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The "Dream Sequence" in Audition

Page history last edited by TJ Rivas 13 years, 10 months ago

An interesting narrative aspect of the film Audition by Takashi Miike is a set of scenes referred to as the “dream sequence” which takes place near the end of the film. There are several opinions on when the sequence begins, when and if it ends, and who is having this experience. Other opinions may say that there is no such thing as the “dream sequence” and that the events that take place near the end of the film are simply part of the narrative structure and meant to be taken as is. Here we will discuss some of the “dream sequence” theories that are more commonly thought of in regard to this film.


One look at the part of the film we’re calling the “dream sequence” could place the onset from when Aoyama drinks alcohol in his apartment that has been drugged in some way by Asami. This seems to be the most popular opinion of those who have discussed this strange idea of a “dream sequence” taking place somewhere near the end of the film. Asami (never seen but later events point to her as the unseen person) enters Aoyama’s house and sees a picture of his late wife. There is then a shot of an alcohol bottle, which Aoyama later drinks from and then appears to enter a drug induced state, as well as the disappearance of the beloved family dog. Aoyama comes home to drink the alcohol, as mentioned, and then Asami enters, having been hidden in the home. After this point we see Aoyama fall to the floor as we are quickly cut to a view of what looks like a previously seen date between Aoyama and Asami. This is the point where we would say the “dream sequence” of Aoyama begins.


Where this “dream sequence” ends is a little more blurred. You could argue that it ends when we actually see Aoyama hit the floor after he has relived portions of dates we were not shown before as well as interacted with his deceased wife and the girlfriend of his son and seen the man held prisoner in the burlap sack in Asami’s apartment, you could also argue that the sequence initiates immediately following the death of Aoyama's wife at the beginning of the film. Some of this long set of scenes could not be possible for Aoyama to know or see without some sort of “dream sequence” which may or may not have been caused by being drugged (such as speaking with Aoyama’s deceased wife). Adding to the complexity of this sequence, one could argue that the reason behind Aoyama having these images in his head is based on Asami speaking to him about her past while he is drugged and semi-unconscious. Another view would be that these images are the result of some sort of cosmic psychological journey Aoyama takes while being drugged and tortured where he sees the images included in the “dream sequence.”


About half-way through the film we encounter the quintessential boy meets girl love story sex scene (aside from the fact that no sex is actually shown). It is possible that the “dream sequence” begins immediately following this scene. After a quick flip on the bed we are shown Aoyama sans his lover Asami. Aoyama then receives a phone call from the hotel staff, after which we know that Asami has left. We are also told that the phone has been ringing multiple times during the day and that Aoyama has not heard, or been able to hear, these calls (“we called a few times but no one answered”). An argument can be made that Asami could have drugged Aoyama at some point around the no-sex sex scene and this is why he never heard the call. His consciousness and reality is then in question from this point forward in the story. Does he really go in search for Asami where he discovers secrets from her past? Or is Aoyama in a drug induced stupor in his apartment all along, listening to Asami describe her past and motive for the metal wire saw action to come? And what is the deal with the recurring bag sound? How is it even possible for Aoyama to comprehend exactly what that sound relates to, especially having never entered her apartment.


The logical portions of the scenes following the hotel part, such as Aoyama speaking with Yoshikawa in their office, could simply be Aoyama’s brain hallucinating while trying to make sense of the terrible drug altered situation he finds himself in. The images following the hotel scenes could be a visual journey through Aoyama’s mind as he pieces together information being told to him by Asami, moments before she starts the violence.


Perhaps the “dream sequence” is formulated in Asami’s mind as she mentally recaps her difficult history which led her to the life she leads now. The different secrets we learn about Asami, from the abusive pedophile piano man to the disembodied man kept captive in a sack in her apartment (supposedly her old boyfriend), all must have built up in a way to cause her to pursue feats such as sawing off Aoyama’s foot in his apartment (notice the man in the sack is also missing his feet). While it is a bit of a stretch to consider the “dream sequence” from Asami’s perspective because Aoyama appears to be playing detective throughout most of these scenes, stranger narrative aspects in film have been seen before. The film itself is not straightforward enough to warrant that the idea of Asami being the one undergoing this visual recall in the “dream sequence” as not being plausible, although many of the elements depicted here (the burning, the dancing, the underlying implications of childlike innocence) relate to the fleeting redemptive archetypes which are completely necessary in order to fully understand her character. One could even say that this sequence is necessary to the film solely for that purpose.   


Due to the nature of the narrative in this film there are holes in almost every strategy of analyzing this “dream sequence.” Where it begins, how it ends, whether it’s purely memory based or drug induced, etc. are all aspects of the sequence which can be argued from a number of different perspectives. Miike leaves the questions open ended and up for interpretation. Some have even questioned whether or not the sequence is nothing more than a sequence of scenes juxtaposed for the mere sake of comprehending the film. Although this is purely speculation, it does seem like a decent way to write, or direct, yourself out of a bizarre corner.




Extra Comments:

So I went WAY over the word count so I decided to stop it here but more detail could be added to each of these if need be, as well as any other theories anyone out there has. Also, I feel like there needs to be a clip or something here but because there are so many different ways of looking at the "dream sequence" and they're kind of long clips I didn't know which one(s) to put up. Ideas?

Comments (1)

Sean Desilets said

at 1:58 am on Dec 3, 2009

* This page is fantastic. I agree of course that more detail could be addressed, but I just love the way this account is written and how it deals with the strange nature of the scene. It's also very funny.
* Other people probably have opinions on this sequence.
* I think the pictures work pretty well to convey the immense variability of the sequence. I could imagine a clip to indicate that the sound of the bed-roll thing seems to resemble the sound of the sack--and there are other specific things like that.
* Some attempt to understand what the sequence seems to be communicating might be useful

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