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9 Films with Dreamlike Settings
Get inspired 12 Jan 2021

9 Films with Dreamlike Settings

The relationship between visual arts and films is one that has always been close. Throughout history, films have been respected as pieces of art in their own right. The artistic vision, the camera angles, the costumes, the composition of a frame, all these components work together to create the final product. The skills used to put together cinematic masterpieces are honed to a fine craft by everybody involved, much like the creation of a painting or a sculpture. In this article, Artsper has compiled a collection of films from recent years that will transport you deep into their otherworldly cinematic universes. 

1. Moonlight (2017)

This film received much critical acclaim when it first came out in 2017. Since then, it has been hailed as one of the best films of the 21st century. We first meet the main character, Chiron, during the height of the crack epidemic in Miami. The film follows his story as he navigates growing up during this time as a gay black man. Throughout the film, incandescent beauty, a compelling rhythm, and true depth are masterfully interwoven with the relevance of the subject. A real intensity is present in every aspect of the film. The intensity of the feelings portrayed and the scenarios and story lines that are depicted.  The lyrical, dreamy aura of the film transgresses the usual stereotypes linked with ideas of minorities. From the dark themes of this film, comes an indescribable elegance and light.

Ebuka Michael, Hardwork and discipline, Photographie sur papier fine art Hahnemuehle
Ebuka Michael, Hardwork and discipline, 2020, available on Artsper

2. La La Land (2016)


A classic tale of boy meets girl in a vintage, bubblegum version of Los Angeles, full of neon lights and captivating sounds. It’s the LA of everybody’s dreams. From a waltz in the stars to sets reminiscent of Old Hollywood musicals – the film is charming and nostalgic. Careful attention to color, with powder purple sunsets and costumes in bold primary colors, enchantingly frames the story. This modern musical will leave you feeling sentimental, uplifted and yearning for long summer evenings.

Dani Garcia Sarabia, Usa'90 Hollywood
Dani Garcia Sarabia, Usa’90 Hollywood, 2001, available on Artsper

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)


Wes Anderson is known for his stylized universes, where each aspect is curated ever so carefully in order to create delightfully entrancing films. The Grand Budapest Hotel is no different. Each scene features a dominant color, which more often than not, contrasts with the bright purple uniforms of M.Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and the lobby boy (Tony Revolori). This clash of colors adds to the absurdity of the already whimsical story line. This is a beautifully rendered cinematic experience that will make you wish you were living in a Wes Anderson film.

Slim Aarons, Eden Roc Hotel, Photographie sur papier
Slim Aarons, Eden Roc Hotel, 2020, available on Artsper

4. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)


The mood of this movie is created with a pervading wash of melancholic blue. The numerous allusions to the paintings from Picasso’s blue period allow us to better understand the director’s choice. Picasso considered blue to be the most suggestive of a melancholic state of mind. The presence of this color immerses the viewer in a moody atmosphere from the beginning with the color of Emma’s hair. Throughout the film, the character Adele is constantly linked with blue. When she is bathing in the sea, idle and dejected, the camera, immersed in the water, shows her body in symbiosis with the aquatic blue. This film poetically expresses the turbulent journey of self discovery and the intensity of your first all encompassing love. 

Lidia Vives, La Chambre Des Malades, 2014, available on Artsper

5. The Tree Of Life (2011)


Terrence Malick is a filmmaker known for his dazzling aesthetics and his images charged with strong cinematic ambition. By exploring advanced cinematic techniques with an impressive depth, the movie does not aim to incite viewers to concentrate on a particular place. On the contrary, it aims to give them the possibility to ponder the whole image. Majestic scenes of nature, take you all the way from the forests on Earth to images of outer space. Ultimately, this film is a cinematic spectacle that opens your eyes to the wonders of life. 

Tony Ellwood, In No Time #18, Photographie sur papier
Tony Ellwood, In No Time #18, 2012, available on Artsper

6. Laurence Anyways (2012)


Often criticized for its over-aestheticism, this movie by Xavier Dolan is a meticulous work of image, light, costumes, textures. In conjunction with this is an omnipresent soundtrack and dreamlike sequences. Many find faults in some of the shots in Laurence Anyways. Critics claim it is striving for “arty pub” aesthetics. However, the fact is that this undeniably kitsch portrayal, is indisputably beautiful and dreamy. 

Cristina Rizzi Guelfi, Dreamhouse Series n.16, Photographie sur Dibond
Cristina Rizzi Guelfi, Dreamhouse Series n.16, 2018, available on Artsper

7. Her (2013)


In the movie Her by Spike Jonze, red is stripped of its usual sensual associations and is instead a cold color. This decision was made by Jonze as he wanted to distance himself from the all too clichéd use of blue to signify sterility in sci-fi films. Throughout the film, the color speaks for itself. From tulip red, raspberry red, orange red, pomegranate red and amaranth pink, Her has more shades of red than we can imagine. Trying to get rid of a barren and empty vision of the future, the movie repaints everything in red, from shirts and furniture to the smartphone Theodore Twombly uses to communicate with his lover 2.0. 

Alain Nahum, Figuren, 2014, available on Artsper

8. Frances Ha (2012)

frances ha

In this movie, Noah Baumbach shows us his aesthetic side, which coincides with the chromatic choice of several urban photographers. “I chose black and white to highlight the feeling of renewal: filming it this way allowed me to see the city through different eyes, to fall in love with it once again. I wanted the movie to be joyful, romantic, and generous like the character of Frances Ha. This was the purpose of doing it in black and white, since it makes things beautiful and it gives them rhythm”. The results of this is a film that, although devoid of color, is not devoid of meaning. Instead, it resonates deeply with the viewer and allows us to enter a dreamy world that cannot be pinned down. 

Maud Chalard, Lost and Found, Photographie sur papier de coton
Maud Chalard, Lost and Found, 2019, available on Artsper

9. Gravity (2013)


Describing the journey of two survivors of a devastating accident in the middle of space, the movie draws you in with its visual, surreal, breathtaking beauty. The image, the performance, the weightlessness, make Gravity one of the few movies where the viewer is almost in the same position as those he is watching on the screen. Suspended in the air, amongst the stars and looking down on the Earth, this film really is the stuff of dreams or perhaps nightmares…

Maxence Doré, Terre 2100 - Planet fire
Maxence Doré, Terre 2100 – Planet Fire, 2020, sur Artsper

Here are 9 films that will transport you to otherworldly dimensions, where life is portrayed just slightly differently to reality. Through playing with colors and visual trickery, the directors of these films succeed in creating visual masterpieces, all whilst telling compelling stories. Feast your eyes on these films and allow yourself to enter into their dreamy worlds.