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Beautiful Dreamers

Beautiful Dreamers

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Beautiful Dreamers  When the superintendent of the Canadian insane asylum, Dr. Maurice Bucke, meets poet Walt Whitman, his life and that of his wife and patients is radically changed. Like Dr. Bucke, Whitman has avant-garde ideas on the subject of mental illness. “Dreamers” is based on true events. Dr. Bucke became an important biographer of Walt Whitman.

A worthwhile movie about Walt Whitman. A kind of 19th Century “Awakenings”

Beautiful Dreamers  I found the one and only comment about this movie entirely uninformative and altogether too harsh, so I have decided to write my own. I first saw this movie when it came out and have caught it a few times more since then. First of all let me say that, overall, the things that this movie gets RIGHT are what make it worthwhile. It doesn’t matter that it has some low budget quirks and other faults. It is worth watching. The idea of basing a movie on Walt Whitman’s visit a restrictive, narrow-minded Anglo-Canadian community in Southern Ontario and bringing people to life is a brilliant mis-en-scene. The movie is about the kind of humanizing catalysis Whitman inspired in people. And in that sense it is exactly accurate. The acting – especially by Rip Torn (Whitman) and Colm Feore as the doctor – is very good. The scripting and dialogue are strong and pay proper attention to the mores and inflections of the time. Overall, what’s not to like? Besides, name another film in which Whitman is brought so vividly to life?

Poignant and memorable

This is a movie which I think has been overlooked, by and large. Relatively few people saw it when it came out in the theatres due to the fact that it wasn’t well publicized. I read a page-long interview with the director in an alternative, local paper and I distinctly remember the director saying that he felt Whitman’s spirit helping him to direct this film, and that it had been a spiritual experience for him (the director). This motivated me to see the film and I saw it more than once before I purchased my own copy so I could see it again and again. I can tell that Whitman did indeed inspire the director because this film has so many poignant scenes like the ones with Whitman’s mentally disabled brother, to whom Whitman says, ‘you make me rich!’ The beauty of this film comes, not from analyzing the accurateness of separate details (which other reviewers inform us are less than accurate), but in allowing the movie as a whole to touch your soul.

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