Study Guide

Requiem for a Dream What's Up With the Title?

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What's Up With the Title?

Sweet Dreams are Not Made of This

Everyone knows what dreams are. You have them while you're asleep. You have them while you're bored in class or at work. And in Brazil, you can eat them.

But what's a requiem? Merriam-Webster defines it as "a mass for the dead" or "a solemn chant" accompanying it. In other words, it's a haunting piece of music played at a funeral or memorial service. Well, we already covered the score (check it out here if you haven't already), so we'll talk more about the dream itself.

The most vivid dream in the film is one that comes to Harry while high. He sees Marion on the docks in a red dress. There's no noise, only the sound of waves. Harry walks toward her, but he doesn't reach her. The dream is interrupted by Ty returning with drugs.

Later, Harry and Marion have this little chat.

MARION: I love you, Harry. You make me feel like a person. Like I'm me. And I'm beautiful.

HARRY: You are beautiful. You're the most beautiful girl in the world. You're my dream.

At the end, Harry has a similar dream after his arm is amputated, but this time, Marion disappears from the end of the docks. She's gone forever.

You don't have to be Carl Jung to interpret this dream. Harry can't connect with Marion because drugs get in the way. The movie shows us this dream—the relationship between Harry and Marion—slowly dying over the course of about an hour and a half. It's like a memorial service for their relationship, and for the dreams the others characters have.

Everyone's dreams are shattered at the end of the movie, broken beyond repair. Like a person who dies, there is no way to bring them back.

Cue the music, if only to drown out the sound of us crying.

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