Host: Stefanie Powers.
No secrets are revealed in “The Secret World of Dreams,” an inherently engaging but overlong documentary that errs on the side of speculation. “Nocturnal visions” are a fascinating topic since most everyone has them. Yet if two hours on the subject are to fascinate, audiences must be fed more than oddities, coincidences and common sense.
Producers opt for a provocative pep rally using reenactments of unusual dreams and interviews with the dreamers. While there’s commentary from lots of Ph.D.s and M.D.s, very little factual information is imparted.
Much is made of the “real meaning” of six common dreams: Dreams of flying indicate a longed-for sense of freedom; being chased means you’re running away from something feared; being unprepared for a test is about fear of failure and judgment; a dream in which you’re paralyzed is about powerlessness; dreaming you’re naked in public reveals feelings of vulnerability and self-exposure; and finally, falling in a dream signals a fear of losing status or security.
These prosaic interpretations hardly live up to their hyperbolic billing. They’re actually used as teasers on either side of commercials.
First segment features someone who dreamt he had throat cancer before it was diagnosed. The nightmares of a Vietnam vet (who once held a knife to his wife’s throat while dreaming) lead to discussion of how the debilitating effects of dreams can be worked through.
A woman who had a heart and lung transplant dreamed about her anonymous donor (including his name) and started craving his favorite foods. Two unconvincing examples of dreams that predicted the future are offered, and we meet a man who served time for a murder he only dreamt about.
Some unscientific research on telepathic dreams is included, as are testimonials on the power of dreams to help people move beyond grief, and of erotic dreams to play a positive role in relationships.
Tour concludes with talk about how to utilize the power of dreams. Through lucid dreaming for instance, one woman claims to have lost weight by dreaming of eating. Jonathan Bach, author of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” exhorts us to pay attention to the “incredible power of dreams.”
Writer-producers Bruce Nash and Mike Fleiss must get royalties on each viewer who goes away determined to be mindful of his or her dreams. It’s like an ad campaign from the dairy board: “Drink milk”; No dream is meaningless and your life will be dramatically altered if you heed your dreams. ]
The large production team has put together a decent package. Perhaps because of their content, the dramatizations can look pretty ridiculous. Host Stefanie Powers, who earns her fee, looks out of focus in some long shots.
Despite vigorous efforts to make it tantalizing and entertaining, it’s hard to say whether viewers will stick with “The Secret World of Dreams” past the first hour. They may well start conducting their own research.