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5 Movies and Books That Were Inspired by Dreams

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5 Movies and Books That Were Inspired by Dreams

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Summary: Oftentimes, we fail to remember our dreams. Luckily for us some highly talented artists did. Here are handpicked movies and books inspired by dreams.

A certain first lady once said, ‘the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’

And we agree. So gather dreamers and futurists from far and wide, because you’ve come to the right place.

Some of the best movies, books, scientific breakthroughs, innovations, and creative inspiration have been birthed from inside the dreams of dreamers like us. It’s like Walt Disney always said–if you can dream it, you can do it (and make millions while you’re at it).

So if you’re looking for some literary inspiration, are bored and curious, or are suffering from Netflix-induced indecision, here are our top 5 books and movies based on dreams.

inception movie

5. Inception

The storyline of Christopher Nolan’s psychological thriller Inception was inspired by a lucid dream.

(That’s right. A movie based on dreams was inspired by a dream.)

If you’ve not seen it yet, do it even if it’s just to lovingly gaze upon Leonardo DiCaprio’s stunningly chiseled jaw-line and baby blues. In a nutshell, DiCaprio plays a unique corporate spy-turned-con-artist who can infiltrate anyone’s dreams to extract and steal the most valuable ideas and secrets.

He does so via ‘inception’, a dream-sharing technology. But his dirty work has made him a wanted man in more ways than one *wink, wink*. Will this American dreamboat get away with it? You’d better find out on Saturday night with a big ol’ bag of popcorn…

4. Sophie’s Choice

What famous work of literature stemmed from a dream the author had? One of them was the world-renowned Sophie’s Choice.

And keeping your eyes dry whilst reading it? In your dreams!

The plot for the infamous 1979 novel (and soon after motion picture movie starring Meryl Streep) Sophie’s Choice came about from a time of creative hardship. Styron reported his struggles to come up with a new storyline for his next book, when, as if by magic, he dreamed up the whole thing.

“There was a merging from the dream to a conscious vision and memory of this girl named Sophie, and it was powerful because I lay there in bed with the abrupt knowledge that I was going to deal with this work of fiction […] I was seized by this absolute sense of necessity- I had to write the book.”

From the horrors of the holocaust to love triangles galore, the choice Sophie had to make will leave you heartbroken. No spoiler alert here–we’ll let you reveal the secrets within this glorious piece of literature in your own time. Some would say it’s a dream to read. 


3. Frankenstein

One of the classics. But did you know this masterpiece was inspired by a nightmare?

On a dark, Swiss stormy night in the summer of 1816, Mary Shelley was snuggled up with her husband when she dreamed of a plot for a “tale that haunted my midnight pillow”. After dreaming up the image of Frankenstein and his mad scientist by his side, Mary awoke suddenly with a burning urge to write the introduction to her first dream fiction masterpiece.

Although the novel is over two centuries old now, the harrowing tale of Frankenstein’s monstrous creation continues to linger in our classrooms and old movie theatres. If you don’t fancy wading your way through 280 pages, you can also opt for a viewing of the science fiction horror film, one of the best movies based on dreams (ever).

If nothing else, it’ll give you inspiration for a show-stopping Halloween costume.

2. Terminator

We’ve got three words from the dreamy Arnold Schwarzenegger for you.

“I’ll be back.”

That’s right, James Cameron’s The Terminator was another one of the best movies based on dreams. In fact, it was actually birthed from the stuff of nightmares (but since it ended up grossing $78.3 million, was it really a nightmare?)

If you’ve not seen it yet, here’s the plot in a nutshell. Disguised as a (very attractive, very muscular) human, cyborg assassin Terminator time-travels from the distant future back to 1984 to kill unassuming Sarah Connors. All Sarah Connors on Earth. Why? Well, we’ll let you watch it yourself this weekend to find out.

The crazy thrilling plot was born on a hot night in Rome when James was suffering from a fever. In a half-sleeping-half awake state, his burning temperature and tiredness brought to mind a bizarre image of a metallic man emerging from the flames of an explosion, dragging himself across the floor with kitchen knives…right towards poor Mr. Cameron.

twilight movie

1. Twilight

Hide your teenage daughters. Last but certainly not least we have the infamous ‘Twilight’ book and film saga.

Stephanie Meyers’ supernatural romance novel took the world by storm in the summer of 2007, going on to become one of the most-watched and loved movies based on dreams in history, grossing $3.3 billion. If you’ve not read/seen/drooled over the story yet, where on Earth have you been?

When young and unassuming Bella Swan moves to a small town in the Pacific Northwest, she falls in love. It’s all fine until she discovers that cool-as-a-cucumber Edward Cullen is a 108-year-old vampire. In this hot, heavily problematic love story, readers and viewers alike can’t help but not want this toothy tale to end…

Stephanie Meyer was no author, but when she had a dream about two beautiful people in a meadow, a human girl and a twinkly vampire boy, what choice did she have but to write up the rest of the story? It’s a good job she followed her dreams because they certainly knew the way to her future success. 

What About Your Dreams?

As you can see, your dreams can amount to much more than a weird anecdote in a casual conversation with a friend. 

You never know, maybe one of your upcoming dreams could have the potential to be transformed into something as huge as a published dream novel or an award-winning movie. 

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Written by

Amy White

Amy White is the former senior editor of Mindvalley with a track record of over 100 personal growth articles and published books collectively. When she's not writing, she's probably in a downward-facing dog chanting Om Shanti.
Picture of Amy White

Amy White

Amy White is the former senior editor of Mindvalley with a track record of over 100 personal growth articles and published books collectively. When she's not writing, she's probably in a downward-facing dog chanting Om Shanti.

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