Like Blue Monday 88, I’m not doing this because of Atomic Blonde (2017). Movin’ on.
Sweet dreams are made of these. Who am I to disagree?
Not me with this song or video. But I don’t think the 1985 biopic about Patsy Cline had the right to call itself Sweet Dreams.
It’s riddled with problems from the fact that it doesn’t have a story to tell to something as simple as continuity. It also has no dignity.
Sweet Dreams (1985, dir. Karel Reisz)
Sweet Dreams (1985, dir. Karel Reisz)
Yes, it really does cut directly from that sex scene to Patsy Cline ironing her husband’s shirt with a closeup of his last name–Dick. What a wonderful way to honor her memory. An obviously rushed production made to cash-in on the success of the producer’s 1980 film about Lorreta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter.
I knew about this song beforehand, but I will give credit to the 1996 NBC TV Movie, Sweet Dreams, for reminding me it exists by it featuring Marilyn Manson’s cover version.
Sweet Dreams (1996, dir. Jack Bender)
Sweet Dreams (1996, dir. Jack Bender)
I do have a copy of this movie where then Tiffani-Amber Thiessen gets amnesia. I spent a decade looking for it after its original airing in 1996, and that 1985 film didn’t help my search when the TiVo was looking for movies with the title Sweet Dreams. It’s not weird!
Neither is the fact that the origin of this video begins with Dave Stewart having a lung that kept collapsing.
In the book, I Want My MTV, he states that he was quite ill at the start of the group because he had a lung that kept collapsing. I don’t want to paraphrase what he has to say about how he came to love mixing images with music, so here’s an excerpt from the book:
I had just gotten out of surgery, and they must’ve given me tons of morphine or something, because my head started to explode with the idea of visual imagery and making music. From then on, I was obsessed with videos.
Just before that, a weird thing happened: I was walking down the street in Australia and stepped on something quite hard. I looked down and it was a solid gold bracelet. I picked it up, and as I turned the corner, I saw a pawnshop. I swapped the bracelet for an 8mm cine camera. From that moment on, I was always filming. I started to understand about putting imagery together with music.
There are two obvious questions that come up when you watch this music video:
- Why the cow?
- How did they get away with Annie Lennox wearing a matching suit with Stewart?
Jon Roseman, producer: Dave had a tremendous feel for images. People often ask me, “How did you come up with the idea of the cow?” I tell them, “Dave just said, ‘Let’s have a cow.'”
If Stewart wants to be a smoking caterpillar, then he gets to be a smoking caterpillar.
Don’t Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers (1985, dir. Jeff Stein)
If Stewart wants a cow, then he gets a cow.
It doesn’t matter how difficult it may have been to do so:
Dave Stewart: I presented the treatment to the label, and they could not understand the bit with the cow. The cow was complicated, because we were in London, and the cow had to go down an elevator into the basement. The farmer who owned the cow was really agitated.
Annie Lennox: “Sweet Dreams” was shot in a basement studio in the middle of London. There was an elevator big enough to take the cow down from the ground floor. That was one of the most surreal moments I’ve had–being in a building with a cow walking around freely.
Little known fact, Dave Stewart is a Beastmaster.
Annie Lennox: During the scene where Dave is sitting at a prototype computer, tapping the keyboard, the cow’s head came really close to him.
Annie Lennox: I could see that happening and I thought, Oh shit, what is the cow going to do? It was almost nudging him. And Dave is so intuitive, he just rolled his eyes, so it looks like there was some kind of understanding between him and the cow. Like the cow had been told, “Right, so you do this and then Dave’s gonna do this. And…ACTION!”
Look into the eyes of Dave Stewart!
Lennox explains the purpose of the cow:
In a way, the video is a statement about the different forms of existence. Here are humans, with our dreams of industry and achievement and success. And here is a cow. We share the same planet, but it’s a strange coexistence.
As for how Annie Lennox got away with wearing a matching suit with Stewart:
Dave Stewart: “Sweet Dreams” prompted a big argument with the record company. They were pissed off when Annie and I turned up in matching suits, with Annie’s hair cropped off. They wanted her to wear a dress. They were like, “We don’t understand. Annie is such a pretty girl.” Then MTV got the video and it just went mad. It didn’t look like anything else. Annie’s hair was so different, and the colors in the video looked amazing. It was shot on 16mm film, but it was very rich. It became a phenomenon.
It’s not mentioned in the book, but I’d like to think that the ending was inspired by the ending of Jacques Rivette’s film, Celine And Julie Go Boating (1974).
Celine And Julie Go Boating (1974, dir. Jacques Rivette)
After that, Lennox is shown waking up in bed with a book on her nightstand with the same title as the song. It goes to black when she turns off the light.
Celine And Julie Go Boating cuts back to the beginning of the film where Celine wakes up, and she and Julie have now switched places. It’s Celine who ends up following Julie after she drops a book in a park. Before, it was Julie who followed Celine after she dropped something in the same park.
If Going Back To Cali by LL Cool J was inspired by the likes of Godard, Chabrol, and Antonioni, then it’s not a stretch to think that Stewart saw that movie, and thought to mimic that shot which shoots us out of the film to simply repeat the same movie with the characters switched. Much like you can imagine that Lennox is going to sleep to end up back in the same dream she just had, based on what she read in the book–the cover appearing to show one Annie reaching out to touch another Annie.
Chris Ashbrook produced the video.
Enjoy! And for all of us who have misheard lyrics at one time or another: Sweet dreams are made of cheese. Who am I to disagree?
30 Days Of Surrealism:
- Street Of Dreams by Rainbow (1983, dir. Storm Thorgerson)
- Rock ‘n’ Roll Children by Dio (1985, dir. Daniel Kleinman)
- The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
- Take Me Away by Blue Öyster Cult (1983, dir. Richard Casey)
- Here She Comes by Bonnie Tyler (1984, dir. ???)
- Do It Again by Wall Of Voodoo (1987, dir. ???)
- The Look Of Love by ABC (1982, dir. Brian Grant)
- Eyes Without A Face by Billy Idol (1984, dir. David Mallet)
- Somebody New by Joywave (2015, dir. Keith Schofield)
- Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (1982, dir. Dick Maas)
- Schism by Tool (2001, dir. Adam Jones)
- Freaks by Live (1997, dir. Paul Cunningham)
- Loverboy by Billy Ocean (1984, dir. Maurice Phillips)
- Talking In Your Sleep by The Romantics (1983, dir. ???)
- Talking In Your Sleep by Bucks Fizz (1984, dir. Dieter Trattmann)
- Sour Girl by Stone Temple Pilots (2000, dir. David Slade)
- The Ink In The Well by David Sylvian (1984, dir. Anton Corbijn)
- Red Guitar by David Sylvian (1984, dir. Anton Corbijn)
- Don’t Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers (1985, dir. Jeff Stein)
- Sweating Bullets by Megadeth (1993, dir. Wayne Isham)
- Clear Nite, Moonlight or Clear Night, Moonlight by Golden Earring (1984, dir. Dick Maas)
- Clowny Clown Clown by Crispin Glover (1989, dir. Crispin Glover)
- Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden (1994, dir. Howard Greenhalgh)
- Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler (1983, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
- Harden My Heart by Quarterflash (1981, dir. ???)