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O Dreamland (1956)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

An old driver cleaning a Rolls-Royce car in a backyard [music: fox-trot by Ray Connif]. Groups of people walk toward the gate of an amusement park [music is replaced by sound of mechanical laughter].

The Museum of Tortures, a 'live' representation - with automatons - of the execution of the atomic spy Rosenberg in the electric chair. A mechanical policeman watching the execution laughs cruelly. A voice introduces visitors to the various tortures: first, the "death by a thousand cuts": human-size dummies, lying on the floor or hanged by the legs, are pierced with knives. Another is immersed in a cauldron of boiling oil. Adults and children appear more disillusioned than fascinated by the scene. The next representation shows Joan of Arc being burnt at the stake.

Outside, an uninterrupted stream of coaches arrives at the funfair. Groups of young women dressed up for the ocasion walk happily towards the entrance. A juke-box starts playing a record [music: Frankie Laine's sentimental I Believe].

Anonymous crowds wander around in the funfair. An old man with a dazed look holds a puppet pin-up . Face-shaped balloons hang from a stand, bearing messages like "too young to be in love", "To the sweetest girl I know" and "My resistance is low".

A fire-eater begins to performs his act. In front of a juke-box, a group of young women dance and sing along. Caged animals and other fairground attractions (rides, a shooting range, bingo, slot machines) compete for the visitors' attention.

The canteen. People take a rest, have a cup of tea or queue for a plate of beans or bangers and chips. Around them children are playing.

Outside, it is getting dark. The lights and neons are switched on, the night attractions take over.

A more detailed synopsis is available (in French) in the film magazine L'Avant-Scene du Cinema, October 1982, pp. 46-50