Lit React ~ Analysis & reactions on works of fiction.

13 Apr 2012

(Movie - 2001) Vanilla Sky, directed by: Cameron Crowe

(Reaction) In A Head is Everything One Sees by: Patrick Shane Diaz

Vanilla Sky is a film set in the future, though operating in the present day. The theme of the film varies at different parts of the film, just like the setting. The theme moves from a crime drama, to a love story, to a realization of life in itself. Being set in the dreams of the protagonist, the venues used are different, such as an interrogation room, and the everyday world. These become the overarching theme and setting, the choice between fantasy and reality, and the lucid dream of the protagonist, respectively.

David Aames is the protagonist, the owner of the lucid dream that the film depicts. He gets into an accident that changes his appearance. However, he prioritizes the reconstruction of his face, demonstrating the fact that he is an insecure person. David believes that being aesthetically beautiful is a requisite to be able to fall in love. Even after he is told that his looks do not matter, he still forces the reconstruction, proving that he is a person that has to constantly reaffirm himself by looking at the mirror every day. David is the type of person who loves reality but due to unforeseen circumstances is forced into a fantasy wherein he controls the events that unfold in his life.

Sofia Serrano is the object of David's affection, and the reason that David chose to go into cryogenics and Life Extension. Her character is very attached to him, even after the things that David did to her.

It is possible that the unravelling events have no effect towards Sofia because she is projected the way David knows her, which is barely. Her actions in the film after the point of reference, where she still accepts David after what happened with the accident, cannot be construed to reflect her real character.

Sofia could merely be David's mind choosing his desired unfolding of events and making Sofia act them out; or Sofia's character making decisions based on the way that David knows her. It can be seen however, that her character is somewhat slaved to David, and very different from the way she was depicted before the point of reference for Life Extension.

Julianna is the character who falls in love with David, and gets him into the accident right after he spends the magical night with Sofia. She is a stalker, unable to bear the hurt that David finds another girl. Her character is bitter and extreme. She is entranced by David's looks, providing him the attention that he needs. She and David both show selfishness in life, David by choosing to flirt with Sofia even if his best friend brought her as his date, and Julianna refusing to allow David to choose who to love.

As David's control of his dream is taken over by his unconscious, he begins hallucinating, killing Sofia in the process, portraying his fear that his relationship with Sofia is fake and bound to fail. Being in jail, he is counselled by Dr. Curtis McCabe, who tries to make David realize the crime he has committed. He represents the father of David, as projected by David himself, as his personal checks and balances so as to bring him back into control over his dream. It is this psuedo father figure who brings David to his senses, ie. who forces David to question the reality around him.

Life Extension was the means used in the film as a way to look back in one's life, and ask the question what if. It became a haven for people with deep regrets, hoping to have a do over in life. Having the option to choose the point of reference for the dream gave these people a chance to play out different options to their previous decisions made. Now the issue here is whether or not this program is ethical, wherein someone can just go into a dream and live in it, controlling the events to unfold.

Moreover, would doing this procedure really be considered as a life extension or merely as a dream? It said that the dream is done to keep the brain alive. However, for some people, it becomes a restart for regrets and reliving moments.

One of the questions in the film asks why David chose that moment as his point of entry into the dream. Why not before he chose to get in the car with Julia? This shows that David accepts his mistake in getting in the car, but cannot live with the fact that he pushed Sofia away that night. Does this say that he cared more about what he did to Sofia rather than what happened to him after riding in the car with Julia? It seems so, but it can be seen that the decision to get into the car was not the turning point in his life. He chose this point because this was where he finally pushed Sofia away. This was his turning point, this was his what if moment.

In the end, David chooses to jump back into real life. Being in his dream, seeing where the events unfold, his lunacy that causes him to kill Sofia, makes David realize that even he cannot control events and people in that way. There are some things out of his control, and that is the beauty of real life, not knowing anything, nothing in your control but yourself.


Life is never easy nor fair. Do-overs never happen in life, for life is a one-way street. Tripping on this one-way street will hurt, but the most you can do is stand up and keep walking. No one can go back and start from where he or she tripped. Yes, you may analyze and rerun why you tripped, but in the end, the most you can do is learn to not trip the next time something similar comes along.

David should have never gotten into that car. Life is unexpected, life is real. Control over everything makes it boring to the point of lunacy and craziness.

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