When characters in Hollywood films move between dreams and reality, we are immediately alerted. These distinctions aren’t always as evident in real life, because most of the time, a dream doesn’t appear to be a dream while you’re in it. If you want to see a film representation of this, you’ll have to look outside of the mainstream and into the art-house. Some of these films are listed below.

1. Persona (1966)

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Director- Igmar Bergman

Elisabet Vogler, a Swedish actress, goes silent on stage during a performance of Elektra. She is near-catatonic the next day. The doctors in charge of her treatment say there is no medical reason for her difficulties. Elisabet’s caretaker is a nurse named Alma, who believes Elisabet has some sort of inner strength that allows her to choose not to speak. Because Elisabet’s husband and son are not permitted to visit her, the doctor gives Elisabet and Alma with their own private beachside summer residence.

To break the silence during the break, Alma continues to chat to Elisabet, eventually revealing personal information about her life. Elisabet admires her and aspires to be like her. Alma learns more about her patient as the two women spend more time alone together. Alma, on the other hand, begins a transition that she now consciously seeks to stop as a result of what she has learnt about Elisabet.

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2. Last Year At Marienbad (1961)

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Director- Alain Resnais

“X,” a lovely and enigmatic man, approaches “A,” a seductively distant woman, during a social gathering in a gorgeous and cavernous château with high ceilings and a fine collection of artwork, intent on convincing her that they are not strangers. In truth, “X” claims that they met a year ago in Marienbad, Czech Republic; nevertheless, the bewildered woman has no remembrance of their secret amorous meeting. But as they go around the magnificently adorned halls of the huge mansion, the question remains: is “X” speaking the truth?

3. Belle de Jour (1967)

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Director- Luis Bunuel

Severine, a lovely young woman, lives with her husband, but their union has never been completed. She has a string of passionate daydreams in which she fantasises about different sado-sexual interactions. Severine joins a brothel after hearing about a friend who works as a prostitute. She just works in the afternoons and returns to her spouse every evening. She is cautious and hesitant at first, but she grows into her own and becomes a favourite of the establishment’s many clients. When a hoodlum, Marcel, falls in love with her and wants her all to himself, her life takes a change. However, in Severine’s universe, the distinction between reality and fiction is not always clear.

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4. The Hourglass Sanatorium (1973)

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Director- Wojciech Has

Joseph (Jan Nowicki), the protagonist of the film, travels through a dream-like world on a rickety train to see his dying father in a sanatorium. When he arrives at the hospital, he discovers that the entire facility is in disarray, with no one in control or caring for the patients. Time appears to act erratically, resurrecting the past in a complex artificial caprice.

5. Meshes Of The Afternoon (1943)

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Director-  Maya Deren, Alexandr Hackenschmied

A lone woman picks up a wilting flower on her walk home and then drops her key. She arrives home exhausted and falls asleep in a deep, comfortable recliner. However, an ethereal and elusive dark presence stains her afternoon nap even in her most private dreams—she tries in vain to grab it. Strange but perfect doppelgängers of her physical self start appearing in the house, catching a sight of a record player playing an endless melody, a telephone, and a sharp, serrated bread knife, as the already limited surroundings becomes a maze-like purgatory. The blade yearns for blood, while the woman yearns for escape.

6. Mulholland Drive (2001)

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Director- David Lynch

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Betty, the wide-eyed actress, arrives in bustling, sun-kissed Hollywood, untarnished by the predatory film industry’s false promises. Betty arrives into Aunt Ruth’s fancy apartment, brimming with hope and ready to prove her worth. Unbeknownst to her, fate has other things in store for her, setting the stage for life-altering experiences with the unexpected, the indecipherable, and the unknown. A strange key to a mysterious keyhole, an even odd indigo-blue cube, the young director, Adam, and one cryptic woman now lie at the heart of a complex labyrinth of half-truths, faded memories, unrequited loves, and hazardous meetings with the city’s ugly face. Rita, the amnesiac brunette and seductively beautiful automobile accident survivor. Time passes, though, and Rita’s mysterious background demands answers. After all, the truth is something that both ladies deserve.

7. Waking Life (2001)

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Director- Richard Linklater

The story of a young child who dreams of floating, but if he doesn’t hold on, he will float away into the sky. This thought comes back to him even as an adult. Following a bizarre mishap, he wanders through what appears to be a dream, passing through numerous scenes and encountering various personalities. People he encounters talk about science, philosophy, and the lives of dreaming and waking, and the protagonist progressively grows concerned that he is unable to awaken from this perplexing dream experience.