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The Lathe of Heaven

4.4 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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(Aug 29, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For George Orr, sleep is not a respite. For Dr. William Haber, dreams are tools. For sci-fi fans, the wait is over. Praised as "rare and powerful" by The New York Times, Ursula K. Le Guin’s THE LATHE OF HEAVEN is one of the most celebrated science fict


"Antwerp!" For science fiction fans, the long-awaited VHS and DVD release of The Lathe of Heaven is a dream come true. This haunting adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's genre-classic novel was broadcast but once on PBS in 1980 before rights and other legal snafus relegated it to the archives. Reportedly PBS's most requested program, the made-for-TV film was at last rebroadcast in 2000. Set in Portland, Oregon, in the near future, The Lathe of Heaven stars Bruce Davison as George Orr, who, to put it mildly, has a dream problem. Not only do his dreams come true, but they "change reality back to the Stone Age."

Kevin Conway costars as Dr. Haber, a dream specialist who instantly recognizes George's gift and tries to harness it to make the whole world right. But, as George notes, "Unlimited power means unlimited danger." The increasingly megalomaniacal Haber uses George to try to cure the world's ills, from overpopulation to war, resulting in, for starters, a devastating plague and even alien invasion.

Many in this production went on to projects familiar to audiences: Cowriter Diane English went on to create TV's Murphy Brown; Scott Rudin, credited with "Principle Casting," is now one of Hollywood's most formidable producers; Margaret Avery, who costars as a skeptical lawyer who comes to believe George's incredible tale, was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in The Color Purple. For those who have only been able to see this now-legendary production on poor-quality bootleg tapes, this release will be sheer heaven. The DVD contains an interview with Le Guin conducted by Bill Moyers. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

  • Bill Moyers interview with Ursula K. Le Guin

Product Details

  • Actors: Bruce Davison, Peyton E. Park, Niki Flacks, Kevin Conway, Vandi Clark
  • Directors: David R. Loxton, Fred Barzyk
  • Writers: Diane English, Roger Swaybill, Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Producers: David R. Loxton, Fred Barzyk, Carol Brandenburg
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: New Video Group
  • DVD Release Date: August 29, 2000
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004U8P6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,649 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Lathe of Heaven" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This intriguing film is a cinematic adaptation of a popular science fiction book written by Ursula K. Le Guin. A made for TV PBS special, it first aired back in 1979 and has since developed a cult following. Considering that it was made on a shoestring budget of $250,000, I must say that I was impressed with what was done. Those involved in the production certainly made a little go a long way.
The film, which definitely has a futuristic, Orwellian feel to it, revolves around a troubled young man, George Orr, played by a young Bruce Davison, who is haunted by dreams that become reality. He goes to a dream therapist in hopes of finding surcease. The therapist, a Dr. Haber, recognizes the potential power inherent in this ability and plays God, giving the hapless Orr a post hypnotic suggestion to help him dream of something which will help the human condition. All thought by Dr. Haber of the good of the patient is tossed aside in the quest for the common good.
Alas, all does not go to plan. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, as you just might get it. Here, it becomes somewhat of the proverbial monkey's paw. Moreover, what starts out as a desire to help humanity is quickly jettisoned, as issues of power and control rise to the forefront, and a megalomaniacal Dr. Haber loses all sense of perspective, with the easygoing Orr being manipulated by the controlling Dr. Haber. What happens to both patient and doctor is certainly a catalyst for thought provoking discussions, as is the end result, given the complexity of the underlying issues.
What makes this DVD particularly interesting is the inclusion of a conversation between Bill Moyers and author Ursula K. Le Guin, in which the novel and the film are discussed. This feature alone should make anyone who has read the book or seen the film include this DVD in their collection.
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By A Customer on June 30, 2000
Format: DVD
The Lathe of Heaven, a wonderful novel by Ursula K. LeGuin, translates marvelously well to film. It aired only once on PBS and was finally reaired and put up for sale on video and DVD. The basic plot - an everyman, George Orr, has the power to make his dreams come true, and the results have endless possibilities. The intense pyschological drama of this movie, coupled with its futuristic look, and the twist ending, make it an absolute classic in science fiction. The interview with the author at the end of the film brings many different interpretations and analystic choices, and answers a few questions viewers might have about the film. If you saw the original airing of the movie, you'll be thrilled with the re-release. It's been 20 years in the waiting.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This was the first movie commissioned by PBS, one of the many interesting facts that the DVD interview reveals. In fact the interview on the DVD is almost as good as the movie itself - did you know Ursula wanted to do the Left Hand of Darkness instead but that they talked her out of it?
The movie is excellent. Although you can tell at the beginning of the DVD that the master wasn't of the best quality, you quickly get sucked into the storyline, accepting some of the shoddy special effects because the plot and acting are so stellar. I was lucky enough to do a 3 hour phone interview with Kevin Conway, and we talked a lot about how much this movie meant to him and what he was thinking about while filming. The movie has had a big impact on both the actors and viewers - most sci fi fans I know remember vividly when this came out, and have been waiting anxiously for its return. I already have a line of friends who want to come watch this with me!
The basic story is that George Orr has dreams which change reality, and simply wants them to stop. His doctor, Dr. Haber, instead decides to use them to change the world and rid it of evil. Ursula explains in the interview that this pits the tao of 'go with the flow' in George vs the progress and change mentality of Dr. Haber.
It's definitely a movie that you can watch many times and really think about, and also a movie that is fun just as an interesting story. Perhaps my favorite part is when George wonders if *everyone* has this ability, to change reality with dreams, and that maybe the 'rug is being pulled out from under us' over and over again without anyone noticing.
See this with friends or family, and be prepared for lively discussions afterwards!
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Format: DVD
I had fond memories of the film having seen it when it was was first broadcast by PBS in 1980. It was a modestly produced ($250,000), ambitious (taking on a difficult to film science fiction novel), first ever P.B.S. produced movie. It was supposed to be one of several PBS produced films, but legal problems tied to music rights de-railed the project and kept the film un-available for 20 years. The way many people have seen it is on bootlegged black market videos.
The movie very good, but it's poor special effects and flaws may make first-time viewers wonder what the big deal is all about. The movie is a mostly successful attempt at making a worthy film out of great novel by Ursulla K. Le Guin.
I enjoyed the film a great deal, but there is some truly horrendously written dialogue, and some very unfortunate directorial choices. The acting by Bruce Davison and Kevin Conway remains quite good. Conway goes a bit over-the top and borders on campy melodramatics a few times, but not enough to de-rail the film. Indeed the budget restraints of the film requires the type of energetic Pavlovian performance he gives. Margaret Avery however never over-comes the fact the script has given her little to do and the directors aren't sure how to best utilize her. In one scene her character is passionate but in the next she is almost apathetic. The original story and its ideas are strong enough to withstand such flaws however.
The film is Directed by Fred Barzyk and David R. Loxton and written by Roger E. Swaybill and Diane (creator of t.v.'s Murphy Brown !) English.
You can see how this film might have incluenced films like Brazil, Bladerunner and The Matrix.
The film's special effects are cheap and a few steps below the level of an old Star Trek episode.
Read more ›
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