I had been hesitant to post the above gif when I saw it last week - even though I have things to say about it! - because it comes from a scene in Call Me By Your Name that hadn't been released in any promotional materials yet. The only reason it had made its way onto Tumblr was because, as you might have heard, the film itself leaked online via somebody's screener. But now I feel no such qualms because Sufjan Stevens just dropped a video for his song from the film called "Mystery of Love" and that shot shows up in the video!
So now it has been released as a promotional material,
and I can talk about it! Hooray for another reason
to talk about Call Me By Your Name!
The shot in the film itself looks like this (someone on Tumblr reversed the colors back, which is how we get the gif up top) and comes near the end of the film - so if you haven't seen the movie yet stop reading this, and why were you reading this anyway?!? - and I still haven't worked out whose head it is supposed to be inside of.
The entire sequence is like this: Oliver is standing naked at the window looking out. This is the morning right before they say goodbye at the train station. Oliver looks at the bed and we see Elio is asleep. And then we see several flashes of images with the colors reversed - we also see them clambering over the war memorial that plays an integral part in the middle of the film.
So the idea of the images is "If only we'd been able to live our lives free and out in the open, oh what fun we would have had." But whose head are these images supposed to come from? We see them immediately after that shot of Elio sleeping, so they could be Elio's Dream. But it's also possible they are Oliver's thoughts standing there looking at Elio as he sleeps.
The probable definite answer is "It doesn't matter - at this point Oliver is Elio and Elio and is Oliver, they can call each other by the other's names and these dreams could be the dreams of either or both of them at this moment."
But it's a sequence that has fascinated me since the very first time I saw the film and only now that we have access to the images slowed down and reversed do I even have a handle on what we're even seeing in this scene - I have seen the movie in the theater eleven times and it didn't matter how much I prepped myself to figure out what I was seeing in this sequence, it always eluded me until now. For a long time I thought they were images that we had actually seen previously in the movie, but knowing now that we're seeing this Unrealized Public Ideal, this ode to What Might Have Been... well it only breaks my heart even further.