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IN DREAMS

About The Production
From "In Dreams"' conception to conclusion, paranormal parallels run deep

From "In Dreams"' conception to conclusion, paranormal parallels run deep.

Initially, the story sprang from an idea surrounding reports of police departments hiring psychics to track down murderers. Screenwriter Bruce Robinson was then commissioned to flesh out the plot. Later, Neil Jordan came aboard, drawn to the alluring yet murky aspect of the metaphysical world floated in a horror tale.

It was what Jordan calls the "startling image" of the story's opening that immediately grabbed him: divers probing the remains of a drowned town for the victims of a serial killer, while on the surface a tortured Claire Cooper, drowning in her relentless premonitions, probes the depths of her dreams for clues to the killer's next move. As the killer stalked his victims, so too does he stalk her mind. In time, the dark secrets of his past would play out in both realms.

For Jordan, the gripping metaphor allowed him to delve into the uncharted waters of a disturbed mind through the underexplored and scientifically taboo realm of clairvoyance.

It was the underwater town that enhanced not only the story's dimension of a buried, hideous past but also the plot "driven by what happens in dreams," notes Jordan. "The visualization of dreams allowed me to deal with multiple levels of reality, and afforded me the opportunity to tell the audience something that the central characters don't know. Only Claire and the audience see the terrifying truth of her visions."

Producer Stephen Woolley, who counts "In Dreams" as his ninth collaboration with Jordan, adds, "What we both found fascinating about this particular story was the strange blend of psychological drama and the supernatural, horror genre.. .where things are not quite what they seem. Neil and I have always enjoyed looking at the problems of the inner mind. This film very much plays on the haunting of the conscious mind.

"Claire is driven to find out the truth of her dreams and the person behind them. The more obsessed she becomes," Woolley says, "the more crazed everyone thinks she is. They all misinterpret her behavior as delusional or paranoid. Only the audience knows she is right."

So does the killer.

"He knows me and I know him in a way that nobody else can understand" explains Annette Bening of the disturbing connection between her character, Claire Cooper, and the killer. "Because of that, I am drawn to him in a way that no one can understand. He is able to enter my mind.. .and I eventually enter his."

The opportunity to portray a strong, multi-dimensional female role had attracted the interest of several actresses during the casting of Claire. However, Jordan-who had long been an admirer of Annette Bening-met with her and was convinced that she was the right choice to handle the challenging part.

At first, Bening acknowledges, she was hesitant about tackling the role. "This is an uncompromising story and I found it very scary, very dark, with a terrible sense of dread, delving into our worst fears."

The actress continues that it was Neil Jordan's approach that ultimately sealed her involvement in the project. "You can have a great piece of material but the primary concern is the director. As an actor you are there to serve the director's vision. I knew-with a story like this-that Neil was the kind of director who would explore it in an artistic way, not a sensationalist one. He made the difference for me."

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