Depictions of sex, violence, and crime abound in many of today's movies, sometimes making it seem that the idyllic life has vanished - even from our imaginations. But, as Wheeler Winston Dixon shows in this unique overview, paradise has not always been lost. For many years, depictions of heaven, earthly paradises, and utopias were common in popular films. Illustrated throughout with intriguing, rare stills, and organized so as to provide historical context, "Visions of Paradise" surveys a huge array of films that have offered us glimpses of a life that is rich and meaningful, free from strife, devoid of pain and privation, and full of harmony in every sense. In films, such as "Moana", "White Shadows in the South Seas", "The Green Pastures", "Heaven Can Wait", "The Enchanted Forest", "The Bishop's Wife", "Carousel", "Bikini Beach", "Elvira Madigan", and many others, characters, and the audience by association, partake in a vision of personal freedom and safety - a zone of privilege and protection that transcends the stresses and demands of daily existence. Many of the films discussed are from the 1960s - perhaps the most "Edenic" decade in contemporary cinema.
It was a period when everything seemed momentarily possible and radical change for the better was briefly taken for granted. As Dixon makes clear, however, these films have not disappeared with the dreams of a generation; they continue to resonate today, offering a tonic to the darker visions that have replaced them.