Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Eyes Wide Shut

Due online by 1/26: What is the relationship between story and being; in other words, between narrative disclosure and the experience of identity (and thus of ‘reality) in Eyes Wide Shut? For example: how does the story that Alice tells affect Bill? What is the relationship between narrative and reality in the film? How does the narration of the dream recast this relationship?
What does Ziegler do to recast the constructed story for Bill, for the audience of the film? How does the story of Mandy's death reframe events for Bill?

I am asking you to post multiple times in this assignment, and to try and give evidence for your claims by talking as specifically about the film as I did after we watched the 'first act' of the screenplay in class... please give examples and explain what you 'saw' in the film with direct quotation or reference to scenes, editing choices, framing and dialog that make up the "story".

Due online by 1/28: Add an additional comment that weaves together your reactions to at least 3 of the comments made by your classmates so far.

32 comments:

Sky said...

When thinking about the question at hand, I think stories are affected & altered by both parties (sender & reciever). I believe the psyche of both have a great deal of influence on how the story is told and how the story is taken. Obviously, Kidman's story affected Bill for the remainder of the show. Constant flashes of her with the military officer would run thru his mind as he wander the streets and road in cabs. This very interesting because she clearly states that nothing had happened between the two. But the mind of the man works that much different from that of a woman. Men are from Mars and women are from where? I think if any man where to put himself in the shoes of Bill, many would have probably made it to a strip club that night. It just so happens he made it to a hookers house and an orgy....hey it is a movie. Ok, no, I'm being silly, but I truely think the stories told in the movie, just like real life, affect the behaviors of people. In this story, it happens to be a rich doc and his wife.

Dr. G said...

Great for jumping in there and going first Sky! I want to stress that although I used the description of the orgy scene as a "stripper's ball" we should be as specific as possible. This metaphor of mine can be misleading, so I am popping in to correct myself only... What we see is an aristocratic secret society with a high degree of exclusivity, a club of sorts. To call it a mere "stripper's ball' as I did in class, ignores so much about the ritual being conducted -- which is not imitating any known ritual, but was staged for the film specifically by Kubrick and his choreographer. I am big fan of the composer of the soundtrack for the spooky parts of the film, Jocelyn Pook.

Anyways, I'll let you guys hash out the film here, and won't be commenting explicitly on people's comments... other than in this fashion, to correct things I may have said in class, or to amplify them in some direction...

Arlene said...

Hi Sky: I agree with you. When Alice discloses her Officer Story to Bill he is profoundly shaken to find that his wife “cheated” on him. The fact that she didn’t physically do it doesn’t matter. As she said, her response to the Officer was so strong that it affected her relationship with Bill. More than a year passed and he is only now finding this out. He feels betrayed. He will be reviewing the past year and realizing that when they were together, Alice might have been thinking about her Officer. His perception of her identity as a faithful wife has imploded. That’s what she wanted, I think.

Now his mind takes over and he imagines her with the Officer just as Sky says. So the fact that she wasn’t actually ever on that bed with the guy doesn’t matter to him. It’s as real to him as can be. And that sets in motion, what? I guess his “permission” to cheat on her. He is acting as if she broke the marriage contract – thinking about doing something is as bad as doing it. There is a "truthiness" to those thoughts that take on a life of their own in his mind. I agree with Sky that those thoughts then affect his behavior.

Well, in fact, Alice’s exchange of looks, vibes, whatever with the Officer were not harmless fantasy because she was ready to run off with him. If that is the case, then something is not altogether right with the marriage. Fantasy=good; admission of temptation to chuck your marriage after a fleeting psychic sexual exchange=bad.

Her role as a stay at home mother and the loss of a professional identity, combined with Bill’s complacency towards her (“you’re never jealous of me!”) signal, to me, that she’s experiencing a mini identity crisis because she finds the roles of mother and wife stifling. She managed the art gallery into the ground so that failure and the loss of identity from work coinciding with the demands of motherhood and a little marital ennui primed her to magnify her encounter into a mental affair that took on more significance because she feels her life is a little dull and empty. That’s my take on it. And so narrative disclosure, in this case Alice’s, has everything to do with identity. In Bill’s eyes, she looses her identity as a life partner he can take for granted “forever” and from her perspective she gains the identity of a woman who demands an exciting and passionate life. It is through this “story” of her affair that she has ruminated about for some time that her sense of identity changed. Revealing it to Bill was the next step in how the story transforms her identity.

cristie said...

