be twisted notions of freedom too. Steve McQueen’s titular character certainly suffered from strange visions. Dark.



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