Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on how Satoshi Kon’s film Paprika uses emotions to tackle the enigma of unconsciousness.
Set in the near future, Paprika tells the story of a research team with the technology to view other people’s dreams. Dr. Atsuko Chima uses the device (known as the “DC Mini”) to rehabilitate psychiatric patients by entering their subconscious as her alter ego, the peppy, charismatic “Paprika.” Because it’s just a prototype, the DC Mini lacks access requirements. So when the machine is stolen, the team has due cause to panic. Whoever the culprit is can enter anyone else’s dreams, threatening both their research and reality as we know it.
A key inspiration behind Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Satoshi Kon’s film is as elusive as its titular heroine. Relying heavily on dream logic, the film is riddled aesthetically and thematically with subconscious anxieties and suppressed desire, delving into genuinely distressing imagery while remaining persistently playful.
It is, admittedly, a magic trick only someone like Satoshi Kon can pull off: that this film with giant naked people towering above the Tokyo skyline, nightmare fuel geisha dolls, and a chaotic parade comprised of inanimate objects should amount to anything “wholesome.” And yet the video essay below argues just that, teasing together Paprika’s threads to underline the heartfelt nature of its core thematic thrust. Namely, both art and dreams (is there a difference?) can inspire and influence us to get in touch with the emotions holding us back. What a devastatingly fitting thesis for what would prove to be Kon’s final feature film.
Warning – spoilers ahead.
Watch “Paprika – Human Emotion Within the Subconscious”:
Who made this?
This video essay on the themes of the animated feature Paprika is by You Have Been Watching Films. United Kingdom-based writer Oliver Bagshaw produces the channel, creating video essays on an assortment of movies, from cult to classic strains of cinema history. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.
More videos like this
- Here’s a favorite of this column, What’s So Great About That? with an essay on what Paprika has to say about why we simultaneously fear and long for our deepest aspirations.
- Want another sample of You Have Been Watching Films? Here’s a video on how Takashi Miike’s movie Audition manipulates its audience with genre conventions.
- Here is another on the themes of warmth and cynicism in the French-language animated film The Triplets of Belleville.
- And here’s why the short documentary Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe is more profound than its blunt title suggests.
- Finally, here’s why Jan Švankmajer’s short film Food is a real gut-buster … in more ways than one.