In a Dream

Posted by schnolis on April 22nd, 2009 filed in Reviews

IN A DREAMIn a Dream is the documentary of the artist Isaiah Zagar and his life as an artist in Philadelphia. He creates mosaic pattens on walls, ceiling, doors, and just about every surface of houses, both inside and out. His art is seen by thousands every year. In addition to mirrors, myriad tiles, and colored cement holding everything together, he infuses his work with empty beer bottles, old bicycle tires, and other scraps people regularly discard. Interspersed within all of these are drawings, words, names of his family, and other random etchings he adds to his work.

For the first half of the presentation I felt jealous of Isaiah. There, on the screen and in my own town, was someone who lived his life with tremendous purpose. He spent 35 years creating art that chronicled his family’s life. Through this period he was supported and loved by his wife and two sons. His seeming tireless devotion made me aware of the lack of that kind of focus in my own life.

But the second half of the movie presented a darker side to those qualities. His passion for his art turned out to be less of an expression of his thoughts and dreams but more of a place to hide from his personal demons. His prodigious output felt more like a side effect of a malfunctioning brain or psyche. It was a fantastic effort to stave off thoughts of suicide and depression. Isaiah struggled with declining passion for live and for his marriage. He and his entire family endured much drama, including affairs, divorces, drug rehabilitation, childhood sexual abuse and general unhappiness. It brought home the reality for me that there is no way to live your life in a dream. There is no perfect, fulfilled life. We as humans are constantly struggling with our existence, and the only way to combat it is to stay engaged in your relationships, your work, and your mind.

What I liked: Beautiful artwork. Some great panning camera work showing Isaiah touring his artwork. Also, there were great montage moments of family history and artwork that conveyed a great deal of the human side of Isaiah’s family and work. Touching music played behind some great camera shots. I’m looking forward to taking a few moments to tour some of his work in the near future.

What I disliked: Nothing major, actually. I think there was some room for more of Isaiah’s history but overall I thought the story worked really well.

Rating: 9 of 10

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