(Last update on this post: March 2023) I’ve created a list of the top 20 (In my opinion) films about lucid dreaming. Along side each film, I’ll explain a little bit about the plot, and there will be a link to find it online if you’re interested. Enjoy!
Oh, there’s also trailers so you can get a feel for how good the film is!
1: Inception (the classic)
A lucid classic! Inception shows the story of a group of ‘dream thieves’ who break into people’s minds and plant/steal ideas. It includes multiple ‘layers of dreaming’, shared dreaming, and more! They also use a special type of reality check called a ‘totem’.
2: The Matrix collection
This is a film in which the ‘world’ as we know it is not real. Everything is created to give us the illusion that we’re part of something, when in reality something much darker is going on. the main character explores this world and learns to ‘bend the rules’ of the world he previously thought was real.
3: The Good Night
For fans of Sherlock, The Good Night features John! It’s about a man who discovers lucid dreaming when he’s having some trouble in his relationships and waking life. He takes it to extreme measures when he does things like black out his entire room so he sleeps longer, and as the film goes on, he gets more and more attached to the dream world.
4: Vanilla Sky (Tom Cruise)
A great film showing Tom Cruise as he discovers love. He experiences a crossover between the waking and dream life. He gets charged with murder, but did he really do it? Was it in a dream? What’s real…
5: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
A great film by Jim Carey. He’s shown exploring his mind and memories as they’re being erased by a therapist. He wakes up during the removal process and decides while exploring his mind that he wants to keep some memories.
He then battles to stay lucid and aware in his memories while sleeping, so that he can wake up and tell the therapist to stop removing his memories before it’s too late!
6: Anamnesis (Lucid Dreaming Web Series)
I know this isn’t technically a film (yet) it’s definitely worth being on this list. It’s a lucid dreaming web series, showing the journey of someone trying to uncover a ‘truth’ about themselves. It really is great, and I actually had the pleasure of interviewing the team that made it! (Read the Anamnesis interview).
7: Total Recall
One of the more commonly known lucid dreaming movies, this film shows someone who (in the future) decides to implant a memory. They have technology to be able to implant memories of various things in people, and it ‘feels’ like they actually did it. (How very similar to lucidity?!)
But all is not well, because the main character is left in a confusing situation where he’s not sure if what he’s experiencing is the memory, of reality!
8: Source Code
SPOILER ALERT – Source code shows someone living inside a memory, and trying to find out more about what they experienced by ‘reliving the memory’.
In this surreal film, someone invents a bit of technology that allows them to control/manipulate peoples minds through their dreams. The main character must fight to get the technology back form the hands of the evil person who stole it!
10: Waking Life
This is like an animated documentary crossed with a fictional film. It’s a great explanation of lucidity and how it all works. It’s beautiful animated, and interesting!
Probably one of my personal faves. This shows someone whop’s in the army, and in the future they find a planet where they need to drill for oil or some other commodity.
In order to get this crystal/power source, they must get the local ‘aliens’ to move out of the way. In order to gain their trust and make them move, they develop ‘avatars’ which are like artificial versions of the aliens, and they pilot them remotely from a ‘pod’.
As the story goes on, the main character, Jake, grows more attached to the Avatar character and the relationships that are formed.
12: Open Your Eyes
A lucid dreaming short film. It’s not in English, so have a little look around for a version with subtitles, but it’s a great one to watch!
13: The Thirteenth Floor
A thought provoking flick showing the implications of time travel, and projecting yourself back or forwards in time. What happens when you get to the ‘edge of the world’? What’s on the top floor?
An artist kills himself after predicting exactly what would happen in his future. Maybe a slightly darker film compared to the rest of these, but still worth a watch if you’re into this sort of thing!
15: The Cell
A twisted person captures people and holds them in a cell. They’re then mentally tormented and pushed to their limits. The victims get lost in their minds and become insane! Can they be saved?
16: A Nightmare On Elm Street
This was in my first film list, but I feel it should be here again. It’s about nightmares, and how when they’re vivid, they can be VERY scary and realistic.
It also shows how someone learns to escape their nightmares. However, all is not good and well, because what happens when she starts losing track of what’s real and what isn’t? There’s no escape!
A very old film, but it’s good! Explores the dream world and discovers the inner workings of his mind! Will he remain sane? What will he discover?
18: Minority Report
Here’s a lucid flick about premonition. For those of you into the idea of dreams that can predict the future, you’ll love this.
A small group of people are able to have these types of dreams, and in the far future, the police force uses these 3 people to prevent crime before it even happens.
But what happens when their visions start getting mixed up, and what would happen is someone who’s GOING to commit a crime finds out about the vision before they actually do it? Do they change the future? Find out!
No it’s not a typo, the film is called 1408, as in ‘Room 1408’. It shows a man who stays in a hotel room, which is supposedly haunted. He battles for his sanity as things start to go wrong.
