Lathe of Heaven (1980 film)

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"His dreams control our destiny, but who controls his dreams?" "Ursula K. Le Guin's sci-fi masterpiece." A psychiatrist tries to change the world through a man whose dreams literally come true.


Scene from Lathe of Heaven (1980 film)...
  • Release Date: 1980, remade in 2002
  • Country/Language: US/Germany, English; US/Canada, English
  • Genres/Technical: Sci-fi, Fantasy, made-for-TV
  • Setting: Cthulhu End Times; near-future
  • Runtime: 1 hr 45 min
  • Starring: Bruce Davison, Peyton E. Park, Niki Flacks (1980); James Caan, Lukas Haas, Lisa Bonet (2002)
  • Director: Fred Barzyk, David R. Loxton; Philip Haas
  • Writer: Usula K. Le Guin, novel; Diane English (1980 screenplay), Alan Sharp (2002 screenplay)
  • Producer/Production Co: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Taurus Film, WNET Channel 13 New York; A&E Television Networks, Alliance Atlantis Communications, Baumgarten Merims Productions
  • View Trailer: (1980), (2002)
  • TVTropes: (link)
  • Wikipedia: (1980), (2002)
  • IMDB Page: (1980), (2002)


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: TV-PG (mild Violence, brief Nudity, mild Profanity and Adult Content)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • Ss___ (One and a Half Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; vaguely similar in tone)

Can be thought of as an extension of the Dunsanian Dreaming concept, in which powerful dreamers can shape the Dreamlands, while powerful Dreamlanders in turn shape dreams of our world in their dreams.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Most reviewers seem to prefer the 1980 version by a wide margin.
  • (review needed)

Synopsis (SPOILERS)

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

A therapist manipulates the mind of a man who can alter reality through his dreams.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • Dr. William C. Dement, the famous sleep researcher who founded the Stanford Sleep Clinic and for many years taught the popular "Sleep and Dreams" class at Stanford University, was a consultant to Ursula K. Le Guin and is thanked in the closing credits of the 1980 film.
  • Dallas was chosen as the backdrop for the 1980 movie's futuristic setting because its many mirrored buildings and unusual architecture made it look futuristic.
  • The 1980 film was the first made-for-TV film to broadcast on PBS; on the night of the first broadcast, there was a major power outage in the Pacific Northwest, preventing author Ursula K. Le Guin from watching the film based on her own book on its first run. She was able to see the film in a subsequent showing, but the film was blocked afterward and could not be shown for 20 years due to a copyright conflict over the use of a Beatles song in the movie; at last, using a cover of the same song resolved the conflict and allowed the film to be seen by the public again.
  • Bruce Davison, who played George Orr in the 1980 teleplay, was a co-producer on the 2002 remake. Because of the premise of the 2002 movie, it can be seen as either a remake of 1980 film, or its sequel.
  • The 2002 movie begins and ends with a quote from Andrew Marvell's poem "The Garden": "The mind, that ocean where each kind Does straight its own resemblance find; Yet it creates, transcending these, Far other worlds, and other seas."

Associated Mythos Elements

Keeper Notes

  • The investigators come to suspect that their dreams are being exploited by scientists, cultists, or Mythos forces, to reshape reality.
  • Alternatively, an NPC who suspects that his/her dreams reshape reality come to the investigators for help either with taming the power, or to stop the shadowy forces the NPC believes are exploiting the dreams for their own sinister ends.
  • Alternatively, the investigators find that powerful dreamers are being manipulated by shadowy forces for the purposes of altering reality.