Arizona Dream


Director Emir Kusturica
Original title The Arrowtooth Waltz
Working titles Arizona Eskimo, American dreamers
Release 1993 (France)
Original language English
Length 2h20
Music Goran Bregović, Iggy Pop
Script David Atkins, Emir Kusturica
Photography Vilko Filać


Silver Bear (Special Jury Prize) at the International Film Festival of Berlin, 1993

  • Silver Bear (Special Jury Prize) at the International Film Festival of Berlin, 1993
  • Audience prize at the Warsaw film festival, 1994


An Inuit hunter races his sled home with a fresh-caught halibut. This fish pervades the entire film, in real and imaginary form. Meanwhile, Axel tags fish in New York as a naturalist's gopher. He's happy there, but a messenger arrives to bring him to Arizona for his uncle's wedding. It's a ruse to get Axel into the family business. In Arizona, Axel meets two odd women: vivacious, needy, and plagued by neuroses and familial discord. He gets romantically involved with one, while the other, rich but depressed, plays accordion tunes to a gaggle of pet turtles…



  • Johnny Depp …. Axel Blackmar
  • Jerry Lewis …. Leo Sweetie
  • Faye Dunaway …. Elaine Stalker
  • Lili Taylor …. Grace Stalker
  • Vincent Gallo …. Paul Leger
  • Paulina Porizkova …. Millie
  • Michael J. Pollard …. Paul
  • Emir Kusturica …. client of the bar in New York


Soundtrack of Arizona Dream

The music of the film was written by Goran Bregović.

Details, titles & lyrics of the soundtrack

Buy online :,,,,,

Note : apart from Goran Bregović's music, in the film there are three songs of Django Reinhardt.


CountryFormataudio languagessubtitles languages buy online Description
Germany DVD Z2 PAL English 2.0, German 2.0, Spanish
Belgium DVD Z2 PAL English 2.0, French 2.0 French, DutchAmazon.fr4 films set1)
France laserdisc English, FrenchFrench
France DVD Z2 PAL English 2.0, French 2.0FrenchAmazon.frcollector double DVD edition : more details
France DVD Z2 PAL English 2.0, French 2.0FrenchAmazon.frsimple edition
France DVD Z2 PAL English 2.0, French 2.0 FrenchAmazon.fr2 films set 2)
France HD DVDEnglish 4.0, French 4.0, German 2.0 French, English, German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, release on 21 may 2007
France Blu-Ray? ? release on 17 june 2009
HungaryDVD Z2 PAL English 2.0, Magyar 2.0Magyar
ItalyDVD Z2 PAL English 2.0, Italian simple edition
ItalyDVD Z2 PAL English 2.0, Italian 2.0Italian collector edition (includes the final sequence-shot)
ItalyBlu-ray English DTS, Italian includes a booklet
United KingdomDVD Z2 PAL English 2.0-
drapeau_serbie.jpg SerbiaVHS PAL
USAvideo download3)English-


In 1988, Emir was invited to the USA by Miloš Forman to teach at the Columbia University in New York. Among his students, there was David Atkins who gave him in 1991 the scenario of a strange film, which name often changed, American dreamers, Arizona Eskimo, the Arrowtooth waltz then Arizona Dream, depending on the numerous rewritings of the script by Emir Kusturica. But meanwhile, the events go dramatically faster and the civil war bursts in Yugoslavia. In Sarajevo, bosniak forces get into the family flat of the Kusturicas and take the Prizes Emir has won. He must stop the shooting to go and help his parents to find refuge in Montenegro ; his father will die a few months later of a heart attack. For Emir, the death of his father matched with the death of Yugoslavia. This death will deeply affect him, and the shooting of Arizona Dream will also be strongly affected.

The film was shot in the United States, produced by UGC and should have been distributed by Warner, but the film was not entitled to a single theatre in the United States ! … This is quite understandable, considering the violent local critics the film received, such as : ”All of it is has odd and badly acted boron, guaranteed to clear theatres in record time.” - Boxoffice Magazine

An incredible 12 minutes sequence-shot was supposed to finish the film, but judged too dark by the producers, it was removed from the final cut.

Paul Leger is a great fan of cinema: his favorite films are : North by Northwest (1959) by Alfred Hitchcock, The Godfather: Part II (1974) by Francis Ford Coppola and Raging Bull (1980) by Martin Scorcese.

The film was mainly shot in Douglas (Arizona), as well as in New York and in Alaska, reaching thus the three corners of the american territory. The film is, by the way, articulated on triangles : Axel is shared between the love for Grace and for Elaine.

Emir Kusturica : ”Isn't this image of a fish swimming in a deserted architecture, finally (…) the image of what we are ? Dumb fishes, unable to do anything essential for their existence…

Emir Kusturica : ”The America I love is like the cinema it does not produce anymore.

The film was shot in LC Concept digital sound. It is the cinema max Linder in Paris which was the French theatre to show the most films in LC Concept. The cinema preserves the material as well as some discs, and shows regularly, at the annual festival “the max Linder makes its Cineclub”, Arizona Dream in this format now disappeared. Other theatres were also equipped with LC Concept in Paris : Gaumont Grand Ecran Italie, UGC Triumphs, UGC Normandy, Forum Horizon… Unfortunately, a bad marketing policy (the process, according to its inventors, was firstly intended for the “large prestige theatres”), combined with a stealing of the patent by American system DTS in 1993, the whole followed by a long trial which will prohibit for example the exploitation in France of Jurassic Park in DTS (shown in simple Dolby SR), will condemn the process which will be finally sold to the Americans.

If you want to know one's soul, ask him what are his dreams… And you will have pity of those who are in the shit.

The film wasn't finished for the Cannes film festival of 1992, but the crew went to promote it. Of course, they also went to the Berlin festival where the film was in the official competition (see photo above), and then to the one of Belgrade (see the cover of Politika magazine).


  • Télérama Kusturica revisits the myth of the American dream. A tonic and delirious fable, free like air.
  • fnacThis splendid film, delirious and born in the pain (victim of a nervous breakdown, the director even had to stop shooting), is constantly in balance between dream and reality. Ignored in the United States, Arizona Dream had a great success in France where it acquired, with time, a cult status.
  • StudioA trip… This film is a trip. A real trip, from Europe to the United States, and from Arizona to the North Pole. An imaginary trip, also, where a fish suddenly start to fly and where most improbable meetings become suddenly possible.




en/arizona_dream.txt · Last modified: 2011/10/01 16:04 by matthieu1