The Dream the End

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Literature ・MLA ・3 Sources

Madonna and Bedtime Story director Mark Romanek use their imagination and love for surrealism to produce a masterpiece film. In four and a half minute song, the video depicts a superhuman vision of death and dreams. The video is a recreation of a memory created in Madonna's mind about regeneration and death. Each scene in the video is an example of a specific component of painting, and it contributes to a complete interpretation of the artist's depiction of a dream and rebirth. However, to come up with such a video, Madonna and the producers used literary works to build a strong base for the video and to ensure that the intended message comes out clearly. This paper seeks to narrate the use of surrealism in the video of the song Bedtime Story by analyzing the scenes and interpreting the meaning of the various views in the video. Additionally, this paper aims to explain other works from which Madonna has used to create this masterpiece video by outlining the original artworks.

Bedtime Story

Madonna in her song uses other literary works to create the final video and to bring out her intentions of the dream in her song. The video has scenes from the movie, The color of Pomegranates; additionally, she uses the dance moves from Dervishes commonly referred to as the Sufi whirling. The Sufi whirling is evident where men in the video are spinning resembling figurines which make their robes to expand making circles around them. Moreover, in the video, Madonna captures the works of Leonaro Carrington, Leonara Fini, Frida Kahlo, Lucien Freud, Jenni Holzer, and Remedios Varos (Rooksby 5). The artworks by these artists are used to elaborate on the theme of death, rebirth, and religion. In the works of Varos, Madonna captures three portraits including ‘Los Amantes,' ‘La Llamada,' and ‘Nacer de Nuevo’ while on the other hand, in the works of Carrington, she captures ‘The Giantess’ where a woman is towering high while birds fly from her blanket (Faller 175). Notably, in the works of Fine, Madonna uses the art ‘The End of the Earth’ where a woman takes a bath in the dark with the skeleton of assorted animals in the vicinity.
Background Meaning of the Scenes
The video contains surrealism, and various portraits with hidden meaning are incorporated in the scenes to create an understanding of the dream. At the start of the video, there is an eye with the writings ‘Lucid’ which is the trademark of René Magritte. René is known for challenging the preconceived mind of the observers about reality (Taylor 379). At this point, the technique of paralanguage on the portrait of the pipe with the writing ‘this is not a pipe.' The eye is also a creation of the paralanguage whereby it signifies ideas, concepts, and Gods’ omniscience since when it is rotated vertically it resembles a vagina or a womb which is a sign of rebirth (Taylor 383). The video begins with Madonna lying in an experimental lab inside a circular petri dish similar to the one used in the scientific laboratory. The circular shape of the petri dish symbolizes continuity or infinity of a dream where when one wakes up they only remember from the middle of the dream onwards (Rooksby 7). Immediately she starts to sing the words ‘ah’, the machine recognizes her voice, and a creamy liquid begins to pour on her blood. Further, the apparatus records that she is lucid despite the audience having the knowledge that she has been dosed. At this point, she starts to sing while in her sleep resonating the universal concept of sleep-talking. The technique used by them in this scene is a dream inside a dream, and it helps to create a build-up to the idea of the dream as intended by Madonna (Faller 176). Also in the scene, Madonna sings with the backdrop being a sunflower which is the use of the surreal technique. Madonna singing in front of the sunflower is symbolizes that she is seeking Christ or salvation just like the sunflower always finds the sun.
The next scene shows a child who has awaken and is sitting on an octagram with a sunflower on one side and a man holding apples on the other side. Symbolically, the octagram in Christianity is a show of fertility, generation, or creation while the apple denotes the first sin that was committed by the first parents Adam and Eve (Rooksby 11). In the scene that follows, Madonna is in a cube that is rotating with a black man keeping the cube in a spinning motion, the cube is called the Metatron’s cube, and it is made up of thirteen circles and line. The Metatron’s cube means life since every living thing or object has the thirteen circles including the atoms, molecules, and any other structure (Faller 178). The white piece on which Madonna portrait is visible depicts purity, and the entire scene seeks to illustrate an infinite life which is part of the dream in the video. Illustratively, Metatron in Biblical terms is the human who God turned into an angle, but at some point, she was mistaken to be God, and she did not deny hence leading to her banishment and the deprivation of the wings (Rooksby 12). Therefore, as seen in the video, the wingless angel looking up is the manifestation of the angel seeking forgiveness from God for the blasphemy.
The next scene captures a painting of a large man sitting in a room facing backward a scene that is inspired by the ‘Naked Man, Back View” by Freud, translated to mean the secrets Madonna is keeping. It is followed by a painting from “The End of The Earth” that is recreated almost piece after piece. The scene then jumps into the Sufi whirling dance depicted by Dervishes men dancing circularly. The presence of the Dervishes men is an indication of humility with is the unique attribute of these men (Faller 179). Further, the scene brings out the impression of an elderly man watching Madonna as if she is in a deep well as inspired by Remedios Varo painting ‘Nacer de Nuevo.' The next scene captures some lyric that reads “WORDS ARE USELESS ESPECIALLY SENTENCES” written underneath the water and some seaweed growing. The interpretation of the scene is the possibility of growth in life despite the challenges an individual is facing. A fish swims past the lyrics which is a show of the unconsciousness exhibited in a dream.
The following scene is a male foot smashing grapefruit with Arabic writings translated as ‘and all that you’ve ever learned, try to forget, I’ll never explain again.' The grapes symbolize piety and faith while the smashing releases wine which is a symbol of the blood of Christ. In the subsequent views, doves are flying away from Madonna implying that someone she loves passed on and the skeleton she rests upon symbolized death, transformation and changes (Faller 182). In the end, Madonna is inside a chamber, and the naked man is shown to be blind, the girl is covered in a blanket, and her dream starts to fall through the sky, a depiction of achievement and satisfaction. Madonna then wakes up from her dream, and the machine automatically shuts down depicting the end of the session which winds up with a ‘thank you ‘ note.

Works Cited

Faller, Greg S. "From Sitney to TV: Classical experimental style in contemporary music videos." Popular Music & Society 20.1 (1996): 175-189.
Rooksby, Rikky. The Complete Guide to the Music of Madonna. Omnibus Press. (2004)
Taylor, Pamela G. "Madonna and hypertext: Liberatory learning in art education." Studies in art education 41.4 (2000): 376-389.

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