Where was What Dreams May Come filmed?
American, House, Apartment, Artsy, NatureScapes
Americana/Anywhere America, Art Deco, Retreat, Federal Building
About What Dreams May Come
The 1998 fantasy drama movie What Dreams May Come was adapted from the 1978 novel by Richard Matheson, which has the same title. The movie was written by Ronald Bass and directed by Vincent Ward. Robin Williams stars in the movie, alongside Annabella Sciorra, and Cuba Gooding Jr. This guide to filming locations contains spoilers for the movie.
At the beginning of the film, Chris Nielsen, played by Robin Williams, meets Annie Collins. Chris is a pediatrician and Annie is an artist, and the two meet when in Switzerland. They hit it off immediately, and the early scenes of the film show them getting married and having two kids. Chris and Annie seem to have a great life, but it takes a tragic turn when their son and daughter, Ian and Marie, die in a car crash.
Four years after this incident tragedy strikes the family again when Chris dies similarly to his kids. He does not realize he is dead at first and even attempts to somehow communicate with his wife. Annie is struggling with the loss of her family, and the attempts Chris makes to contact her are shown to just make her grief worse.
He decides to move on and ends up in his version of Heaven. The landscape resembles a painting that Annie created, and Chris is joined by a woman named Leona and a man named Albert. Leona looks like a stewardess he once met, but Chris realizes over time she is actually his daughter, Marie.
On Earth, Annie can no longer deal with the loss of her family and kills herself. Chris expects she will also move on to Heaven but finds out those that commit suicide actually go to hell. Despite Albert’s attempts to stop him, Chris sets out to save Annie from hell. A tracker accompanies him, as well as Albert, but Chris realizes Albert is actually his son, Ian. When Chris makes it to hell he is informed that he could be trapped forever.
Annie does not recognize Chris, as she has amnesia, but when Chris decides to stay in hell with her it jogs her memory. Annie wants to save her husband, so she manages to ascend to heaven, bringing Chris with her. The two are reunited with their children and are a family again in heaven. In the final scenes of What Dreams May Come, Chris and Annie decide to be reincarnated and are seen meeting once again on Earth.
What Dreams May Come Locations
Locations used for filming the movie What Dreams May Come can be found in Montana and Northern California. Various California cities were used, including Piedmont, San Rafael, Alameda, San Jose, and Oakland. Glacier National Park, found in Montana, was also used for multiple scenes in the movie.
This film is full of plenty of special effects, which were added in post-production, or achieved with a special type of film called Fuji Velvia. The area around the city of San Francisco was used for a majority of filming, including shots on the man-made Treasure Island. This island was also used for many of the scenes depicting hell. Studios in Alameda County, California were also used throughout the filming of What Dreams May Come.
Mountain View Cemetery and Piedmont Funeral Services in Oakland, California are featured as settings in the fantasy drama movie. Some of the church scenes in the film were shot at St. Vincent's Church, located in San Rafael, California. There were also a few international locations used in the film, including Lake Como in Italy and Angel Falls in Venezuela. The locations used in What Dreams May Come are still standing today and can be visited by fans of the film. Some of these sites have also been seen in other movies over the years.
Chris and Annie meet on vacation scene in What Dreams May Come
Lake Como, Italy
One of the first scenes in What Dreams May Come shows Chris and Annie meeting for the first time. Both of them are on vacation in Switzerland, and they meet by a lake. The lake used for this film shoot was Lake Como in Italy, a beautiful site that can still be visited today. The movie featured other international shots in Venezuela. This scene features one of the most well-known lines in the film as well, which is spoken by Robin Williams, who plays Chris.
In this opening scene Chris can be heard saying, “When I was young, I met this beautiful girl by a lake.”
Many fans love this line, and it even comes back at the end of the movie, as a way to show Chris and Annie are soulmates in every life. Annie and Chris immediately fall in love, and the first scenes of the movie show them getting married and having two kids. Their kids, Marie and Ian, end up dying in a car crash.
One of the early scenes shows the two kids leaving in a car, but the crash they die in is not shown.
Instead, Chris is heard in a voice-over saying, “It was the last time Annie and I saw them alive.”
Ian’s funeral scene in What Dreams May Come
Mountain View Cemetery, 5000 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, California
While Ian’s funeral is not shown right after the children die, Chris remembers it later in a flashback. This is one of the most emotional scenes in What Dreams May Come. During the funeral, Chris gives a eulogy for Ian.
During this monologue in the movie, Chris says, “There's a man Ian never got to know - the man he was growing up to be. He's a good-looking, clear-eyed young fella, about 25. I can see him. He's the type of guy that men want to be around because he has integrity, you know? He has character. You can't fake that. He's a guy women want to be around, too, because there's tenderness in him, respect, loyalty, and courage. And women respond to that. Makes him a terrific husband, this guy. I see him as a father. That's where he really shines. See, when he looks in his kid's eyes and that kid knows that his dad really sees him, he sees who he is. Then that child knows that he is an amazing person. He's quite a guy that I'll never get to meet. I wish I had."
Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California was used for the shots of Ian’s funeral. You can reach this public cemetery by private car, public transportation, call a taxi, or use a rideshare app.
Chris dies in a car crash scene in What Dreams May Come
Robert C. Levy Tunnel in San Francisco
Following the death of his children, Chris is also killed in a tragic car crash. However, Chris is not in the car when it happens. Instead, he is killed after racing to help those involved in a car pile-up on the road. Chris is trying to save those that were involved in the crash, but ends up getting hit by a passing car, and is killed.
At first, he doesn’t realize he is dead and tries to interact with living people to no avail. The streets of San Francisco were used for filming this scene. Chris is killed in a tunnel, and white light can be seen shining at the end, as a way to show Chris should be in the afterlife.
In the hospital in the next scene, Chris does not realize he is dead, and someone asks if he knows what happened.
Chris answers with, “Yeah, I had a bad piece of fish before bed.”
Albert Lewis, Chris’s old friend and now his spiritual guide, appears and tells him, “You've died, Chris.”
Chris goes to his own funeral scene in What Dreams May Come
First Baptist Church, 534 22nd Street, Oakland, California
Chris lingers on Earth for longer than his spiritual guide thinks he should. During this time, he tries to communicate with Annie, and even attends his own funeral. During the scene of Chris’s funeral in What Dreams May Come, he sits next to Annie and does his best to comfort her. However, Annie doesn’t know this and none of her dead husband’s efforts work. After the funeral, she goes to his gravesite, and Chris is still with her.
He tells Annie, “Don't worry, baby, I'm not leaving you alone. I'm not goin' anywhere.”
Annie is crying and visibly upset, and when Chris sees that his efforts to communicate only cause more pain, he finally agrees to go to Heaven.
He does this after Albert tells him, “The reality is it's over when you stop wanting to hurt her.”
The funeral for Chris was shot in Oakland, California at 1st Baptist Church.
Annie’s suicide scene in What Dreams May Come
Treasure Island, San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, California
Even in Heaven, Chris is still upset about leaving Annie behind, and Albert states the two are soulmates.
He tells Chris that soulmates are, “sort of like twin souls tuned into each other.”
On Earth, Annie is consumed by the grief of losing her children and then her husband. She commits suicide, and Chris is able to find some comfort in the idea that she is not suffering anymore. When he expects to see her in Heaven, Chris learns that people who kill themselves actually go to hell.
Albert tells Chris, “You never see her. She's a suicide. Suicides go somewhere else...The real Hell is your life gone wrong.”
Chris learns suicides go to hell because everyone is given an afterlife created by their own mind, and Annie’s despair condemned her.
The shots of Chris learning about Annie’s suicide were filmed on Treasure Island in the San Fransico Bay Area.
Chris finds Annie in hell scene in What Dreams May Come
When Chris learns about Annie’s fate, he decides to journey into hell to save her. He finds her in a place that looks like their house, but this version has been twisted into a nightmare. Chris is told all he can really do is say goodbye because souls can’t leave hell. However, Annie has no idea who Chris is, and he is not able to get her to remember. Chris decides to stay in hell with his wife, and the speech he gives jogs her memory.
In one of the most emotional scenes of What Dreams May Come, Chris says, “I'm sorry, babe, but there are some things I have to say. I've only got a few moments left. I'm sorry for all the things I'll never give you. I'll never buy you another meatball sub with extra sauce -- that was a big one! I'll never make you smile. I just wanted us to be old together, just two old farts laughin' at each other as our bodies fell apart, together at the end by that lake in your painting. That was our Heaven, see? There's lots of things to miss: books, naps, kisses, and fights! God, we had some great ones. Thank you for those. Thank you for every kindness. Thank you for our children. For the first time I saw them. Thank you for being someone I was always proud to be with. For your guts. For your sweetness. For how you always looked, for how I always wanted to touch you. You were my life. I apologize for every time I failed you. Especially this one."
When Annie remembers who Chris is, and sees the fate he will be doomed to, she ascends to Heaven and brings her husband with her. In Heaven, the entire family is together. Chris and Annie ultimately decide to be reincarnated to meet and love again. Treasure Island was the location for many of the shots of hell.
The fantasy drama What Dreams May Come was adapted from the novel of the same name, written by Ronald Bass. The novel was published in 1978, and the movie was released in 1998. Robin Williams stars in the movie as Chris, opposite of Annabella Sciorra, who plays his wife Annie. The film follows Chris as he meets the love of his life, has and then loses his children, and dies in a car crash.
When Chris has to leave his wife behind and ascend to heaven, he finds himself in a beautiful setting that looks like a painting made by his wife. When Annie commits suicide and ends up in hell, Chris is willing to risk his own eternity to reach her. He even resolves to stay in hell with her when realizing Annie has amnesia.
However, Annie’s memories come back, and she saves both herself and Chris by ascending to heaven and taking him with her. While the two later choose to be reincarnated, an alternate ending depicts reincarnation as part of the natural order, and they are seemingly reborn twice.