Dream Factory Movie Review (In Detail)

Spoilers Alert:

The team behind “Our time is now” is showing off DREAM FACTORY (de. TRAUMFABRIK) once again that it has understood the medium of film better than anyone else in the local industry. Her tragicomedy is equal parts love letter to filmmaking and love itself. We reveal more about this in our review.

The aging Emil (Michael Gwisdek) tells his son the story in flashbacks.

The plot summary

Summer 1961. Emil (Dennis Mojen) is an extra in the DEFA studio in Babelsberg and not only causes a lot of chaos there, but also falls head over heels in love with the French dancer Milou (Emilia Schüle). The two seem destined for each other. But then they were separated by the border closure on August 13, 1961. A reunion seems impossible until Emil comes up with a daring plan: he wants to make a film under a false name – the biggest film ever made in Babelsberg. He has his sights set on Beatrice Morée (Ellenie Salvo González), for whom Milou works as a dance double, as the leading role. Beatrice is actually impressed with her leading role as Cleopatra. But when the two women actually arrive in Berlin a short time later, some things have changed fundamentally and Emil is faced with completely new challenges…

Dream Factory Movie Meaning & ending

Around two and a half years ago, Martin Schreier’s “Our Time is Now” appeared on the screens of the Republic with over 200 copies. But on the opening weekend there were only enough for 23,700 visitors. Not a complete failure, but still a shockingly bitter result when you consider that box office magnet Til Schweiger was printed boldly on the poster and the film was marketed as a “Cro-film” – and the rapper with the panda mask was booming at the time. But as is the case with most film gems, they are not always accessible to the general public. And the meta-film, which is often tonally contradictory, confused, but always coherently held together, is one such film. Director Martin Schreier and his screenwriter Arend Remmers (“Snowflake”) proved back then that they could not only make German cinema look great, but also that they had the desire to break with its existing rules. They tried new things within the framework of a single film until something very special was created with “Our Time is Now”: a love story, an animated film and a showbiz satire in one. And watching the ensemble in great spirits get to grips with this dramatic chaos is just a lot of fun. The latest work by the Schreier-Arend duo looks much more conventional at first glance. A classic romance, embedded in a piece of German-German history. However, the successful ingredients from “Our Time is Now” can also be found here, because their tragicomedy, aptly titled “Dream Factory,” is only partly a love film and partly a film about filmmaking, which the makers are always aware of.

Emil (Dennis Mojen) admires Milou (Emilia Schüle) for her grace.

At one point in “Dream Factory” a sentence is uttered that couldn’t sum up the film as such more perfectly. The main character Emil was just confronted with the fact that his numerous supporting actors looked too deeply into the glass the night before filming. At the upcoming coronation ceremony, the men dressed in Roman costumes are supposed to just stand still, but the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption make this impossible. Without further ado, Emil improvises an earthquake scenario, to which the Cleopatra actress Beatrice counters in disbelief that there was no earthquake at all at the time. “This is a film!” Emil calls out to the crowd with a grin, thereby summing up the fascination of the cinema, but also of “Dream Factory” itself. After all, anything is possible in film. And those responsible here really make the most of this freedom. As a viewer of “Dream Factory” you should definitely not expect a faithful recreation of reality. Instead, the audience is presented with a romance constructed in the best sense of the word, the kind that can only take place in Hollywood (or in Babelsberg). Of course, this also brings with it some pitfalls. So there will certainly be people who will accuse the film of kitsch, over-dramatization or a lack of realism. And let’s be honest: you’re not wrong about that. But what would a big screen romance be without pompous vows of love? What would it be without the moments of perfect harmony, without sentimentality, yes, what would it be without that kitsch that has such negative connotations these days?