The door won’t open, then the hoteling turns off and on, then he starts falling over randomly and hurting himself.. Will he jump from the window? Is it a dream?
I remember seeing this years ago, and it was fairly scary! A group of people caught out in the snow discover that an alien species has invaded one of their minds and wants to take over the world.
The person who has his mind invaded managed to hide in a portion of his mind while the alien takes over the rest of his personality and character! Very interesting.
21: What dreams may come
The main character (Robin Williams) dies in a car crash and is guided through the afterlife. A very dreamy and surreal experience with nice visuals and music.
22: The science of sleep
A graphic designer starts to experience very intense and unusual dreams. The dreams then start to change his reality and he starts warping his relationship with a neighbour he’s interested in.
23: Dreams: Akira kurosawa
A vivid and surreal collection of short films about dream states. In one of them, we’re taken on an adventure through the wedding of some foxes. Very interesting series of short films, even if a little dated now.
24: The lovely bones
After a young girl is kidnapped and murdered, she’s forced to watch her family form the afterlife as they try and find her. She leaves clues along the way and makes the film very interesting by blurring the lines between death and life.
Chronicle is an epic story about a group of kids who find a meteorite outside a party. They go down the tunnel, touch it and over time develop superpowers like telekinesis. It shows how the powers develop over time and they learn to control them and grow stronger. I watch this all the time for dream inspiration!
26: Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko is an unusual film about a guy who can see non linear time. He starts having very disturbing and intense visions of the future through his dreams and also in broad daylight waking life. This is a classic for psychology fans.
27: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
A mystical fantasy story about a man trying to collect souls. He traded the soul of his daughter to the devil many years ago, and now the devils’ coming to collect.
28: Falling Water
A TV show with 3 people diving into what’s real and what isn’t. They realise slowly that they’re all dreaming different parts of the same collective dream, leading to them questioning if they can have a mutual dreaming experience.
29: Alice in wonderland
Alive in wonderland is a classic fantasy film in which a young girl falls down a rabbit hole. She enters a dream world in which anything is possible, and becuase she already has a very open mind she’s able to navigate the dream world very well.
30: Take shelter
In this raunchy film, a man has intense visions about a scary event that’s going to happen in the future. This leads to him wondering if his dreams can predict the future and whether or not he can CHANGE that future or if it’s set in stone.
Best lucid dreaming documentaries of 2023
So due to popular demand I’m going to list a few of the top documentary style films about lucid dreaming that I’ve come across.
These are arranged in no particular order but that being said, there aren’t actually that many documentaries about lucid dreaming (hopefully that will change in the future!). As these are difficult to track down online and the view and download links change or vanish a LOT I’m just going to put the titles here and you can search for them.
- Waking Life (sometimes this is on Netflix)
- Wake up! Exploring The Potential Of Lucid Dreaming
- Conscious Dreaming
- The Phase
- The Lucid Dreamer
- The Nightmare (Also sometimes on Netflix)
What’s the best lucid dreaming movie?
Personally, I have to say Inception. Maybe because I love Leonardo DiCaprio films, I don’t know. I just think the film beautifully portrays what lucidity feels like, and there’s loads of references in it that lucid dreamers ‘just get’.
Even after updating this post a bunch of times, it’s still Inception that maintains the title of best lucid movie. It’s also the movie that REALLY got me into lucid dreaming all those years ago. When I first watched it, I had had a few lucid dreams and knew sort of how it worked..
But Inception took it to a new level.
I decided after watching it that I wanted to learn MUCH more about dream control. I wanted to go deeper and learn everything there was to know about lucid dreaming. I think that’s what makes it my favourite lucid dream movie ever.
Horror movies about dreams
I was going to include a lot of scary movies on this list as well, but I decided to write a different post about that. I wrote a post about the scariest sleep paralysis movies which lists the best ones.
The reason I wrote another post about the scary ones is that I want this list to be only POSITIVE vibes and ideas. The films about sleep paralysis tend to be horror films and more negative energy. I think it’s important to know that before clicking through to see the list and trailers.
Using these movies to lucid dream more
Believe it or not there is actually a way to use these movies to lucid dream more.
By watching a film about lucid dreams, you’re programming your mind to create those experiences. When I watch Inception, my mind is creating new connections and programming itself to be able to go DEEPER into a dreaming state.
When you watch a superhero film or a film with people doing impossible things, you’re programming your mind. By watching that content, you’re more easily able to do that thing. For example I was able to REALLY master telekinesis after seeing the movie ‘Chronicle’.
The reason is that the film takes something that’s ‘impossible’ and makes it real. It makes it into something you can watch and FEEL. And by doing that and taking the ideas on board and imagining more vividly what it would be like to experience those things.
So make a list of the best superhero and ‘impossible’ films you want to watch, and then immerse yourself in that. Watch them several times even. I sometimes watch old X-Men movies to re enforce my knowledge and ideas of certain superpowers I want to play around with.