Living in Oblivion Written by Tom DiCillo
Dreams are awesome. They’re like films, but you’re in them. And like everything in a good film, this concept is twisted and turned into a psychological nightmare. Living in Oblivion is dreams getting their sinister reboot.
Any film an artist’s been trying to make for a long time are often described as “dreams”, or “artistic visions”, and any legitimate artists has lived with their idea. They’ve been shaped by it and moulded by it, to the destructive point of anything that goes wrong becoming a waking nightmare; but similarly, anything that goes well is considered to be the fulfilment of that dream. And there’s nothing wrong with that – in fact, if a film-maker feels that way, it means they’re doing it right. Dreams, literal or otherwise, are what drive us, and without a dream, we can’t make anything worth the stress.
Which I suppose is the point Living in Oblivion‘s trying to make. The anxiety dreams experienced by everyone prior to a shoot are happening because they’re worried about not meeting the art’s potential. And when everything goes wrong, it can feel like that’s happening. But then, in the final scene, an easy solution presents itself and suddenly, the dream’s back.
There’s a tonne more I could say about Living in Oblivion, like analysing its use of colour and shot types and the editing. All of those things aren’t used gratuitously or pretentiously, they’re present for creative relevance. But the universal appeal of Living in Oblivion isn’t the specific denotational aspects, it’s the way it’s both an accurate assessment of the artist process, while also being a confidence boost to anyone who feels absorbed by a dream that seems to be without a recalled beginning. Artists owe it to their endurance to watch Living in Oblivion.