The Movie Buffer

Friday, August 17, 2007



Das Ich, das Uber-Ich, das Es...das spoiler


Imagine a world where you could experience someone else’s dream world as vividly as they can, where doctors could dive into your subconscious to treat your neuroses – this is the world that Paprika explores.

Dr. Atsuko, the primary researcher, and her partner, the genius engineer Dr. Tokita, have created the DC mini, a machines that act as a gateway into the dream world. They quickly realize that their creation has great potential for both good and evil. Unfortunately evil is afoot, so Atsuko, Tokita, and their coworkers become unwitting pawns in a plot to hijack the dream world. In order to restore the balance of power, Paprika must separate the malevolent dreams, which are poisoning the dreamscape, from the normal dreams.

The film is plentiful with references to psychodynamics and dream analysis. The three main characters can be seen as the three divisions of the Freudian psyche: Atsuko as the super ego - the conscience, the moral center; the villain as the id – the instinct, the impulse center; Paprika as the ego - the mediator. (If you think Freud is bunk, then Maclean’s Triune Brain model also works.) The secondary characters can be parsed along these lines as well, in both real and dream worlds. Through the extensive use of the DC mini, a collective unconscious is created between the users and, as time passes, everyone. This development allows Atsuko to dive into the unconscious to figure out what may be causing the problems.

Throughout this film’s run it has garnered high praise from pretty much every critic and anime fan. The juxtaposition of two distinct playing fields, the structured hustle and bustle of Tokyo and the freedom of the dream world, allows the director, Satoshi Kon, to use contrasting tempos, styles, animation techniques to create visually captivating film. Another facet of the film that is outstanding is the soundtrack, which is a mash-up of an orchestral score with electronica.

The problem with eye-popping visuals is that they can distract from a lack of story depth. Though this particular film is rather good, there were some loose ends at the end of this film that I would have liked to seen tied up.

Paprika pushes the boundaries of traditional animation to new heights and shows how intricate, imaginative and intellectual the medium can be. The animation, the music and the imagination of the director all mesh perfectly and the result is nothing less than awesome. This film is a 7.5/10 or three and a half stars out of five.


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