What Dreams May Come

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.85:1 non 16x9, DD 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 108:44 Other Extras Featurette-Untitled
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection,
then Menu
Region 2,4 Director Vincent Ward

Universal Home Video
Starring Robin Williams
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Annabella Sciorra
Max Von Sydow
Case Super Jewel
RRP $34.95 Music Michael Kamen

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English For The Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    What Dreams May Come is another one of those movies that improves with subsequent viewing. My wife and I saw this movie theatrically when it was first released and we both thought it was not too bad. Not great, mind you, just not too bad. My wife, who is more heavily into 18th and 19th century art enjoyed it far more than I did, but more on that topic later. Revisiting this movie on DVD was something that I undertook with a degree of trepidation. Fortunately, I enjoyed it far more second time around than I did the first time.

    What Dreams May Come stars Robin Williams as Chris Neilson, a paediatrician with a zest for life. He is married to Annie (Annabella Sciorra), a painter, a woman he loves dearly. They have two children, Marie (Jessica Brooks Grant) and Ian (Josh Paddock). The children are cruelly taken away from Chris and Annie by a car accident, and they are left with each other, to cope with life as best as they can. Four years pass, and Chris is also cruelly taken away, also by a car accident.

    Here is where the movie's journey really begins, in the afterlife. Chris finds himself in his own personal heaven, a painting by Annie, through which the two of them can subtly communicate. Chris has a guide through this early part of his journey, Albert (Cuba Gooding, Jr.).

    Driven to the depths of despair by the loss of her two children and her husband, Annie commits suicide, which Chris initially greets with some positivity since they will soon meet - sadly this is not to be the case, as "suicides don't go to heaven". Thus Chris undertakes a journey through scenes which are recreations of 19th Century visions of heaven and hell to reach Annie.

    The special effects are quite remarkable in this movie, and serve the story well, once the initial sense of special effects wonderment subsides and you accept them for what they are - a representation of Chris' personal heaven. This is a very visual movie, and a very sombre story, so have those tissues handy since you'll need them. All in all, I found this a satisfying, if somewhat emotionally draining, movie.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is nicely defined, sharp and clear. The majority of the movie is very darkly lit, and yet generally there is plenty of subtle shadow detail to be seen. This particular movie is one which will be best viewed in complete darkness, as otherwise all of the superb and subtle shadow detail will be lost to ambient light. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are always appropriately rendered, from sombre grays and browns, to vibrant greens, to the radiant pastel shades of Chris' heaven. All manner of different styles of colour are presented here, and the DVD is exemplary in bringing them all out to perfection. Of particular note are the frequent white-outs between scenes, which are beautifully clean and clear.

    MPEG artefacting consisted of some minimal shimmer of the opening titles (the Gibb effect) but this was so minor as to be hardly noticeable. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some trivial aliasing that will pass you by unnoticed. Film artefacts are rare, with the only irritating one at a particularly dramatic moment involving Robin Williams early on in the movie where a large film artefact appears momentarily on his forehead.


    There are two audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1 and German Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Dialogue was clear and very easy to understand at all times. Indeed, this was a highlight of this particular transfer. Whilst there was not copious amounts of dialogue in this movie, the dialogue that was present was quite important to the progression of the story. Of particular note is the complete silence that accompanies the logos at the start of the transfer - I defy you to sit through these without at least casting a glance at your receiver to confirm that it is turned on.

    Audio sync was spot-on throughout.

    The music was by Michael Kamen, and was predominantly symphonic in nature, setting a variety of moods according to the on-screen action; despair, hope, sadness, and joy are but some of the emotions evoked by the excellent scoring of this movie.

    The surround channels were subtly but very effectively used throughout the movie. This is by no means an "in-your-face" surround mix, but whenever the surrounds were used, they were used well. There were specific scenes which are worthy of mention - many of the scenes in hell in particular were very enveloping, with voices and sound effects placed all around the listener with eerie effect.

    The subwoofer was used subtly but effectively to underscore the music and the on-screen action. It never called particular attention to itself, but just provided that necessary extra oomph when required.



    This is 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

Featurette - Cast & Crew Interviews

    This is merely an extended promotional featurette in the usual style of such things, and of little value.


    This contains very detailed production notes and detailed cast biographies.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this DVD is the one to go for.


    What Dreams May Come is an interesting movie that will not be to everyone's tastes. It is certainly worth at least a single viewing, however.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
21st March 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Palsonic DVD-2000, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer