Greene Screene: Xanadu

Andrew Greene
2 min readApr 2, 2021
Now Showing on The Greene Screene: Xanadu (1980)

“Dreams die.”

“No, not by themselves. We kill them.”

I love to dream. I’m addicted to ideas, having them, keeping them, imagining what they can become some magical day.

I love having dreams more than enacting them, to spare me from disappointment, from hard work. To spare them (and me) from reality.

Xanadu is a film about building dreams, about love, about creative partnership.

It’s also a disaster, a problematic white male fantasy where Sonny, the leading man, and his struggling art career is saved by Kira, a literal Muse and Greek goddess (Olivia Newton-John). What the world gives Sonny extends to a comical degree. Beautiful strangers offer Sonny their bikes, old men offer him their daughters and Kira offers him her love, the first time she’s ever succumbed to mortal love. Not Michelangelo or Shakespeare or Beethoven, but Sonny Malone, a guy who helps Gene “I’ve been known to twinkle a toe or two” Kelly build a roller disco.

That this film is disastrous doesn’t make me love it any less.

Because sometimes plot and dialogue doesn’t matter so much. Sometimes I just want to dance to Electric Light Orchestra’s “I’m Alive” to remind myself that I am indeed so. If I need more evidence, then Gene Kelly’s insane makeover scene never ceases to resuscitate me.

I love movies that seek to give artists hope, to encourage them to dream. The more ridiculous the movie, the better, because many of our dreams are ridiculous, or at least can seem that way to someone else.

I love Xanadu because of its flaws, because this ridiculous dream of a musical was manifested, and despite being reviled when it first came out, has now earned a cult following, been adopted by gay culture and become my fantasy baseball team moniker.

Dreams take on a life of their own when you set them free.

It’s easy to be cynical. Even easier to give up on our dreams. But Xanadu offers a blindingly optimistic counterpoint: believe, love, keep dreaming. And don’t forget the most important part: build the dream.

Dreams can make us passive, afraid of the work that it takes to achieve them, the bravery it takes to share them, and of what might be lost or changed within the transference from idea to reality.

But isn’t that what makes it exciting? Isn’t that what makes us feel alive?

The love, the echoes of long ago

You needed the world to know, they are in Xanadu



Andrew Greene

Writer, director. Creator of The Naked Man Podcast. Human sampler tray following breadcrumbs, forever hungry. @WanderingGreene on IG, Letterboxd & Twitter