The Dream of Love – Film Synopsis
In The Beginning
The film begins with an incredibly creative light show to the tune of “The Dream Of Love” title song, when out of an auburn mist emerges a slender black singer, a graceful, mystical figure of a man named Misto, who beckons the audience to follow him into a fantastic journey, which the film does become.
The scene then opens on to a warm summer night in a gentle small town in southern Illinois (Fairgrove), just outside of Springfield. The band softly plays impromptu on the steps of the veranda.
The first half of the film follows the background and evolution of The Visionaries, primarily the male lead singer Clay and his partner Mary Jean, as well as Clay’s family. We learn that they have strongly rooted American values and humanitarian instincts, mixed with a distinguished history of compassionate cultural pluralism. The patriarchal grandfather (Frederick Benjamin Ryley, now in his nineties), a proud gentleman of noble Scottish/Irish and kindly German descent, had earned a Purple Heart at the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, and then became a world renowned professor and author at the University of Chicago.
It was he who founded the Foreign Exchange Society, an organization that encouraged and sometimes arranged funding for international communications, exchanges, and collaborations on a variety of projects. He helped to write the 1947 charter for the United Nations under Truman. Indeed, his father (Clay’s great-grandfather) had a similar history. He had previously fought in the trenches of the Western Front, and then worked for the State Department, helping to write the original 1918 charter for the League of Nations during the Woodrow Wilson administration.
Clay’s father (Jim Ryley) had come back to Fairgrove an itinerant preacher of the gospel, after graduating from Yale and a short stint as a Marine in Vietnam. He 2 had been voted the undergraduate Poet Laureate at Yale, and had shunned the idea of a career in politics, despite the gentle urgings of his Dad. A handsome, humorous, and instantly likeable sort, he is now selling cars for a local Toyota dealer in order to finance his six kids through schools.
The scene at Grandfather’s wake becomes extraordinary, as it is not only heavily attended by friends and colleagues from the Chicago universities, but by distinguished admirers of all races and persuasions from all over the world. One admirer is none other than the President of the United States (President Byron Pavao), as he happens to have been the candidate (then Sen. D-Illinois) opposing Grandfather’s eldest son (Senator Frederick Benjamin Ryley III (R-Illinois) in the last national election for the office of the Presidency of the United States. Senator Ryley is a man caught in the cultural Armageddon of his time, reeling from the political pressure he is under from his party to uphold traditional American values and interests. But the Democrats see other sacred American values as being neglected or even steamrolled in the process.
Meanwhile, his conservatism has also caused a temporary estrangement from his beloved family, who are traditional Rooseveltians.
Benjamin Ryley and the President have continued to be at odds in the years since the election. But recently, at the urging of his dying father, he has “reached out’’ to his rival, as well as to his very own family, in an effort to heal old wounds.
As a rigid conservative, Frederick and his younger brother Jim are opposites in most ways, and they had been feuding mightily. But the dying wishes of their father had begun to crack the wall that has been growing between them, as they both respect his last request – to reach out to each other, and melt all jealousy and hubris; to resolve the philosophical divide that has estranged the Senator from his family; and to reach out to President Pavao, and release the combined diplomatic, compassionate, and creative energies that have always defined the Ryley name.
The female lead singer, Mary Jean, is always by Clay’s side, and this quiet beauty 3 is literally the “girl next door,” but highly intelligent and well mannered. Her mother (Anne Kensington) is a “child of the 60’s” who is still beautiful, and she sings a truly emotional guitar ballad at Grandfather’s wake.
Of Love and War
Clay sees fit to marry Mary Jean, and a raucous wedding reception scene ensues, with the band playing “Obladi” at the crowd’s request. They decide not to break the band up as a result of a recent squabble, but to stick together through thick and thin.
The Visionaries win a local Battle of the Bands reality show contest in their hometown area at Springfield, Illinois and then drive to Chicago in order to enter the semi-finals, and a chance to go to NYC where the winner receives a record contract! In Chicago they meet a very cool black singer named Misto, who mesmerizes an audience at a nightclub with his beautiful, other worldly singing. He introduces them to a very cool Iranian graduate student with a beautiful smile, Ariel, visiting from New York University. He loves them, and wants to become their manager.
They proceed to go up against a very hot hip-hop band in Chicago. They prepare themselves for probable defeat, but they win the hearts of enough of the judges to win a trip to the finals in NYC, and a potential record contract! They call home with all the good news.