Wow, Arlene- you fully summed up what I was thinking so well! Since you had covered Alice's identity, I would like to touch upon the identity of Bill.
I do feel that he makes a strong effort in making his wife feel beautiful. The comments by him in the opening scene, telling her how she is always beautiful and the gestures in which he displays throughout the film. I noticed that throughout the movie he does try to express his love for her in several ways.
She has no longer been 100 percent in the relationship mentally as she strongly has been fantasizing about the naval officer. The "look" she displays at their opening sex scene after the party had ended shows she wants more/ is not fully happy.(This is the same look which is seen on the cover of the DVD/book.) The strong gesture of looking away lines up and proves that she is somewhat sick of that "tender and sad love" and craves for something more intense. I feel she may feel the relationship being a dull routine (leading into what Arlene had discussed about her identity to coincide with the narrative.)
With Bill, his identity is being a strong provider and a good husband in that he does have a strong love for his wife and child, however when Alice paints that vivid picture of her with the naval officer and in that cold and blunt way in which she verbalizes her thoughts; as mentioned in class..that it was this "accidental good wife choice" in that "if only he asked"....and she "would have given up "
everything". I feel that is such an intense statement coming from who he (Bill)thought...a wife that feels the same passion for him as he feels for her. They are on two different paths in terms of the vibe/feeling of how the relationship is constructed (needs and intention/ honestly and/or deception.)...more to come.

Dr. G said...

Anybody think less of Dr. Bill? Is his night out 'caused' by Alice? What is his role in the expansion of the story? I am asking you to start reading the handout I gave you... and now begin to talk about the story given versus the story constructed in the way the handout explains these concepts? What kinds of gaps in Alice's story does Bill fill in -- with his behavior and attitude -- and not just with his imagination in the 'blue movie' hallucination sequence? Why does Dr. Bill's face look so like a mask when Alice tells her first big story?

Arlene said...

I do think Alice caused Bill’s night out. Yet I think Bill is a character we are expected to feel sympathy for. He does love his wife. He is a good man and a good husband from the few details we are story-g, such as Christie points out. I agree with Christie’s reading of Bill and his love for Alice.

Although in the father department, he doesn’t seem like a totally involved father. we see her reading the bedtime story, Bill is just sitting there. If he is at home, an involved father, (even a doctor-father who sometimes makes house calls in the evening), would probably be the one reading the story. Alice has been with Helena all day! If it’s something they do together, then I think the involved dad would be cuddling the child as he read to her. When they leave to go out, he tousles the child’s hair. Helena asks her mother if she can watch the movie. Clearly, the mother is depicted almost primarily as the involved parent. There is a forced, almost artificial feel to the way these family scenes are depicted.

So I think the movie is trying to make a comment on the social roles. There is a lot of the traditional kind of relationship here – stay-at-home mom, working husband, perfect little obedient,subdued child.

If Alice is looking for work as she told the Hungarian, she’s not looking very hard. The story-g is that she is reading the paper while Helena eats breakfast, she is dressing with Alice in the bathroom, she is brushing her hair, wrapping presents.

There is almost a Father Knows Best or Leave it to Beaver quality about the way she comes into the living room after putting H. to bed. Bill was there but now in this scene he is sitting on the sofa, relaxing with the football game. He doesn’t want to wrap the presents when Alice asks him about it. He’s had a long day at the office. She’s had a long day with Helena. Very traditional. So this film is made in the 90’s, right? Even well-to-do upper-class married women have some kind of life. These story-g elements are here for a reason. So what’s the reason? Well, all this is just supporting the point I made about Alice’s identity.

Christie’s point about the look is extremely important for the narrative. It’s not voyeuristic, she’s looking at herself, I think, not the two of them together as Bill is making love to her.. It’s a narcissistic look, maybe. She’s obviously not “there” in that moment but imagining something, someone else. But I think she’s mostly looking at herself as she imagines another lover looking at her. Something like that.

Enough about Alice. I think I am having trouble talking about Bill because I can relate more to Alice. Anyway, to try to address Dr. G’s question about Bill filling in gaps in Alice’s story with his behavior and attitude. Bill is obviously disturbed. He’s walking aimlessly along city streets in Greenwich Village; he’s beating his fists in anger at the images in his head. The boys push past him. I have no clue what this element of the story-g is supposed to do? I wonder what the guys think?

His manhood is being questioned. This relates to Bill's sense of inadequacy as the "cuckholded husband. It's an oldfashioned word I hate but it refers to a man whose wife has cheated on him.

When he is having the encounter with Domino, he faces the wall as he talks with Alice. This is a story-g element. From this element, my story-c is that he feels guilty. He’s been almost “caught” and has to manage the situation, talking to Alice on the phone while standing in the prostitute’s room, by turning away from Domino on the bed so he doesn’t have to look at her as he speaks to Alice, there is obviously some reluctance on his part to proceed with the prostitute.

For the purposes of the story-g, we are to see how Alice’s call interrupts what most likely might have taken place b/w Domino and Bill (he still might have stopped himself, but we will not know that). He is awkwardly talking to Alice, saying it’s not a good time. The last time he spoke to Alice she had just told him her story, so some awkwardness and/or distance might be from that, too. She’s says she’s going to bed and he just says “OK, bye-bye.” This is a terse reply, not angry but not encouraging Alice. He probably doesn’t know how to talk to her. He is hurt and angry yet he doesn’t have sex with the prostitute.

Sky said...

After some thought, I think Alice deliberately meant to hurt Bill with the story of the naval officer. First bringing up that he's never jealous of her, then following that up with her story. Obviously Bill has some type of charisma; girls seem to flock to him; the two at the party; the girl who informed him of her lust/love for him. He never acted on those situations, as many men might have. Alice asked him if he had f@*cked the two at the party; but if she was so concerned with what he was doing, she didn't stop her convo and dance with Mr. Hungarian to go talk with her husband. She never attempted to find him after they were to meet at the bar. Alice seemed very engaged in the conversation while dancing at the party; so engaged I thought they were about to kiss each other. Most married folks would feel uncomfortable with that space when with a stranger. Also, someone mentioned something about that look Alice gives herself while her and Bill are intimate (which appears on the cover). What is that all about? Is she thinking about someone else? -silk

Lisa said...

The relationship between story and being is powerful and perpetual. Not only do we absorb our own life experiences, but other people’s narrative disclosures become a part of our self-constructed identities as well. The ability to think and feel through stories is what makes words and images so influential. The story that Alice told Bill set off a chain of events even though it was not actually a ‘lived’ story. Alice had not actually had an affair but her story affected Bill in a way that did not separate fact from fiction. The mind is a powerful thing and it will automatically fill in gaps of missing information whether intentionally cognitive or not. Try as he might, Bill could not stop thinking about the handsome naval officer (whom he did not actually even remember seeing) caressing and making love to his wife with complete abandon. It became an obsession that dictated his actions while he was trying to make sense of things. His life was suddenly split into two parts: before hearing Alice’s story and after hearing it.

The true power of this story rests not with the storyteller (Alice), the unfolding events that took place within the story (her affair) or the object of her desire (the naval officer). No, the real power here comes from Bill, the audience member who contextually reshapes the story in living color with vivid details. He eventually adds to and becomes part of the story since it inevitably melds with his own co-constructed reality. Although unseen, he plays a pivotal role in the story – the neglectful husband who drives Alice into the arms of another man. Bill feels her desire and sees their sweltering passion all while remaining a helpless voyeur on that fateful night in the dimly lit hotel room last summer while vacationing in the Hamptons...oh but wait! Bill keeps forgetting that it never actually happened. But does that really even matter? Wasn’t Alice’s story enough to suggest that it might as well have? The answer depends on who you are and what your own story is.

Dr. G said...

I guess my question is more about what the audience of Kubrick's film constructs as the story of Eyes Wide Shut: i.e. what questions are emplotted in the narrative of the overall film? So here, I would ask: is the film about Alice's indiscretion in speaking her mind or is the film about Bill's expectation that a marriage contract guaruntees affection and exclusive sexual access? I don't say this to disagree with anything that's been said so far... but to push everyone's attention out of the first act that we watched in class (i.e. the originating conflict), toward integrating the remaining 2/3rds of the film and the character 'arc' of the protagonist: Bill's wild night, the orgy scene and the 'response' of ALice's dream into the field of interpretation.

TLL said...

Alice's story has a profound effect on Bill as we can see through the duration of the film. While Alice explains the situation from last summer in Cape Cod, Bill remains still, stoic, and unflinching (his face like as mask itself).

However, it is important to note that initially Alice's story and Bill's feelings are not the elements that force him out of the house. The fact that the phone rings just as the story ends and Bill is compelled to make a house call makes for an important point to consider. It would be interesting to know how the conversation would have proceeded had Lou Nathanson not died at that moment. Would Bill have stayed there? Talked more? What else would Alice have said? Perhaps a clarification would have been able to take place in Bill's mind. Or perhaps it would have all been worse. Still the opportunity for further discussion of Alice's story was brought to an abrupt halt, as if instead of her detailing the Cap Cod account to him he was instead reading her diary and left to fill in the gaps on his own. Once Bill is on his way to the Nathanson home his imagination takes over and despite what Alice disclosed (her fantasy of an affair) for Bill, Alice's fantasy becomes a reality.

