DVD cover for What Dreams May Come

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What Dreams May Come

What Dreams May Come is a 1998 drama film, starring Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Annabella Sciorra. Max von Sydow also appears. The movie is based on the 1978 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson, and was directed by Vincent Ward. more...

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The title comes from a famous line in Hamlet's soliloquy in Act 3, scene 1(To be, or not to be). Scenes in the movie, as well as the plot outline in the novel, contain several allegorical references to Dante Alighieri's 1308 epic poem Dante's Inferno.

The film was released by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.


Williams plays Chris, a pediatrician. Sciorra plays his wife Annie, who runs an art gallery. They have two school-age children (Ian and Marie), a housekeeper (Angie) and a dog (Katie).

Cuba Gooding plays Albert, a character who proves to be more complex than we are initially led to believe.


The afterlife scenery is generally immersive, with digitally implemented paintings intended to evoke the Renaissance. Characters and scenery interact well.

The movie won the Academy Award for best visual effects category.

Plot Summary

The movie opens with Chris and Annie's meeting on a lake near Switzerland. The viewer is then treated to a quick montage describing their courtship and marriage.

When Chris's son and daughter are killed in a car accident, Annie becomes mentally unstable. She attempts suicide by cutting her wrists, and enters a mental hospital. Chris helps her the best he can, and finally she recovers. However, on an anniversary of her recovery, Chris is killed in yet another car accident.

Chris experiences life after death, although it takes him a while to accept that it's more than a dream. A handsome African-American man, Albert, (Gooding) guides him through his grief and confusion, and then shows him the beauty of the heavenly realm. At first, Chris believes Albert to be his friend and mentor from his medical residency, whom he calls "Doc." Albert guides Chris to an understanding of his condition, but even he is surprised when a glorious purple tree appears in Chris's personal section of heaven. It turns out that the tree matches a new painting of Annie's; the two are soul-mates, and anything she paints appears in Chris's heaven. Unfortunately, Annie destroys the painting in a fit of despair, and the beautiful tree withers.

After getting adjusted to the spirit world, Chris meets a beautiful Asian woman who shows him a children's realm in heaven. She asks Chris to share a memory with her, and he tells her about teaching his daughter, Marie, to play chess. In turn, she explains that she took the form of a stewardess because her father once admired that stewardess' special beauty. Suddenly, Chris recognizes their location as a diorama his daughter loved in life, and she reveals she is Marie. On earth, she was tom-boyish and wanted to look more feminine when she grew up. In the heaven of What Dreams May Come, a person is able to achieve their lifelong desires, and appear however they wish.

Read more at Wikipedia.org

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