Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rude Awakening

I had a dream that I was watching TV in a hotel room. Robert Zemeckis's Cast Away was on the free HBO, and I had tuned in just in time for the final act.

This was not the first time I had had a Cast Away-related dream, which should not be surprising, since I think it is one of the better movies. But the version in this latest dream was not quite what I remembered.

In the alternate dream cut, after five years of living alone on an island, Tom Hanks finally made his way back to civilization. But there was nobody waiting to receive him home, no press event celebrating his miraculous return. Essentially a ghost, he spent the next few days looking up Helen Hunt's whereabouts and working out what he would say to her, determined that their reunion would be as perfect as the dreams that had kept him going over the last five years.

She had remarried of course, but she was at that moment vacationing, sans husband, at her father's vineyard. Pretending to be a wine connoisseur, he arrived there while she was out walking, and he waited for her to return. Hours later, she finally appeared on the horizon, and, as the distance between them shrank, she saw and recognized him but did not appear surprised. She just smiled. There was then a montage of them frolicking and enjoying some sweet moments together.

Next she beamed and said, "I better call my mom to let her know that I won't be able to keep my promise." I understood that she meant she would have to leave her current husband.

She was lying on the ground, leaning forward on her elbows and staring up at him in his easy chair. She looked suddenly younger and happy. He was reflective, troubled, disappointed somehow.

"You took lovers while I was gone?" he asked. He already knew the facts, but he still needed to hear her answer. He needed to know that, all those lonely nights he had spent thinking only of her, she had also been thinking of him.

She didn't take it well. She suggested that perhaps what he really wanted was to know that the last five years had been just as miserable for her as they had been for him. Perhaps they had both been fooling themselves, and the true loves of their increasingly idealized memories were never who they really were.

The harsh speech went on for some time without resolution. Then they both just stopped talking.

At first it seemed like they had simply run out of words, the argument having exhausted them, but, as the awkward silence stretched on for minutes, the disillusionment on their faces turned to puzzlement, which turned to boredom. Even though it was nearly a decade-old film, it was as though the moving picture people inside that box had lost their lines, or perhaps they had reached the extent of an unfinished script and didn't know how to proceed from there. The movie just cut back and forth between shots of them each staring downward, looking out-of-place. For me, the viewing experience was like having a computer hang, its gears grinding noisily and interminably on an impossible load. I think I must have lost interest eventually and turned off the TV.

I don't remember anything more, but it must have been the bitterest movie I had ever seen, because I was still bummed when I woke up.

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