See the moving picture


The Timeless Gag

Rêve et réalité (Dream and Reality)

Ferdinand Zecca, Pathé-Frères, France, 1901

This two-shot gag relies on a dissolve to cover a stop-action substitution between shots: about to embrace a beautiful young dinner companion (the “dream”—[1]), a middle-aged man suddenly wakens to find himself about to embrace his plain-looking wife instead (the “reality”—[2]). The shots in (3) and (4) come from Francis Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (USA, 1992), which features a scene at a cinématographe showing in London, where the vampire count has escorted the apparent reincarnation of his long-dead wife. One of the subjects on the bill plays a somewhat racier variation on the same gag that Zecca has adapted in Rêve et réalité. In this case, the man has dreamed up two beautiful women, both scantily dressed, and Coppola’s elaborate allusion revolves around the fact that, back home in Transylvania, Dracula’s “reality” consists of multiple scantily dressed wives; his “dream,” ironically, is to settle down in re-wedded bliss with the one woman whom he’s loved for centuries (see Reading 5.1).

Back to CHAPTER 6/Part 3