Could The Sandman Be Based On Real-Life Events?!

MOVIE NEWS – Season 1 of Sandman looks back on a rare and extraordinary “sleeping sickness” epidemic that occurred between 1916 and 1927.



WARNING! Spoiler alert for the first season of The Sandman!

In the premiere episode of The Sandman, which you can read our review of here, the capture of Dream causes a global sleep epidemic from 1916, the year that Dream (Tom Sturridge) is captured by Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance), until 1927. Ironically, this is the same time when a sleeping sickness known as lethargic encephalitis struck 5 to 10 million people worldwide, and half of them died almost immediately. But there is a twist in Netflix’s history with the disease:

“Burgess, the self-styled Magus, is a British warlock who intended to apprehend Dream’s sister, Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), and force her to restore his dead son to life as well as grant Roderick immortality.”

“Instead, Burgess’ ritual inadvertently captured Dream in 1916. Robbed of his symbols of office, his ruby, his helmet, and his bag of sand, Dream is imprisoned by the Magus for over a century. However, the disappearance of the lord of dreams wreaked havoc on the waking world and Morpheus’ realm, the Dreaming, which began to collapse as several dreams and nightmares abandoned the dimensional plane. Beyond the Dreaming, in the waking world, a sleeping sickness spread and affected millions of people, who simply fell asleep and didn’t wake up.”

“One of them, Unity Kincaid (Sandra James-Young), was a pivotal victim who was supposed to become the Dream Vortex of her era. Instead, that power passed to her granddaughter, Rose Walker (Vanesu Samunyai).”


What could have caused this mysterious 1916 epidemic of sleeping sickness?


The virus that caused encephalitis lethargica was never definitively identified, and although many of the survivors seemed to have recovered, some were incapacitated years later by a crippling Parkinson’s-like syndrome. This real-life event has been commemorated in film before. In 1990, the late Robin Williams starred in Awakening, a film based on Dr Oliver Sacks’ book about sleeping sickness and the beneficial effects of a drug called L-Dopa, which was given to catatonic patients who survived the 1917-1928 epidemic. The sleeping sickness epidemic ended abruptly in 1927 for no apparent reason.

In the Sandman series, Morpheus’s return to the Dream World ended the sleeping sickness, and all was right with the world until John Dee (David Thewlis) threatened to corrupt the Dream Ruby, but Morpheus stopped him.

The first season of The Sandman is now available on Netflix.

Source: Screen Rant

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