I love the use of dreams; they are fun and whimsical like actual dreams. But the thing I have found most interesting about this movie is the nightmare horses.
These two ideas are perfect for this movie because when do the Guardians come to your house? They all come when you are sleeping or at night. Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Sand Man, and the Easter Bunny all stop by children’s houses at night. Thus, it is logical that the Boogey man, Pitch (Jude Law), would use nightmares to his advantage.
Also, the fact that the Man-in-the-Moon is their kind of God works will with the dream emphasis. The lord of the night directs the Guardians.
The Guardians’ job is “to watch over the children of the world and keep them safe. To bring wonder, hope, and dreams.” Even North (Alec Baldwin) refers specifically to keeping the children’s dreams in mind.
Sandy brings the children happy dreams about things they love. However, Pitch brings the nightmares; he calls them fear and they look like horses. He changes Cupcake’s (Dominique Grund) happy unicorn dream into a scary one.
Horses have apparently represented nightmares for a long time. Here is a history of the use of horses as nightmares.
I find it interesting that all of Pitch’s nightmares are horses. As before mentioned, horses have been a part of nightmare mythology for a long time. Pitch would need a herd of horses to take over Sandy. He is a powerful Guardian and holds his own for awhile. But finally Pitch takes all of the “sweet dreams”.
After Sandy reinstates the dreams, Cupcake gets her unicorn back. I love this full circle because unicorns are associated with light, magic, and happy things, the opposite of horses in this movie.
Throughout the movie, we think the nightmares belong to Pitch. However, the horses are fear and nightmares. They do not hold affiliations with anyone. It is Pitch’s “fear they smell” in the end and he is dragged under the broken bed by a herd of horses.
This blog started out as an analysis of the imagery of horses as nightmares. However, it has turned into an analysis of what happens to children during the night. Night time is a child’s private time. They can talk to stuffed animals, experience nightmares, and build belief in magical creatures all at night while their parents have no idea. Who is actually dreaming of sugar-plums?
Not much analysis of this movie specifically. However, I did find some more on horses as nightmares and The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli.
As always, I want to show the tropes of horses.
Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare is one of the most referenced pieces when searching for horses and nightmares. Here is an analysis of this painting.
Thanks for reading!