I had a dream…

A Hollywood agent was sitting on a yoga mat somewhere in Santa Monica and a studio executive was sitting next to him. They began to talk.

Hollywood Agent: Look, last night I saw this reality show on PBS…

Studio Executive: …I think they call them documentaries…

HA: Yeah, maybe. Whatever. So, I’m watching this…show, and it’s the perfect setup for your next fall tent pole film. It’s got Oscar written all over it.

SE: Keep talking.

The Edge of Dreaming

HA: Imagine the perfect life: a beautiful, artistic woman is living in a beautiful farmhouse with a beautiful, thoughtful husband and their three beautiful children, some beautiful horses and a beautiful cat.

SE: Where’s this taking place?

HA: They were speaking English so I think England or Australia, but we’re gonna change that. I’m thinking Montana.

SE: OK. What’s the woman look like?

HA: Cate Blanchett. She’s a dead ringer. Definitely Cate. But, well, if you want an action sequence, then I’m thinking Angelina Jolie. But pick Cate if you want the Oscar.

SE: OK, go on.

HA: The woman is haunted by dreams and she takes lots of baths. Think What Lies Beneath. She dreams of her horse dying, and a Spanish ex-husband haunts her and tells her she’s going to die at 48.

SE: Can we make that 38?

HA: Sure!

SE: So, it becomes Stepmom meets Bucket List, right? There won’t be a dry eye in the theater.

HA: Well, actually, I was thinking more haunted than sad or humorous. So she starts freaking out, thinking she’s about to die. And this ghost of her husband — I’m thinking Javier Bardem will play him — keeps visiting her. So she goes on all of these vision quests, meets a shaman, and then you know what happens?

SE: She doesn’t die, does she?

HA: No, even better: She’s already dead. She’s been dead since the first scene of the movie when she fell off her horse which also died, throwing her into a stone wall. It all comes back to her just like in The Sixth Sense.

SE: Pretty good. But then what about the sequel possibilities?

HA: OK, sure. Well, we don’t have to kill her. Let’s do it differently. She could be seeing all of this in the moment she falls from the horse, but then she takes a giant gasp, indicating that she’s going to live. And we fade to white.

SE: I’ll get Cate’s agent on the phone.

Okay, so maybe this wasn’t a real dream that I had. It’s more of a daydream inspired by The Edge of Dreaming</strong. While watching this stunning documentary, I was thinking about how, in dreams, anything is possible. So why not a little daydreaming in a blog?

It’s a little surprising that until The Edge of Dreaming, documentaries have rarely caught on to the liberating creative power of dreams. My particular flight of fantasy was inspired by Amy Hardie‘s film because, I think, there’s something so familiar (thus my riff on the Hollywood conventions) and yet so elegiac and artful about the documentary. So, here’s your homework assignment: let us know if you have any dreams the night after you see The Edge of Dreaming. I’d love to hear how Hardie’s film sends ripples into your brain.

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Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He is a former Premiere magazine senior editor, who graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom's freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. He has written several Kindle Singles, including the bestselling Kindle Singles Interview: Ken Burns. Tom's current list of favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi by Godfrey Reggio; 2. Hoop Dreams by Steve James; 3.Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley; 4.Crumb by Terry Zwigoff; 5. Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen