T H E  E D G E  O F  D R E A M I N G


Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

Amy Hardie’s The Edge of Dreaming is book-ended by two sequences that express her extreme contentment with her lot. These are presented, however, as a stark counterpoint to the rest of the film, which charts Hardie’s descent into terror following a sequence of dreams; one of which portended her death before her 49th birthday. At the time, Hardie was 48 years of age.

The first dream was about the death of her horse, George, who narrated his own demise in a matter of fact fashion. The next morning, Hardie found the horse dead, exactly as described. In a second dream, Arthur – the deceased father of Hardie’s son – told her that this year will be her last. This initiated a downward spiral into depression and chronic ill health, the intensity of which was matched only by Hardie’s determination to understand the mechanism of dreams and to break the hold that these specific dreams had over her. The film climaxes with Hardie, a self-proclaimed skeptic as well as writer and filmmaker on subjects scientific, meeting a shaman in order to re-enter – and thereby disable the effects of – the foreboding dream.

“In terms of seeing myself in a different way afterwards, that definitely happened once I understood how my brain worked and particularly how my dreaming worked,” Hardie comments. “The intensity of it. The huge amount of electrical connections and the energy that your brain uses up when it is dreaming – that was one big thing. Then when I understood that there were some things that happen in the real world that I only pick up when asleep and dreaming, that made me see my relationship with the world in a different way, and it has made me much more open to thinking that there are real signals that I cannot pick up easily with my five senses but which are, nonetheless, probably objectively verifiable if only we had machines that could read them.”

In the film, Hardie consults eminent authorities about the influence of dreams, and receives considered responses. A stem cell expert explains how our species wouldn’t have evolved and retained the capacity to dream if dreams were just “random firings”, before revealing how his ability to dance (“do the bop”) came to him in a dream. Neurologist Dr Soames opines that “things we subliminally know but don’t want to know are revealed in our dreams”. Had Hardie not gone to the lengths she did in order to exorcise the effect of her dream, what does she think would have been the consequence? “I think I probably would have died,” she answers.

Nick Cunningham

Online review on http://www.idfa.nl/industry/Festival/news/films-of-the-day/such-stuff-as-dreams-are-made-on.aspx