I vaguely understood the point of Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003) and have underestimated it until a mini-epiphany I had this morning. The movie focuses on the perverse story of two siblings who express their unusual feelings for each other through a third party. In the background of the siblings’ obsession with cinema and their deviated sexual games, the French students’ riots take place, events these almost completely ignored by our playful protagonists until the very end. I always understood the characters’ refusal to face the real world; not only understood it but sympathized with it, even identified with it.
Yet, I only intellectually understood their specific method of reaching their aim until this very morning, when while contemplating some unnecessary personal drama instead of doing what I had to – write, translate – I realized that I was drowning myself in a kind of semi-artificial sorrow in order to prevent myself from accomplishing other things; depleting any source of energy for work by channeling it in a direction that comes naturally to me and is a greater source of pleasure without requiring much effort. In one instant, I thought of the movie and grasped the motives of the siblings: in an isolated world of their own creation and under their control, the siblings try to desperately cling to their childhood, refusing the interference of the outside world.
In the end, the contact with the uncontrollable violence of the outside world hurts them. The meaning became clear and I thought of the words of a friend of mine which I understood better in connection to the movie: sex is the last refuge of the scared, the fearful, a play world in the case when you are too scared to go outside and face your limitations but, even more importantly, the exhilarating capabilities of actually creating something.by Kleitia Vaso