Instant Dreams (2017)

Instant Dreams (2017)
  • 570
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release year: 2017 ()
  • Running time: 91 min
  • Original Title: Instant Dreams
  • Voted: 570

Instant Dreams brings us into the lives of Polaroid enthusiasts to create a portrait of Dr. Edwin Land, a pioneer in American technology. When Polaroid announced the end of instant film in 2008, a small group of enthusiasts bought the last operational factory in the Netherlands. Although they have the factory, a house fire destroyed all of Dr. Land's private notes, including the chemical formula behind instant film. As a result, engineer Stephen Herchen is brought in to recreate the magic behind Polaroid. Despite all of their progress, their version of the instant film is still too slow to share with the world. Meanwhile, artist Stephanie Schneider stores her last remaining Polaroid stock in a refrigerator, using them for her work in the California desert. Her primary medium is instant film, and most of her stock expired years ago. In New York, Christopher Bonanos is also running out of the Polaroid stock he needs to document the growth of his son. As the author of 'Instant: The Story...

  • Made me revalue my analog work. by 8

    Really liked this movie a lot. As a photography student myself it was really inspiring to see such a philosophical (dare I say spiritual) take on photography. Made me think and revalue the essence of my (analog) work. Capturing the moment and thinking about time a lot. This movie is quite a trip with strong cinematography and visuals, which I found refreshing. I'ts not a typical documentary by a long shot and I mean that in the best way.

  • Not just a documentary by 10

    This is how you made a documentary. At times I felt like I was watching a Kubrick's movie. This movie was not just beautiful, but also very meaningful. It wasn't just about photography, but for humanity in general. And it was not just a documentary, but a very distinguished piece of art. I felt so happy and I smiled a lot during its screening at Sofia Film Fest. I was impressed by the way life, time and people were presented in this movie.

  • Pure genius. A psychedelic cinema masterwork. by 10

    Pure genius. A psychedelic cinema masterwork. On the surface there is polaroid, future and past revelations meshed into an arty documentary which at times feels like an 70's sci-fi movie. The director certainly is not shy in showing his visual influences; Koyaaniquatsi, A Space Odyssey and other 70's cinema nuggets are on display loud and proud. But if you look closer there is a deeper message about the way we interact with each other through images. Who would have thought a simple polaroid picture would be at the technological and philosophical center of our current ever-connected way of living. The movie is presented as a trip but that doesn't mean it's all spectacle. There's a kooky artist in the desert who is like the Oracle in the Matrix, a scientist who is struggling with the ingredients of polaroid-material, and a writer about polaroids who tries to find back his mojo. Especially his quirky kid is the cutest thing ever. I would say the inventor of Polaroid has the biggest story-arc, even though he has limited screen time. The stories presented are engaging but weird in a cool way. There are even some touching and truly funny moments. I won't spoil them.It's light-years ahead of that Year Zero documentary of a couple of years ago; a straight up no frills documentary about the Impossible team starting up the old Polaroid factory. The Impossible team is also featured here but in a different capacity and at a different time. I would say this movie is just a different kind of animal. Closer to something Werner Herzog might have dreamt up in his during his early career. Klaus Kinski would have been right at home here. (Another German cult actor has a surprising cameo) The movie does have some flaws but nothing major. At certain points the slow pace dragged a bit and there was a certain brief part of the movie that didn't interest me so much. Nothing distracting. There is a lot to like and it instantly (pun intended) has become one my fav documentaries. An acquired taste maybe, but I welcomed it wholeheartedly. Saying this is a documentary just about polaroid would be doing it a big disservice. I found it ironic how a movie reflecting on the analog experience captured that genuine retro feel more then let's say the latest Blade Runner installment. (Which I also loved btw)

  • A visually striking retro ride. by 9

    I managed to catch a screening at the documentary festival in Amsterdam. I was intrigued by the trailer, which I found heavy-handed but wildly intriguing. I was interested in learning more about Polaroid. I did, but got more then expected. Tbh I was blown away by it. What was brought to the screen was beyond anything I was expecting. Space Odyssey in a Herzog - Malick kind of way, if that makes any sense. A visually striking retro ride for sure. There is no plot outline written yet. It's hard to describe, without spoiling anything I would say the movie leans towards being a visual poem. The characters have surreal connections to Polaroid film. The story is layered with fascinating quotes, a reoccurring theme of Christmas, a search for a chemical formula, an artist in a pink bathrobe and her funny chickens. I found it hard to wrap my head around all the details. There's one part of the movie involving the inventor of Polaroid, which totally blew my mind. I enjoyed it immensely and made me want to dig up that old Polaroid camera.

  • Things are only truly beautiful when imperfect by 8

    After reading a lot about this documentary, I finally got to see it. Here's my take on it.

    How you are going to feel about this film is going to depend on your own expectations. I got a lot out of it. I like artful movies that make you think and movies with meaningful cinematography in general.

    The film is basically a poetic reflection on analog images, the human condition and how it relates to the modern world. Told via an array of characters related to preserving the Polaroid image, the story has multiple angles represented by those characters. There's the scientific point of view, the art centric view and the way we view it through history. What I found interesting is that each character comes with it's own idiosyncrasies. The scientist relies on God and poetry to help him make sense of his creation, the artist deals with her own imperfections by finding meaning in the imperfect esthetic of the Polaroid image and the history obsessed writer finds unexpected connections in the present. It's all linked through the reoccurring theme of Wabi-Sabi - a Japanese saying that states that things are only truly beautiful when imperfect. To further this point there is an actual girl from Japan in the film.

    I would say what the film ultimately tries to convey is the thoughts behind the invention of the Polaroid image by examining the intentions and vision of its inventor Dr. Land and side-stepping the pop culture phenomenon what we think a Polaroid-image is. He wanted to connect humankind. The film shows us how his vision still endures and how the Polaroid image itself wasn't the point. It was a means to a greater goal. This is perfectly embodied by the Japanese girl who finds new meaning in the digital snapshots she takes, while printing (remixing) them analog. 'There are no limits on our imagination and what we can dream up in the future. It makes us human." the scientist says.

    The film is about Polaroid in its most truthful essence, contextualizes it for the present day and into the future. The film is told both through narrative story and via its cinematography. There are no interviews and the narration is minimal. Makes sense to me as the documentary is about images. So is it a good movie? Yes, greatly so! While certainly it may not be for everybody, as it does require some patience and willingness from its audience. I found it very stimulating. The thought-process and planning behind it has to have been insane. That said the story itself is pretty straightforward, easy to follow and there is humor here and there to lighten the mood. Just don't expect it to be a reportage affair about all things 'fun' and 'retro cool' as Polaroid is sometimes viewed. Is it a perfect documentary? Maybe not, but then again only things that are imperfect are truly beautiful.

1Edwin H. Landarchive_footage
2Gregor Meermancinematographer
3Marc Liziercomposer
4Willem Baptistdirector
5Albert Markuseditor
6Pieter van Huysteeproducer
7Stefanie Schneiderself
8Stephen Herchenself
9Chris Bonanosself