When they arrive in New York, things start to go wrong. This time they lose the finals to a very dark heavy metal band named Armageddon. Ariel is having trouble getting them booked, and then, to make matters worse, he is arrested by Homeland Security due to a mistaken identity (he promises to catch up with them later). They become victims to credit card fraud. They begin to lose faith.
The group is resigned to go home to Springfield in defeat because of the tremendous expense of living in New York without work. They go out into the streets of New York in a depression, heartbroken over their loss. The music is 4 haunting as they meander aimlessly. When they all return to their hostel, they sit and stare, lost in a funk. Finally, they start to make plans to leave the city. They call home and after giving Dad (Jim Ryley) the bad news, they begin to drink a little wine, and fall into a depression.
Meanwhile, Jim gives the news to Clay’s mom (Lydia Ryley), who, with a tear in her eye, proceeds to fall asleep for a nap. She dreams of the band, The Visionaries, her beloved children, whose dreams of destiny have now been severely shaken. She sees them darkly, in a dimly lit room, talking softly, trying to cheer each other up, but failing miserably. The funk is deep, and they can’t shake it. A deafening silence seems to never end, when, suddenly, the phone rings.
It is the management representing a major concert promoter. It seems that Misto had convinced him to take in the Battle Of The Bands performance, and he now wants The Visionaries to perform in a worldwide concert tour called “Stop The Madness”, beginning next month at Madison Square Garden!
Misto joins the group.
The band debuts in New York with great critical acclaim. They are a hit at the first concert, and they continue on with the troupe of mostly celebrity music stars, as they tour the cities of the world, singing out, and speaking out in the press. They are joined by more stars, and even by some political and religious leaders, along the way. The message is always the same: a simple plea for brotherhood and love, education and inspiration, without taking sides, or selling ideology.
They speak out against the madness of a world spiraling out of control. 5 Rio is a wonderful celebration of life, but in Paris, the concert goes on amidst a torrent of local unrest. There had even been some riots with firebombs in several cities in the south recently. And then the unthinkable happens. Just as the concert crowd is dispersing back into the city from the nearby stadium, a small nuclear device (dirty bomb) is detonated at the Champs-Élysées, and a panic ensues throughout the city. The concert security personnel are alerted prior to the performers leaving the stadium, and they are able to escort the entire troupe to the airport unharmed. Although the bomb was crudely made, and quite small, the range of the bomb was enough to affect almost 10 city blocks, causing many deaths and casualties.
The concert promoter (Stephen Solomon), a wily veteran of the music scene, and a passionate peace activist with a heart of gold, is a dynamic blur of motion as he races against time to help maneuver his people into the safety of the air, as quickly as humanly possible. There is a wonderful bonding experience on the plane between Solomon and some of the performers, including of course, The Visionaries. There is an emotional moment when Solomon addresses them all through the onboard audio system and, with great sincerity and understanding, gives them all an opportunity to forego the remainder of the tour.
They go on. The tour gathers more momentum with every stop, as well as more critics, both foreign and domestic. Some critics accuse the show’s promoters of inciting the general public, of enflaming popular sentiment against various governments and institutions, even though the message emanating from the concerts is strictly non-political and non-religious. It is only spiritual. It is only a plea for sanity, humanitarianism, and a higher level of consciousness.
And it begins to resonate deeply with ordinary people all over the world.
Jim Ryley has been communicating with his brother, trying to influence him to use his powerful Senate Committee position to promote certain actions to defuse the world situation. Frederick slowly comes around, even promoting Jim’s private writings to the President himself. Jim becomes an unofficial confidante, and he 6 and the Senator gradually regain the love and camaraderie that they had enjoyed as youths, roaming the Illinois countryside.
World Turmoil Escalates
In Afghanistan the concert goes surprisingly well, as security is well equipped and well prepared. The new vitality of the Afghan people is palpable, and many friends are made there, and the Afghan music and culture are contagious! They ride their horses into a large pit, chasing a large leather ball for sport, and there is much laughter and good feeling amongst the Afghans and Westerners. Meanwhile, the political news continues to deteriorate, especially in the Middle East. Russia now joins the Muslim cry for the destruction of Israel. The world economy is sliding precipitously.
Jim Ryley receives a call from President Pavao. He becomes one of his speechwriters. Throughout the tour, Clay has been communicating with his Dad, through emails and phone calls, and he starts reciting some of his Dad’s poetry as part of the performance.
