Hero & Villain Archetypes in Film: The Dreamer

Hero & Villain Archetypes in Film: The Dreamer

A Chapter by Keaton S. Ziem

Analysis of specific character archetypes in film, citing examples. In this case; we examine The Dreamer.




“If Pinocchio became real and I become a real boy, can I come home?” David, A.I. Artificial Intelligence


“I’ll see you in another life… when we are both cats.” David Aames, Vanilla Sky


The Dreamer is an imaginative individual, capable of visualizing a fundamentally different world from the world they are in, and seek to achieve it. Dreamers are idealistic and their actions are governed by ethics and morality. Though The Dreamer tends to be self-motivated, pursuing goals for the goal’s own sake, they can be daunted by obstacles of the real world since they tend to be of the ‘leap before you look’ school of thought. The Dreamer is also at risk of overstepping their bounds or biting off more than they can chew. However�"should The Dreamer realize their perfect world, they achieve their ultimate happiness�"as a Dreamer is seldom guilty of overestimating the value of his or her dream.


Dreamers in Film:


Dreamers in film are usually placed in heightened, exaggerated, or otherwise unique scenarios that allow them to ‘dream big’. Chris Nielsen (Robin Williams, What Dreams May Come) is placed in the vast realm of heaven & hell to find his dream. Bastian (Barret Oliver, The Never Ending Story) buries himself in the mythical world of Fantasia. Sarah (Jennifer Connelly, Labyrinth) is thrown into the dream-like land of the Labyrinth in the same fashion that Alice is confronted with Wonderland; a mysterious world with a new set of rules that must be learned before the character succeeds. The Dreamer is sometimes placed in a literal dream, as is Joel Barish (Jim Carrey, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind); one in which he has no hope of escaping. Despite the scenario, it is the character’s own imagination that ultimately propels the story.


Examples of Dreamers in Film:


David (Haley Joel Osment) A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001): Monica (Frances O’Connor) & Henry Swinton (Sam Robards) adopt an advanced robot child named “David” to replace their son who lays comatose in a hospital. Once they activate David, his love for his “mother” Monica is irreversible. When Monica & Henry’s real son recovers, they no longer need David and Monica lets him go rather than having him deactivated. David decides to seek out “The Blue Fairy” to make him a real boy, like Pinocchio. This leap in logic for an artificial mind so resembles a real child’s imagination that David becomes a character who is more real than his human family, making David a Dreamer character.


Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) The Truman Show (1995): Truman has been filmed his whole life 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and broadcasted into millions (if not billions) of televisions world-wide, without his knowledge. Even though he has no reason to question the only world he has ever known, some instinct in Truman’s mind is slowly provoked until he discovers the truth for himself; overcoming every obstacle until he literally crashes into the walls of his world. Truman’s ability to dream of a different life for himself leads him to his road of discovery.


David Aames (Tom Cruise) Vanilla Sky (2001): David’s life might seem perfect from the outside, even if he’s a man who takes all his good fortune for granted, but something is still missing. This is made clear once he’s treated to a physically deforming car accident that disfigures his face and puts his character to the test. As his sanity teeters to a dangerous degree, David must get to the bottom of his own madness; is he crazy, or is this all a dream (nightmare?) he’s trying desperately to wake up from?

© 2011 Keaton S. Ziem

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Added on October 2, 2011
Last Updated on October 2, 2011


Keaton S. Ziem
Keaton S. Ziem

Los Angeles, CA

I was raised in a cabin in one of the largest Ponderosa Pine forests in the continental United States. I had nothing to do with the amount of trees that grew there. I am an only child with two brot.. more..