The Dream Sequence: Refraining from listing the entire film, let’s concentrate instead on this training sequence, in which Cobb explains the process of constructing dreams to Ariadne. It leads to exploding scenery as her subconscious realises it has been duped, before the world folds in on itself and Ariadne uses mirrors to create a new path for them both.
What It Probably Means: If you know you’re in a dream, you can do what you like and have an awesome time.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992)
The Dream Sequence: Sarah Connor has an apocalyptic vision in which a playground of children is overcome by some distant nuclear explosion that decimates everything around, reducing it all to fire and dust, and leaving Connor’s flayed skeleton clinging to the playground fence.
What It Probably Means: ‘Anxiety dream’ undersells it a bit, doesn’t it, but this is just a simple dream in which Sarah is concerned about the oncoming Armageddon that leads to futuristic killer robots destroying all of mankind. But it’s just a dream.
Wild Strawberries (1957)
The Dream Sequence: Aged Professor Isak dreams about blank clock face, empty streets and horse-drawn carriages crashing, spilling out coffins that contain his own dead body.
What It Probably Means: Isak is anxious about time running out on his life and his eventual death. He also can’t tell the time. Probably.
An American Werewolf In London (1981)
The Dream Sequence: A werewolf-bitten David dreams of a family watching The Muppet Show at home, who are then interrupted and slaughtered by demon Nazis. David wakes up and talks to sexy nurse Alex... who is then stabbed by a demon Nazi. It’s a nightmare within a nightmare!
What It Probably Means: The Muppet Show can seriously damage the human psyche.
The Science Of Sleep (2006)
The Dream Sequence: Stephane’s surreal dreams that blur the line between fantasy and reality sees him turn up to work with giant hands, where he proceeds to fight with a co-worker and then have sex on a photocopier.
What It Probably Means: Big hands? An obvious sign of overcompensation for shortcomings in other... uh... areas. Coupled with such a rigorous display of testosterone, Stephane is clearly trying to make up for something...
The Dream Sequence: Marcello Mastroianni’s Guido dreams of being stuck in a traffic jam, and then being actually trapped in his car while all the other drivers and passengers look on impassively. Ultimately, he breaks free and flies away, before finding himself floating above a beach, tethered to the sand like a kite. Then he falls into the sea.
What It Probably Means: Feelings of helplessness and a desire to break free from the shackles of a depressing routine. Or maybe he just really hates his Monday morning commute.
Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)
The Dream Sequence: Stoner Jeff Spicoli accepts a surfing trophy and is interviewed about his incredible achievement while two bikini babes hang off his arms.
What It Probably Means: Classic wish-fulfilment. Spicoli really wants to be good surfer. And to be surrounded by beautiful women. And to be interviewed by a crusty old reporter.
The Dream Sequence: Troubled amnesiac Gregory Peck has a fractured dream involving giant eyes being cut up with big scissors before a revealing a game of blackjack played with huge playing cards, some of them blank. And then a masked man appears beside the table, alluding to the film’s mysterious murderer.
What It Probably Means: The disturbing, fractured imagery highlights his fragile state of mind, but mostly the dream just means that he is a huge fan of the work of one Salvador Dali.
The Fly (1986)
The Dream Sequence: Upon finding out that she is pregnant with the child of a steadily mutating Seth Brundle, Veronica has a nightmare in which she dreams that she is giving birth to a giant, squirming maggot.
What It Probably Means: Anxiety dreams are common among pregnant ladies. Veronica is just concerned about the health of her baby and her ability to cope with impending motherhood. There's really nothing else for her to be worried about. Nope.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Dream Sequence: The Dude's gloriously epic bowling-themed musical number sees him get served shoes by Saddam Hussein before being bowled down the alley himself, giving him a sneak peek up the skirts of the accompanying dancing girls. Then things take a sour turn as he hits the pins and men with giant scissors start to chase him.
What It Probably Means: It's wish fulfilment that turns into an anxiety dream. He starts off at the top of his sporting game and the peak of his sexual prowess, but then getting chased with scissors alludes to a fear of having something chopped off. Whether it's his hair or the 'little' Dude, ultimately it means a fear of being emasculated. It also means that he smokes a hell of a lot of weed.