Paprika – Review (Spoiler Free)

Paprika is a beautifully animated film that, even when it presents us with its many confusing twists and turns, consistently keeps us visually engaged and immersed within the film. The film’s premise is that dream technology has become a reality, and a psychologist uses prototype machines named DC Minis to assist in her therapy sessions; by recording and even entering her patient’s dreams. However these prototypes are stolen, and the criminals are able to enter into the minds of previous users, viewing their subconscious and generally wreaking dream based havoc. If this sounds familiar then yes, there are strong similarities to Inception, but the difference here is that where Nolan’s presentation of dreams was structured and in many ways restrained, Paprika’s characters are out of control; they have no totem to track when they are dreaming, and the dream world is far more recognisably surreal and bizarre. Paprika is also a love letter to film; frequently commenting on the comparable relationship that we have with dreaming and with watching films – which adds an additional and interesting layer to Paprika.

The film’s soundtrack is particularly good, and when coupled with the previously mentioned excellent animation, it makes for a real treat. Both elements recreate the conflict between the familiarity and also lack of cohesion and realism present in dreams, and do so very well – becoming really the main draw to the film. Not that the premise is at all uninteresting, but when watching it I found myself far more interested in the different ways that the film animated ideas, as opposed to the plot driven reasons for arriving at these moments. There are multiple different ways of viewing, focusing upon and interpreting Paprika, but the one which most immediately stands out is the sensory. Another reason why I highlight this area in particular is because of the multitude of possible interpretations and discussions that Paprika can open up. This aspect of the film is best left as undiscussed as possible for someone’s first viewing.

Comparison’s to Inception, whilst not suggesting that Inception ripped Paprika off, do allow for some interesting discussion on how different films depict dream-worlds, and may hopefully get more people to see this film. Paprika’s certainly not for everyone; it’s strange, at times appears inaccessible, and benefits from re-watches, but if you are prepared for that then you should hopefully really enjoy it. If you’re opposed to confusing films which demand a certain amount of focus, then I think that it is a very legitimate way of watching Paprika to simply absorb, and be entertained by the spectacle on screen. This film celebrates the escapism that film as a medium can give us, and it revels in looking, and sounding beautiful whilst it does so.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn7U1KIGeuQ

Note: I recommend watching Paprika with subtitles rather than its English dub, there’s not a huge leap in quality, but the subtitles are consistently better.

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10 comments

  1. Are you into anime now, then?

    1. Well, into suggests a working knowledge – I’ve only ever seen a few so yeah I enjoy them, just as I do live action films but sadly I’m pretty uniformed when it comes to anime. Have you seen Paprika?

      1. No. Is it the one that Magda really likes? Do you have it? Judging by this, it definitely sounds like something that’d be right up my alley. Anyway, if you’re going to watch any anime at all, you need to see Akira because it’s the seminal anime film. It’s also worth checking out Metropolis, by the same director, which is basically the same movie with a Jazz Age twist. Ghost in the Shell is also incredible, & Grave of the Fireflies if you want your heart broken. I actually haven’t seen loads & loads of anime – that’s Broster – but the one I mentioned are all absolutely outstanding films that I can hardly recommend highly enough.

    2. I don’t remember about Magda, it’s possible. Unfortunately I don’t, I saw a friend’s copy.
      Thanks for the recommendations, Akira has been on my to watchlist for a while now but I hadn’t heard of the others. Is there a connection between this Metropolis and the German one?

      1. It’s sort of aesthetically & thematically inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (which I still haven’t seen, ridiculously), but there’s no real connection, sort of like with The Inglorious Bastards & Inglourious Basterds.

    3. OK, well when you watch Metropolis view the most up to date restored version – it is absolutely the best way to watch the film.

  2. Natalie P · · Reply

    Interesting review. There’s certainly many different levels to this film, from the actual images on the screen to the other movie connections such as Bond.

    1. Thanks! Yeah it’s an extremely dense film, and I reckon that I would benefit from seeing it several more times to notice more of its connections and intertwining levels and themes.
      Have you watched much anime? I’m very much a newcomer.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Natalie P · · Reply

        I have seen all of the Studio Ghibli films bar one, and various anime TV shows such as Cardcaptor Sakura and Tsubasa Chronicles. For appreciating the art, I would definitely recommend Arrietty or Kiki’s Delivery Service from Studio Ghibli 🙂

        1. I have been meaning to see Arrietty for a while now, so I will definitely be looking out for that one. Seeing that many is pretty impressive! I have a lot to catch up on!

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