Monday, April 19, 2010

More about What Dreams May Come

Acquire a Splendiferous-Looking Copy of The Risen book here.

An avid supporter and student of The Risen drew further attention to some material that cites major differences between the book and the film of What Dreams May Come, as reported at Wikipedia. We cite this here not as authoritative source, but to stimulate further thought by illustrating how the way ego-mind hungers for drama, drama, and more drama, exemplified by the way, in this case, a filmmaker may change things to suit ego-mind's agenda. The book itself may have been inspired by spirit, as the author notes below, which seems quite likely, and in spite of ego-mind's attempts to disguise truth, still manages to come through in powerful ways in the film.

The novel has significant differences from the film, in both its plot and its vision of the afterlife. Its approach to the love story is considerably less sentimental, its tone more scientific than fantastic.

There are far more references to Theosophical, New Age and paranormal beliefs. Indeed, the author Richard Matheson claims in an introductory note that only the characters are fictional, and that almost everything else is based on research (the book contains an extensive bibliography). Story elements that do not show up in the film include astral projection, telepathy, a séance, and the term "Summerland" (the name for a simplified Heaven in Theosophy, and for Heaven in general in earth-based religions such as Wicca).

The details of Chris's life on Earth also differ strongly in the novel. Only Chris and his wife (called Ann) die. Their children, who are grownups rather than youngsters, remain alive, as minor characters. Albert and Leona are exactly the people they appear to be, and the character played by Max Von Sydow does not appear in the book at all. Albert is Chris's cousin and not African American as in the film, while Leona's ethnicity is not divulged. Chris and Ann are rural, country types rather than the urbanites portrayed in the film, and he is not a pediatrician, nor is she a painter. He's a Hollywood screenwriter, and she has a variety of jobs.

The afterlife imagery is based on natural scenery rather than paintings. The Heavenly environment doesn't automatically mold itself to people's thoughts, as it does in the film; some practice and expertise is required to build things. The novel's depiction of Hell is considerably more violent than in the film. Chris finds it difficult to move, breathe, or even see, and he suffers physical torture at the hands of some of the inhabitants. He does not encounter ships, thunderstorms, fire, or the sea of human faces that he must walk upon in the film. Instead, he and Albert climb across craggy cliffs and encounter such sights as a swarm of insects that attack people's bodies.

Ann is consigned to Hell for only 24 years, not eternity. At the end, which resembles an alternate version of the film but not the standard version, she escapes from Hell by being reincarnated, because she is not ready for Heaven.

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