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First, a word about the format - I don't know whether this was a movie or a TV series, b/c I saw it aired in pieces on PBS back in the 1980s. I don't even recall if it was originally voiced in english, dubbed over, or subtitled. I'll just call it a movie for now.

The movie seemed to be set in Europe in what looked like the 1960's or 70's, where almost all the people were gone. The protagonist was probably a 20-something man, who routinely visited a psychiatrist. I think the protagonist also had a girlfriend, but most of the dialogs seemed to be between the man and the doctor.

It was kind of a mystery where all the people had gone, and I think the man was nominally seeing the doctor to cope with the stress of it all, or had amnesia and suspected he knew The Truth. However, it turns out that the doctor discovers that the man is somehow the key to the reality that the characters share, and during hypnosis sessions, discovers he can manipulate the man and thereby reality. To make it easier for himself, the doctor gives the man a code word to return the man to a hypnotic trance on command. The code word, I am positive, was 'Antwerp'.

I don't think I ever saw the end of this, but the 'truth' might have been that World War III was fought with neutron bombs, and that the man was actually just dreaming everything as he wandered around the city, dying. Or not. It would be nice to know how it turned out, but I don't even have the name of the show.

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    It sounds a lot like Ursula Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven which was on PBS at that time. Some details seem wrong though, like the underpopulation. – Niall C. Dec 3 '11 at 1:00
  • @NiallC. - well, I'm not 100% sure about the population thing. – JustJeff Dec 3 '11 at 1:20
  • For that matter, I now think the only reason I thought it had anything to do with Europe was that the reference to Antwerp had stuck so firmly in my memory. – JustJeff Dec 3 '11 at 14:59
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While this was said in the comments, by Niall C., I'll put it as an answer with details, I honestly think this is Lathe of Heaven. One reason is it had a very similar impact on me.

It turns out this is on YouTube. Notice it starts with scenes of a war after great destruction.

While it was only a 2 hour production and not aired in installments, it had many of the same features:

  • A lot of the filming was done in the Dallas/Fort Worth area because of the futuristic architecture. I remember seeing some of the buildings used in filming when I was there. (I also saw some of the sets they used for Logan's Run that looked quite futuristic or non-American for the 70s/80s.)
  • George Orr (the protagonist) had effective dreams: what he dreamed happened. He was sent to a counselor because of this and the counselor figured out what was going on and started manipulating him into dreaming what he wanted him to dream.
  • To cure overpopulation and other problems, at one point he dreamed that there had been a plague that had killed off over 1/2 of humanity.
  • George Orr did have a girlfriend.
  • George Orr had to keep seeing Dr. Haber (the counselor) to deal with his dreams, but the real reason he kept seeing him was because Haber was using Orr. Haber's office did give off a strong psychiatrist's office vibe, and I think that included a couch for Orr to lie down on during sessions.

I'm putting the ending as spoilers, and it's marred by my memory, but remember, it's a big reveal, so read if you are trying to figure out if this is it, but avoid it until you can at least watch it on YouTube or on DVD.

At the end:

As George Orr is having more problems putting things together, he is also dealing with dreams that haunt him about a war and radioactive fallout and eventually he can never see past what happens in those dreams. I think he uses a phrase like, "I never see past that April."

He eventually, while in a session, realizes the war is real and THIS, what we see, is a dream and says something like, "This is the dream." He realizes that somehow, from radiation poisoning or something, that he was able to re-create reality after the war, as he was dying, and this is the reality he created.

I don't remember exactly how this happened, but Haber was, for some reason, pushing him to deal with all this or to find the truth, and when Orr found it out, he was more at peace, but it drove Haber mad. The last scene is when Orr and his girlfriend see Haber, in a wheelchair, with a nurse, and unable to function or communicate. Orr looks into his eyes and says, "You've seen it, haven't you? The world after April."

Again, my memory may be faulty, but the spoilers show how he's the key to the entire sitaution and that the issue of their having been a serious war is critical to the story.

  • I haven't seen the movie, but I've read the book, and JustJeff's question strongly reminds me of the book. There are differences, but about what you'd expect from a movie adaptation and partial recollection. The word “Antwerp” sens Orr to sleep in the book. – user56 Dec 3 '11 at 14:56
  • Yeah, I think it is Lathe of Heaven. Just looked at the first 20 minutes or so on-line, and recognized it immediately. – JustJeff Dec 4 '11 at 12:18
  • My brother emailed Larry Fast and asked him if the song "The World After April" was named after this bit from The Lathe of Heaven. Larry Fast replied and said "yes." allmusic.com/song/the-world-after-april-mt0010557209 – steveha Jun 23 '16 at 2:20
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Sorry for answering so late in this forum. Yes, the movie is 'The Lathe of Heaven' which oddly enough, I'm watching right now on YouTube.

Don't know why the movie has an effect on me (still, and since it first aired in the 1980's).

Here's the YouTube link:

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    This was already answered and accepted a couple years ago.. All you did is provide a link that any cursory search could find. I'd suggest looking at the Tour under the help menu above. Hint: since reading the Tour gives you a badge, and you have no badges, it's obvious when someone has not read it. ;) – Meat Trademark Feb 20 '14 at 10:40

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