WHAT DREAMS MAY COME
Ward lost the plot somewhat with Map of the Human Heart (1992), an Inuit romance where his fascination with imagery neglected the films crucial emotional core. Since Map of the Human Heart, Vincent Wards output has been erratic he became caught up among the revolving door of directors attached to Alien3 (1992) and only ended up with story credit; he spent some time working on a Beowulf project that collapsed; and was then being forced to direct commercials and take bit parts in films like Leaving Las Vegas (1995) and One Night Stand (1997) in order to stay off the unemployment line; as well as subsequently developed The Last Samurai (2003), which was taken over by another director. His profile has not improved greatly following What Dreams May Come, even though the film was a reasonable success. In 2004, Ward returned to New Zealand to film River Queen (2005), an historical drama set during the Maori Wars, but this sank amid enormous production problems that at one point had Ward fired. Wards only film subsequently was the documentary Rain of the Children (2008).
However, What Dreams May Come shows Vincent Ward on form and the film was his most mainstream release to date. What Dreams May Come is an adaptation of the 1984 novel by acclaimed genre novelist/screenwriter Richard Matheson, author of the likes of I Am Legend (1954), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Duel (1971), most of Roger Cormans Poe films in the 1960s, and numerous episodes of Twilight Zone (1959-63) and Star Trek (1966-9), among others. Vincent Wards work on the film is extraordinary. He lights the screen up with impossible vistas of the imagination a vast library where gondoliers drift through canals between the bookshelves; Robin Williams having to walk across a sea of living faces as he enters Hell; valleys and oceans filled with castles and cities that have been constructed out of works by classical masters, amongst which people nonchalantly fly; houses casually sitting amidst the Gothic arches of the roof of an inverted cathedral. In an extraordinary synthesis of artistic vision and cutting edge digital effects technology, Ward gets to literally paint on film. In the most wondrous section, Robin Williams steps into a landscape that is a Vincent Van Gogh painting come to life where he slips and slides through the paint of some of the giddiest and brightest oil colours imaginable. The sheer breadth of Vincent Wards vision in What Dreams May Come is astounding.
One of Vincent Wards failings in the past has been a fascination with imagery at the expense of emotional soul. However, thanks to a good cast and an especially strong script, he has ample compensation here (apart from Annabella Sciorra whose bland performance makes one wonder what Robin Williamss love is all about). The films humanist reworking of the Orpheus and Eurydice legend at the climax is powerful.
Richard Mathesons other genre scripts are: The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) based on his own novel, Roger Cormans Edgar Allan Poe adaptations The House of Usher/The Fall of the House of Usher (1960), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962) and The Raven (1963), the Jules Verne adaptation Master of the World (1961), the occult film Night of the Eagle/Burn, Witch, Burn (1961), the morticians comedy The Comedy of Terrors (1963), The Last Man on Earth (1964) based on his novel I Am Legend, the Hammer psycho-thriller The Fanatic/Die, Die, My Darling (1965), the classic Hammer occult film The Devil Rides Out/The Devils Bride (1968), the historical biopic De Sade (1969), Steven Spielbergs first film Duel (1971), The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973) tv movies, the haunted house film The Legend of Hell House (1973), the tv adaptation of Dracula (1974), the tv movies Scream of the Wolf (1974), The Stranger Within (1974), Trilogy of Terror (1975), Dead of Night (1977) and The Strange Possession of Mrs. Oliver (1977), the tv adaptation of Ray Bradburys The Martian Chronicles (1980), the time travel romance Somewhere in Time (1980) from his own novel, Jaws 3-D (1983), Twilight Zone The Movie (1983), and numerous classic episodes of The Twilight Zone, Thriller and Star Trek. Works based on his novels and stories are The Omega Man (1971) from his I Am Legend, the fine ghost story Stir of Echoes (1999), I Am Legend (2007), The Box (2009) and Real Steel (2011).
(Winner in this sites Top 10 Films of 1998 list. Winner for Best Special Effects and Best Production Design, Nominee for Best Director (Vincent Ward) and Best Adapted Screenplay at this sites Best of 1998 Awards).