Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Movie Review - Paprika

 Figure 1, (2007), The Carnival Dream bursting through all dream realities

Paprika looks at the non-linear world of dreams and how they can be attacked and influenced by other people's ideas that effects the dreamer. 'As in other sci-fi pics featuring technology that can record thoughts, such as Kathryn Bigelow's "Strange Days" or David Cronenberg's "eXistenZ," the borders between reality and imagination keep getting blurred, creating a narrative Chinese box dreams within dreams. Playful use is made of movie allusions and general cinematic imagery building up to a reasonably nightmarish climax where, natch, Tokyo is nearly destroyed.' (Felperin, 2007) Towards the start of the film it seems obvious to the viewer which is reality and dream but then reality twists to start mixing with the horrors of the carnival and the chairman bleeding through. The carnival is the idea/ the attack that slowly infects and creeps in to other occupant's dreams that symbolises how the mind is delicate and how it could be controlled by an external force. The film uses basic fears to make the dreamscapes even more disturbing by planting in strange laughing dolls and an army of toys that walk on a march as on an actual invasion converting anything in it's path. As the film progresses, the dream images such as the Chinese doll child and Tokita in robot form start to attack the real Tokyo to demonstrate what was one subconscious has become physical and out of control. The viewer visualises the morph of the two realities through the characters losing their identity and becoming part of the carnival and through the chairman driven mad to control it.

 Figure 2, (2010), Detective Kogawa's dream

The symbolism of dreams comes across clearly in the character of Detective Kogawa Toshimi, who continuously visualises himself in different film spoof scenarios and haunted by his past.‘That's the way it is with "Paprika," an R-rated anime film that takes full advantage of animation to explore the characters' dreamscapes and the segues between those scapes and the narrow escapes the characters have in "real life." '(Plath, 2007) Kogawa' dreams symbolise his work in the film industry and how he tried to escape from it. The cycle of dream images occur repeatedly in the film, that try and give clues to the viewer of why the character has always been put in the same scenario's that spoof other films such as Tarzan and Film Noir. Kogawa's story runs parallel with what happens in the dream terrorism sequences because at the end of the film the viewer discovers that Kogawa's jealousy for his director partner held back his confidence. This resulted in an incomplete film but the other man reveals that Kogawa is the central character of that film as has been living a life of fiction , which again questions the audience's belief of what was the real world and what was the dream.

Figure 3, (2011), Paprika spliting to show true form of Atsuko

The character Paprika is an alter ego of the research scientist Chiba Atsuko and appears as two completely different people so that as Paprika, she can be friendly and help patients to recover from their mind illnesses. 'Parika asks, "Who shall control our dreams?," which, given this film's take on the cinematic nature of the unconscious, is really asking, "Who shall control the movies?" (Denby, 2007) This relates to how in dream realities, the boundaries and limitations can be broken, to allow Dr Atsuko to become an entirely different personality and become part of various patients worlds that they have conjured in their minds as it is simply a place of fiction. The boundaries are tested further when Kei splits the butterfly form of Paprika to as she were a chrysalis to reveal the true pureness of Atsuko that has been hiding inside. Also in the Tokyo scene both personalities appear in the same realm and there still seems to be a connection between them as a person but Paprika takes command of herself as if she has become her own identity but then rejoins Atsuko to suck away the evil of the chair man. Atsuko learns that meddling with dreams brings it's own consequences.


Figure 1, (2007), The Carnival Dream bursting through all dream realities, @, Accessed on: 2007

Figure 2, (2010), Detective Kogawa's dream, @, Accessed on: 16th January 2010

Figure 3, (2011), Paprika spliting to show true form of Atsuko, @, Accessed on: 30th March 2011


Denby David, (2007), The New Yorker - Not Kid's Stuff - Paprika, @, Accessed on: 21st May 2007

Felperin Leslie, (2007), Variety Reviews - Paprika, @, Accessed on: 25th May 2007

Plath James, (2007), Movie Metropolis - Paprika Review, @, Accessed on: 8th December 2007

2.5/ 5

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