Salvador Dali’s Dream Sequence in the film Spellbound.


The dream sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Spellbound (1945) is probably one of the most famous dream sequences in Hollywood Cinema. The sequence is a spot on interpretation of psychoanalysis and Freud’s theories on the unconscious.
The dream sequence itself is extremely vivid and absurd. The production design is magnificent and so surreal and full of bizarre images. It feels like watching a painting of Dali in motion. The dream sequence is supposed to accomplish two things in the film. The purpose of the sequence is to, first help explain Peck’s character’s mental state- frazzled to say the least. The second is to provide clues to the audience about the actual murderer.
I’ll briefly outline the sequence: It starts with a bunch of eyes (apparently, Peck’s feelings of being watched and hunted), turns into a gambling hall with eye curtains, which are being cut. A girl is going around the table kissing everyone. The dream turns to a game of Blackjack with a bearded man, followed by a confrontation with a masked man in a tuxedo (obviously the murderer). The dream that zooms to the bearded man falling off a building (with some really weird perspective) and then basically a figure running down a pyramid with wings behind it.
Dali envisioned scenes that were basically impossible to film, but snippets of each survive. These include ideas to have a ballroom scene filled with dancers with grand pianos suspended over the heads. Another idea included Ingrid Bergman coming out of a classical Roman statue, with ants and something else. I think Hitch was a little horrified by that one- and neither idea came to fruition.

Dali was involved with the filming, but I would give much artistic credit to the film’s art director, William Menzies, who was given the difficult job of organizing the designs, making them fit into the plot and the film’s time limit. The end result is magnificent, albeit bizarre.

If we had more time I would like to experiment in a similar way for the Deathbed 2 due to the fact that it’s a dream sequence as well but a I would choose a more contemporary approach and pay close attention to color- since we are filming in color. I would like to make masks for the characters of Mabel and Claudia, especially in the end when the dad pulls his daughters’ hands together and thats when he starts to realize its a dream and not reality. I would also like to have the nurse in different color uniforms (if we had a bigger budget) when and if we place her in different corners in the room in order to separate reality from dream.


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