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Lathe Of Heaven

2.2 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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(Oct 01, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

James Caan, Lukas Haas, Lisa Bonet. A man whose dreams become reality undertakes extensive measures to stay awake, until a doctor realizes he can manipulate this power for his own good. 2002/color/104 min/NR/widescreen.


For Ursula Le Guin's devoted following, the 2002 remake of the 1980 film based on her novel may not be the stuff dreams are made of. This new adaptation omits some of the original's most memorable developments (the racially equalized "grays" and the alien invasion). Lucas Haas stars as George Orr, a "little lost boy" haunted by his dreams, which, he claims, alter the present unbeknownst to anyone but him. James Caan (more menacing than was Kevin Conway in the original) costars as the self-promoting Dr. Haber, the therapist assigned to treat the suicidal young man. This "very productive relationship" most benefits Haber, who attempts to manufacture George's dreams "to fit some useful function." The requisite unforeseen consequences ensue. Lisa Bonet is ravishing, but less impressive as George's skeptical public defender who may be the girl of his dreams. The foreboding mood is enhanced by Angelo Badalamenti's score, which recalls his haunting work on Twin Peaks. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

  • Exclusive international version featuring footage not seen during the U.S. broadcast
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette (25 min.)
  • Biographies/filmographies of James Caan, Lukas Haas, Lisa Bonet, David Strathairn, and Ursula K. LeGuin

Product Details

  • Actors: James Caan, Lukas Haas, Lisa Bonet, David Strathairn, Sheila McCarthy
  • Directors: Philip Haas
  • Writers: Alan Sharp, Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Producers: Allen Sabinson, Bruce Davison, Craig Baumgarten, David Craig, Mark Winemaker
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Letterboxed, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 1, 2002
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006JDQN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,019 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Lathe Of Heaven" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Comprehensively defanged version of the Ursula LeGuin Scifi classic (her 2nd best novel after the (as yet unfilmed) Left Hand of Darkness), this DVD omits so many plot elements it is barely possible to follow it without having read the book, and if you've read the book, you won't want to.
Extra star because it *looks* good, especially the hot young leads, and James Caan and David Strathairn are always watchable. But the up to date special effects treatment of the aliens that many fans were waiting for is absent - in fact, there are no aliens! Plenty else missing, in particular a sense of pacing and excitement somehow got left on the cutting floor.
Correctly described by pipingbear as the "Latte of Heaven", sweet as far as it goes, but insubstantial, unsatisfying - and produced by a vast evil conglomerate!
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Format: DVD
The Arts and Entertainment channel decided to revisit Ursula K. Le Guin's science fiction classic, and their version premiered on television in 2002. The tendency is to want to compare this movie to the 1980 version or to the book, which ultimately casts it in an unfavorable light. Judged on its own merits, however, it is actually not too bad.
This movie still contains the basic premise of George Orr attempting to find a cure for his dreams that effective reality. The first half of the A&E version actually follows the book fairly closely. However, this movie almost completely dispenses with Dr. Haber's attempts to use George's power to bring the greatest good to the greatest number. In fact, Dr. Haber manipulates Georges power mostly for his own gain. Several aspects of the book and the original movie are completely left out, such as the alien invasion and their subsequent interaction with the characters. Instead, this movie focuses more on the relationship with George Orr and Heather Lelache. George continues to dream new realities in which he meets Heather again and again in a seemingly never-ending unfulfilled romance.
In this respect A&E's version of The Lathe of Heaven is like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. And in this respect, it is a decent, though not spectacular, movie. It disappoints, however, when compared to the original movie and the book. Though James Caan does a good Dr. Haber, Lukas Haas adds nothing to the character of George Orr, and Lisa Bonet, as Heather Lelache, seems to fade into the background in most scenes. In addition, much of the original story's observation on the use and misuse of power is lost in what is essentially a quaint love story.
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Format: DVD
In 1980 PBS broadcast an adaptation of Ursula Le Guin's novel "The Lathe of Heaven", made with the close cooperation of Le Guin herself. The movie was an instant cult classic, and its subsequent 20-year disappearance from the airwaves only heightened its legend.
In 2002 A&E broadcast a new version called "Lathe of Heaven". The director boasted that he hadn't read the book nor watched the movie. And Ms. Le Guin was not consulted at any time in the process of making the movie.
The result? A brainless, gutless, pointless waste of time. So much of the plot from the book and PBS movie were discarded that no real plot remains. The aliens? Gone. The twisting effect of manipulated dreaming? Gone. The conflict between passive and active world-views, between Tao and technology? Gone. The tragedy of good intentions gone hopelessly awry? Gone. Well-written dialog, good acting, a coherent storyline? Gone, gone, and - yes, you guessed it - gone.
The novel and original PBS film were brilliant reflections on the nature of reality and existence, with plot twists that packed an emotional as well as an intellectual wallop and with involving, three-dimensional characters that you could care about. The A&E version replaces all that with a bit of hot tongue action between Lisa Bonet and Lucas Haas.
And it's not even GOOD hot tongue action.
Look, if you're looking for hot tongue action, go buy or rent some honest-to-goodness p0rn. It'll have more integrity than this A&E abomination. And if you're looking for one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time, AND one of the best adaptations of a novel to film that was ever made, watch the PBS version of "The Lathe of Heaven". It's available on DVD once again, thank goodness. And will be watched with delight long after this filmed atrocity has been wiped from human memory.
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Format: DVD
This is the amongst the worst adaptations I've ever witnessed. Watching it was a complete waste of time. Any resemblance to either Ursula K. LeGuin's novel or the superb first movie from PBS is coincidental.

The writer ignores the philosophical and religious undertones of the novel -- captured beautifully in the earlier PBS production -- and prefers a monolithic, one-dimensional telling of a completely different story with entirely different characters, motives and consequences.

The acting, if you can call it that, is likewise monolithic and uninspired. Particularly disappointing were Cann and Haas, the main protagonists. Lisa Bonet attempts to rescue some scenes, but the wooden acting by Haas spoils her efforts. The one inspired element of the production, the scenes with David Strathairn's Mannie, is left useless by a lack of reason or context for the character's apparent knowledge. It doesn't help that in the original book and movie this role was filled by one of the space aliens, dreamed up by main character. In the A&E production Mannie is left hanging on a vine unattached to any other of the story's branches. The whole effect is one of confusion instead of focussing on the thought provoking ideas presented in both the original novel and PBS's far superior production.

My advice is to ignore this turkey. Buy the book and read it, or if you must view a video production, go with the inspired 1980
PBS production. This A&E production is shallow, uninspired and totally without merit when compared with the other sources.

Reading the other reviews I get the feeling that those praising
this turkey haven't read the book or seen the 1980 PBS version.
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