that good stories can survive almost anything you can throw at them, in
this case a low budget and a bad DVD transfer.
Based on a novel of the same name by science fiction luminary Ursula K. le
Guin, The Lathe of Heaven is a made-for-American-public broadcast TV
movie first broadcast in 1980.
In a near future Oregon a man finds that whatever he dreams becomes true in
the real world. One evening for example he dreams that his aunt was killed
in a car accident, and the next morning the phone call comes that this has
indeed happened! The young man's power is almost God-like in its scope: in
one dream he dreams that it is a sunny instead of a rainy day, and indeed
the weather clears up for the first time in several weeks.
Nobody seems to notice these abrupt changes however, except for the man's shrink, who decides to use the young
man's powers to improve the world
and under hypnosis suggests that his patient literally dream the world into
becoming a better place.
The road to hell is however paved with good intentions as they say, and the
dreams never have their desired effect. When the young man for instance
imagines a world without any conflict, the Earth is invaded by aliens
against whom the nations of the world then unite. Hardly the ideal solution
. . .
THE DISC: Unfortunately the original film materials of this almost
two-hours-long movie got lost and this belated DVD release consists of a new
digital master created from the surviving 2? tape which was then color
corrected. Unfortunately image colors still have that washed out look. The
sound, while not great, is perfectly serviceable. However, a problem seems
to have gotten in with the compression as the image quality never seems to
transcend that of a VCD as some scenes are incredibly grainy and there are
even motion blurs and trails whenever there are movement in any dark scenes.
much in the line of extras though: just an interesting fifteen minute long
interview with author Ursula K. le Guin on whose novel the movie is based.
WORTH IT? The movie is well-acted and despite the low-budget makes
some clever use of 1970s architecture. Even though it was only made in 1979,
the movie feels much older - like some pre-Star
Wars science fiction made in 1971 or even earlier. Part of the problem
is some of the Logan's Run-style zipper
costumes. The movie's strength however lies in its story, one which
keeps one spellbound for most of the running time or at least towards the
end when the movie lapses into obscurity and it is difficult to figure out
just what exactly is going on.
RECOMMENDATION: Literary hard science fiction types who read a lot
will find lots to appreciate as it is one of the few pure SF novels
to have been diligently adapted to an audiovisual format. ?Seventies sci-fi
geeks will love it to bits.