VIDEO: Tokyo Dreams (2013)

NICHOLAS BARKER | TOKYO DREAMS from Rogue Films on Vimeo. The director requests: 1. Wear earphones. 2. Turn your phone to Silent. 3. Do nothing else for 9 minutes. Tokyo Dreams is a journey behind closed eyelids. Tokyo Dreams is a short Zen-like film about sleeping commuters on the Tokyo subway. Shooting 12 hours a day for two weeks, UK director Nicholas Barker contemplates the stillness and vulnerability of his fellow passengers and wonders whether they will wake in time for their stop…


Sleeping is a very intimate act for most of us, so watching these people (some of them very serious-looking) placidly sleep or nap in front of me makes me feel relaxed, uneasy, and motherly, all at the same time. We are allowed to witness very intimate moments in unknown people’s lives. Moments in which a person is really fragile and vulnerable, present but also absent.


Even when I get to properly sleep on a medium-length or long trip, I rarely dream. In fact, the passengers captured in this video do not display signs of REM sleep. Are they daydreaming? Just relaxing? Aren’t they properly aslept but just resting?

I’ve seen people on a train, totally asleep, get up and wake up, as if someone had winded them up, at the stop preceding the one they had to get off. There is an interesting article explaining how the brain works out that. So, I wonder if that vigilant quality of the brain while commuting shuts off dreaming altogether, even hypnagogic or hypnopompic episodes. The truth is, I’ve rarely heard anyone tell me something like, “I had this amazing dream while I was commuting.” Dreaming while traveling is a subject that has not received much attention by anyone and, because of that, fascinates me.


If you are able to dream while commuting, please send me a message through the contact form telling me your experience and I will add it to your entry, credit given, of course.

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