Paprika (2006) is an animated Japanese science fiction psychological thriller directed and written by the legendary Satoshi Kon. Based on Yasutaka Tsutsui’s 1993 novel of the same name, the film follows a research psychologist who uses a device that permits therapists to help patients by entering their dreams. It was Kon’s fourth and final film before his death and is widely considered a brilliant film, capitalizing on the medium of animation to include dazzling and mind-boggling scene transitions that blur the world of the waking and the world of the dreaming.
Though not a perfect film by any means, Kon’s layering of dreaming and reality captures the feeling of a dream, the sense of non-reality where everything seems familiar and strange all at once, where your decision-making gradually strays from the path of logic even though it all feels like it makes sense. Dreams in Paprika are not solely about wild imagery – though this is present of course – but in the way that reality seems to slowly begin to unravel around its characters at times in ways that are not obvious or superficial. The things they do always make sense, until at a certain point, they don’t. It’s a descent, it’s the feeling of falling asleep, where your brain slowly loses its grip on reality and logic and you plunge helplessly into a world that mirrors ours, but lacks the rules that govern it.
It, quite literally, has nothing to do with the spice of the same name. Which, decidedly, is really dank on mac n cheese.
I need one more photo for this page so here’s some nightmare fuel: