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Dreams Rewired

Narrated by Tilda Swinton
A film by Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart & Thomas Tode

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Tilda Swinton's hypnotic voiceover and a treasure trove of rare archival footage culled from hundreds of films from the 1880s through the 1930s—much of it previously unseen—combine to trace the anxieties of today's hyper-connected world back a hundred years. Then, too, electric media sparked idealism in the public imagination—hailed as the beginning of an era of total communication, annihilation of distance and the end of war. But then, too, fears over the erosion of privacy, security, morality proved to be well-founded.

DREAMS REWIRED traces contemporary appetites and anxieties back to the birth of the telephone, television and cinema. At the time, early electric media were as revolutionary as social media are now. The technologies were expected to serve everyone, not just the elite classes. Human relationships would become stronger, efficiency would increase and the society would be revolutionized… But these initial promises were very different from what new media eventually brought to daily life.

Using excerpts from early dramatic films, slapstick comedies, political newsreels, advertisements and recordings of scientific experiments culled during years of research in film archives around the world, co-directors Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart and Thomas Tode unearth material that is by turns hilarious, revelatory, beautiful and prescient. The archival footage, combined with poetic narration and a virtuosic score by Siegfried Friedrich forges a cross-generational connection between contemporary viewers and their idealistic forbearers of a century ago.

"A lively, visually enthralling attempt to gaze into the future by remembering the past."The New York Times

"In brilliant archival footage, DREAMS REWIRED shows us becoming ourselves."Los Angeles Weekly

"Poetic… a film whose images of the past predict not only our present but our future."Chicago Reader

"Thrilling… the meticulously chosen clips are often hypnotic, but the instinctual narration is what grips the viewer."

"A feast for fans of early film."New York Post

"A film about the present and the future, illustrated with images of the distant past… A marvel of montage, charming and bizarre and frequently funny."Flavorwire

"A complete blast; what's old is new again."Santa Fe Reporter

"Beautifully rendered... well crafted and meticulous." Tiny Mix Tapes

"Marvelous… thorough and clever!"The Guardian

"Playful and provocative."The Hollywood Reporter

"A brilliant and superbly edited analysis of the evolution of technology; with smart, often feminist commentary, and astonishing material; the film offers a thoroughgoing and witty archeology of the media."Robert Stam, University Professor at New York University and author of books including Keywords in Subversive Cinema/Media Aesthetics and Film Theory: An Introduction

"4 Stars! A marvelous essay film [that] leaves you fantasizing about what things there are to come."Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian
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"A rich, media-archaeological account of the intertwined histories of visionary technologies, communication cultures, and cinema."University of Amsterdam Association of Moving Image Archivists

"This film essay features an intricately, crafted voice-over by Tilda Swinton, melding together historic fact and contemporary theories."Screen International

"A remarkably timely, compelling and revelatory exploration of the obscured origins of the full spectrum media environment we all inhabit; a work that learns from the past, with insight of an artist-innovator-theoretician's trio, to inform and illuminate current and ever more pressing concerns."Gareth Evans, Film Curator of the Whitechapel Gallery, London

"Weird uniqueness! … a certain DECASIA-like power to conjure dreams of its own."Huffington Post

"Stunning ... exceptional... one of the must-see new documentaries of the last few years. I still cannot believe what the makers have achieved and just on a level of cinematic journey, it is amazing. As a total work, it is highly impactful and highly recommended."Fulvue Drive In

Best Documentary, 2016 Austrian Film Critics Award
CPH:DOX Copenhagen Documentary Festival
BendFilm Festival
Kansas International Film Festival
Filmfest Hamburg
Jerusalem International Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
Filmfest Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Internationales Frauenfilmfestival
Diagonale 2015
Berlinale International Film Festival
International Film Festival Rotterdam

85 minutes / Color
Closed Captioned
Release: 2015
Copyright: 2015

For individual consumers (home video)

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This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Art, Cinema Studies, Communications, Cultural Anthropology, Film History, Media Studies, Science and Technology, Urban Planning & Design

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