The poems capture the crowd’s imaginations, because they seem to speak to what is on everyone’s mind during these apocalyptic times.
The intensity of world events escalates with each successive location. The concert in Tibet is stopped in the midst of the first song, because the crowd is chanting for “Dalai Lama.” The performers are unceremoniously escorted back to the airport by Chinese security.
In Africa, there is a fantastic musical synergy, on stage and off, between the Western, Eastern, and African music styles. There is a magic in the air, and an atmosphere of great spiritual and cultural harmony. But the 3-day festival is cut short when Steven Solomon is advised that the neighboring Muslim government is now making believable threats, and that security is just not stable enough there.
As events become politically charged, media reports of war, and threats of war, culminate in an ultimatum to Israel declared by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (in partnership with the now radical Non-Aligned Movement), just prior to the concert in Tel Aviv.
The Concert In Israel
The concert in Israel begins with tremendous vigor as multi-ethnic performers dance and sing to uplifting modern cross-rhythms; short but poignant speeches are given by famous humanitarian world leaders from all over the world; a rock group composed of two Palestinians and two Israelis brings cheers.
As the final and climactic concert continues to unfold, we see Jim Ryley take the stage at his son’s request. The audience gives him a warm reception. He then recites the lyrics to what will be the last song (“Love Come To You”), as the band plays. Then Misto, the mysterious black figure who has been shadowing The Visionaries throughout the film, appears on stage and sings the words. The stadium is spellbound. The scene morphs into a levitating music video in the sky.
Simultaneously with all this, we begin to hear the audio broadcast of a conference call conversation between President Pavao and the leaders of Iran and Russia. Within this “music video”, nothing less than humanity itself teeters at the edge of destruction. Images that have only been hinted at occasionally up to this point in the film are now revealed fully in a stark collision between the forces of light and darkness. Breathtaking visions of angelic children laughing and dancing collide with images of hateful rage and cloistered decadence.
Ultimately, in concert with the live performance, the action of the music video reaches a crescendo. A nuclear missile appears to reign down as part of a video montage that encompasses both images of horror and beauty. The soothing symphonic music is counterpoint.
The song/music video nears the end with the subsequent horror of the mushroom shaped cloud, as it expands into the lens of the eye, just as the phone 8 call between the world leaders comes to its decisive conclusion. “In the name of God, if there is a God, you won’t do it!” implores the U.S. President! A long pause. The leader of Iran speaks, simultaneously with the music’s crescendo and the dissolving of the mushroom shaped cloud. The attack is called off! The song/video ends with breathlessly beautiful visions of a paradise on earth, as we pan back down to the live stadium stage, where people of all colors are smiling, laughing, dancing, and generally celebrating together.
A new scene has burst open, of people dancing to the world music theme expressed in a reprise of the song, “Song On The Radio”, a joyous, pounding rhythm. And then, cut to the woman (Clay’s Mom back in Fairgrove) who awakens from her dream as her husband, Jim, gently touches her. Disoriented at first, she then looks up at him and smiles. He tells her that he has just received a call from Clay. Good news! The Visionaries have been invited to be part of an international celebrity Peace Concert tour. They will be performing in Madison Square Garden next month.
With that, the audience is left not sure if what they saw was real or not, but it doesn’t matter. The feeling that “love conquers all, if we believe” (even unto death) has been absorbed, and the message that we must “choose” to avoid the ultimate disaster has been passed on once again.
The style idea of the film is to combine forms into one delicious stew, seamlessly.
The concert scenes are excerpts from the Concert Tour combined with the creative spontaneity of partially scripted backstage scenes derived from sets. A large-scale concert shoot (a la Oliver Stone’s “The Doors”, Almost Famous, etc.) should be combined with some of the Tour excerpts as well.
Documentary style should be used to depict exotic cultures, as well as current world media news/events; plain pop realism in order to establish inter-personal relationships and plot; cinema verite/ guerilla style for in and around the concert sites, including random spontaneous interviews; the use of many exciting music 9 video techniques (even including the use of animation in one of them) will be pervasive; and the surrealism of the montages against the realistic storyline will create just the right mixture of conscious and sub-conscious storytelling, alternately liberating and grounding, shocking and soothing, ultimately inspiring feelings of brotherhood and humanitarianism, harmony and understanding, sympathy and love abounding.
The ultimate purpose of the film is to help head off World War III.