Prefabricated Surrealism in ‘Dreams That Money Can Buy’

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Watch Dreams That Money Can Buy, a Surrealist Film by Dada filmmaker Hans Richter, painter and photographer Man Ray, conceptualist Marcel Duchamp, sculptor Alexander Calder, and painter-sculptor-filmmaker Fernand Léger.


Dreams That Money Can Buy is a 1947 experimental feature color film written, produced, and directed by surrealist artist and dada film-theorist Hans Richter.

Hans Richter, painter, graphic artist, avant-gardist, “film-experimenter,” and energetic member of the Dada movement, created the story-line, seemingly mundane, where a poet Joe/Narcissus finds an apartment with a complicated lease, then must figure out how to pay the rent — and fuses the visions of some of the most compelling writers, artists, and musicians of the time to create a surreal tapestry.

STORY: Dada as the Antidote to War and Capitalism

Hans Richter, Dreams that money can buy

“The Girl With the Prefabricated Heart,” sequence by Fernand Léger.

Joe discovers he can see the contents of his mind unfolding whilst looking into his eyes in the mirror. He realises that he can apply his gift to others (“If you can look inside yourself, you can look inside anyone!”), and sets up a business in his room, selling tailor-made dreams to a variety of frustrated and neurotic clients. Each of the seven surreal dream sequences in the diegesis were created by contemporary avant-garde and/or surrealist artist, as follows:

Desire Max Ernst (Director/Writer)
The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart Fernand Léger (Director/Writer)

Song Lyrics John Latouche Sung by Libby Holman and Josh White, accompanied by Norma Cazanjian and Doris Okerson

Ruth, Roses and Revolvers Man Ray (Director/Writer)

Music By Darius Milhaud

Discs Marcel Duchamp (Writer)

Music By John Cage

Circus Alexander Calder (Writer)

Music By David Diamond

Ballet Alexander Calder (Director/Writer)

Music By Paul Bowles

Narcissus Hans Richter (Director/Writer)

Music By Louis Applebaum Dialogue by Richard Holback and Hans Richter

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Planners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt