But that can’t be!
It was only a dream!
When Sonja wakes up this morning, nothing is as usual anymore. She is threatened by a scary stranger and has to confront her deepest fears…
“Somnium” (Latin: the dream) is a psychedelic thriller inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and C.G. Jung. It’s not appropriate for kids.
Background information and Making-Of
Making this film almost took a year. In the pre-production phase I had been looking for a female actress for a long time, until I finally found Manuela Gallina. She’s an Italian who had been living in Germany back then. She is an artist herself and was enthusiastic about the film. The stranger is played by Johannes Wissmann, an actor who was working at the Semper Opera in Dresden.
The score was composed by a good friend of mine, a DJ called jazz.K.lipa who composed some dark tracks for the movie.
The Art of Somnium
Creating “Somnium” was not only about writing a script and shooting and editing a movie. My goal was to develop a kind of conceptual piece of art that goes beyond the film. There is a detailled storyboard of 76 drawings and I also created eight large paper cuts (70 x 100 cm) for the movie.
In many Hitchcock films there are birds. Norman Bates, the killer from “Psycho” is stuffing birds in his free time and decorates his motel with them. In every room there are bird pictures. His victim’s name is “Crane”. Hitchcock seems to have used birds as a symbol of chaos and danger, the epitome of that symbolism is his masterpiece “The Birds”.
I wanted to develop that basic idea further. In my film there are pictures at the walls that show birds as well as cats – but the birds look much more dangerous. The roles of hunter and prey are interchangeable. I am a fan of California-based artist Josh Agle (a.k.a. SHAG). The images on the wall as well as the storyboard were drawn in his style. There are only unicolor shapes that cast no shadows, which is the total opposite of what is actually shown: madness behind a shiny surface.
The message of “Somnium”
One could summarize the film in one sentence: “Confront your own darkness.”
The young woman in “Somnium” dreams of a faceless black man, who is extremely menacing. The psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung speaks of an “animus”, a male part in a woman’s psyche who she has to integrate. There is a polar opposite called “anima” in the male psyche. In the film Sonja kills the black man – therefore she’s killing an essential part of herself. Her attempt to call the police fails. When finally a policeman arrives, he is also faceless and points towards the black man again. Ironically, the policeman and the animus are portrayed by the same character. The protective forces of her soul urge her, to confront her inner darkness.
Everyone of us has these dark spots inside, may they be weaknesses of character, bad experiences in our past, irrational fears or just underdeveloped personality traits. Sometimes our dreams point to their existence metaphorically. Unfortunately we suppress a lot of the things our dreams want to tell us. The reason can be a lack of understanding (or interpretation) or the unwillingness to change. I think, most things in life are repeated again and again until we have either learned their lesson or have hardened our hearts so much that we don’t realize they are even there. In the film, the plot is repeated and the woman’s face is mirrored infinitely in the bathroom.
Confronting your own darkness can lead to a transformation – it turns into light. A traumatic experience in the past can be a driving force for doing good to others. Accepting your own weaknesses can lead to an inner calmness and an attitude of being relaxed about imperfections.
Welcoming male and female aspects in your own soul turns us into balanced, mature and enjoyable people who don’t have to define themselves by what others say about them.
I admit that this positive aspect is missing in the movie. Well, in the end, it’s only a short film.