What distinguishes the kitsch in “Dream Factory” from the typical schmonzette drama of other films in the genre is the sincerity with which Martin Schreier stages it here. This wouldn’t be possible without the appropriate technical setup. For those who know “Our time is now”, the following short description is enough: For 128 minutes, “Dream Factory” maintains the style of the first five minutes of the Cro film, which – as Cro himself so beautifully put it – was unfortunately only available back then that same five minutes could do. But it doesn’t matter whether the budget of “Dream Factory” was really that much higher than the resources that Schreier and his team once had available for “Our Time is Now”, or whether cameraman Martin Schlecht (“Amelie Runs”) simply has even better skills than his colleague: “Dream Factory” simply looks stunning. Now it has become common practice to simply deny German films of exquisite visuality their existence as “German films”; many take this as a compliment. “Dream Factory”, on the other hand, confidently carries its German roots forward. Not just on the narrative level, where the love story about Emil and Milou is embedded in the tragedy of the building of the Wall that is unfolding in the background. Visually, the makers have no reason to try for a decidedly international look. Opulent backdrops, crystal-clear images and precise lighting give “Dream Factory” screen dimensions that never clash with the panoramic images of the Babelsberg film studios or divided Berlin; on the contrary. “Dream Factory” creates awareness that German cinema as such does not need to hide and can look both expensive and high-quality. Maybe “Dream Factory” will finally bring about a turnaround for the tarnished image of German film – you can still dream.

Milou arrives at the bridge; The borders were closed overnight

By setting the story on a film set, the staging play with the meta level is of course obvious. It can happen that in the middle of an emotional dialogue, countless rose petals suddenly fall from the ceiling, simply because Emil knows full well that this will make the moment particularly dramatic. And of course “Dream Factory” doesn’t avoid some common genre tropes; After all, we are in the cinema here and as Emil himself tells us, you can bend everything here as the situation (and yes, perhaps the audience) demands. Unlike in “Our Time is Now”, here Schreier foregoes the absolute madness – that wouldn’t have suited “Dream Factory”, which, despite all its self-referentiality, still tells a classic love story. This is carried by Dennis Mojen (“Nowhere”) and Emilia Schüle (“Once upon a time Indian Country”) , who delivers the most mature performance of her career here. The stunning chemistry of the screen couple not only grounds “Dream Factory” but also gives it its amusing nuances. Emil’s blindly in love and desperate attempts to finally end up with his beloved are characterized by such naivety that you simultaneously keep your fingers crossed for him and still shake your head; After all, a much bigger drama is currently raging outside the gates of the film studios. Meanwhile, the scene stealers turn out to be Ken Duken (“Berlin Falling”) , whose character Alex doesn’t really know whether he should save his brother from the biggest mistake of his life or just let him do it. Over the course of the film he becomes the audience’s biggest identification figure, when the fascination finally takes over. Heiner Lauterbach (“Welcome to the Hartmanns”) also performs strongly as the skeptical general director, as does Thomas Heinze (“Lies and Other Truths”) as an eccentric directing genius.

The very clear focus on the lovers pushes some elements into the background that perhaps could have used a little more attention. The backstory surrounding the construction of the wall and the borders being closed overnight becomes a trigger for the all-important Cleopatra odyssey, but remains a side note with the exception of a dramatic arrest in the middle of the film. The many supporting characters also generally fulfill clichés and are not given more consideration than is necessary for their function in the film. This can be criticized, in the context of the film, but above all as what those responsible see their “dream factory” as, this handling of trivialities is methodologically consistent. Everything outside of Emil and Milou’s mutual awareness hardly takes place; In the end, the couple’s undying love is bigger and stronger than anything outside of their little life (or rather, dream) reality. We know this from “La La Land” or “The Artist”. Choosing a film studio for this couldn’t be a more apt commentary on the power of cinema as a refuge and creator of dreams – it is a dream factory.

Conclusion: “Dream Factory” is a declaration of love to filmmaking and love itself, told in great Hollywood images, which does not deny its USA roots and is always sincere, even in its celebrated kitsch.

“Dream Factory” can be seen in USA cinemas from July 4th.

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