Although Alice stated that nothing actually happened between herself and the navel officer, for Bill it might as well have, as the effect is perhaps the same. As Bill states at the end of the movie, "No dream is ever just a dream." Here, I am reminded of an old children's saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Clearly, Alice's words have hurt Bill and shaken the foundation of their relationship. It is interesting to remember that when Szavost told Alice that, "one of the charms of marriage is that it makes deception a necessity for both parties" she did not deny this, but only laughed.

During each transition the new 'reality' is replayed over in Bill's head and he is unable to escape. While work may have forced Bill out of the house for the evening, certainly the incident with Alice kept him from eagerly returning home. Alice's story involve a sexual encounter with a stranger, much like what Bill passively begins to seek when he comes across Domino and also his eventual intrusion into the 'party'. What could make for a better stranger than a masked partner?

Still I am left with the lingering doubt that Bill would have done anything with any of the women who approached him (Gayle and Nuala at Zeigler's party, Marion, Domino, Mandy, the young masked woman at the party, Milich's daughter, Sally). Although he is continually interrupted before he can complete an act of indiscretion he does much of the giving up on his own. When he is with Domino and Alice calls he decides to bring their encounter to an end but clearly time is not the issue because he continues to stay out all night. He still has a strong bond to Alice and a guilty conscience. Alice's words and his imagination haunt him throughout the film.

Alice's dream also reflects some of the events of Bill's night. Again we do not get a glimpse into what transpires after as the scene cuts to the next morning. While Alice most likely has a deep love for Bill (which she expresses as tender and sad) she may also feel their relationship lacks passion, thus her fantasies about the navel officer and her dream. Her final lines in the film may be a plea to regain that passion for each other that both of them have lost sight of through their dreams and fantasies.

When Bill talks to Zeigler about the party the night before, Zeigler's story casts doubt into Bill's mind that things were as traumatic as they seemed. He explains that the evening was typical and that the woman who had tried to help Bill was actually Mandy, the prostitute who had OD'd in Zeigler's bathroom the night of his party. He uses Bill's own words to remind him, "it was always just gonna be a matter of time with her. Remember, you told her yourself."

Another note of interest concerning Zeigler (and Bill) is the contrast of the parties he attends. At one gathering the guests wear their public costumes and masks of tuxedos and evening gowns and the other they wear cloaks and actual masks. The guests at the first party engage in social party rituals of dancing, socializing and drinking while at the second the rituals are esoteric in nature. It may also be safe to assume that a number of the guests at the first party were also present at the second, besides Zeigler, Bill, Nick, and Mandy.

anuenue said...

Wow. I feel like everyone has contributed some great and interesting points to the discussion. I'm not sure if this is coming from left field, but I always felt that Bill's "night on the town" was his way of testing the waters. Spawned from Alice's vivid and sensual description of the encounter at Cape Cod the summer prior, I don't think it would be difficult for anyone (male or female) to fill in the details. There are so many different levels the human brain goes through when issues of cheating and deception arise: were they more attractive than me? What do they have that I don't? etc etc etc

Bill is imagining his intimate relations with Alice and replacing himself with a young naval officer and thus making the fantasy of his wife and another man much more vivid. I enjoyed reading other comments about the debate of "what if"; like what if Alice had not called when he was with Domino? But instead I draw my focus to the idea of "dancing with desire". Many of you commented that her words might as well been the same as cheating, which is why I believe that Bill finds himself in these "almost" predicaments.

It seems the fantasy of Alice and the naval officer drive Bill into situations where he could easily cheat on his wife but doesn't-- just like Alice was ready to "give up everything". I back this notion that he was evening up the score by Bill's actions when he returns home and finds the mask he wore to the orgy laying beside Alice; he begins to sob and says, "I'll tell you everything. I'll tell you everything." In a sort of regeneration through chaos motif, Bill chooses to "dance utterly close with desire" for several reasons. First and foremost I feel he does this to even the score; to get as close to losing everything without giving it up (like Alice) and also because they are now on the same page. Bill's actions have now placed him in Alice's perception to be the same as Bill's perception of Alice when she told him about the naval officer. As for the regeneration through chaos theory I have applied, I feel it works for this situation because both characters come out of the situation realizing that something different (new) needs to be done in their relationship.

Also, the element of Alice's dream and its proximity to Bill's reality created a sort of intangible connection and closeness that married couples are expected to have. Although in this situation the connection is negative, I'd have to say that for myself, I found it to be a sort of reminder of that connection and why they were married in the first place (or maybe I'm just a romantic thinker)¬

carmenindalecio said...

Aloha Everyone!

Carmen here,

The movie introduces us into the movie by giving equal screen time to both characters, Bill and Alice. The audience is introduced to its main character Bill when we see him enter his office. From this point forward the camera perspective gives us Bill's point of view. So much so that the audience shares his mental images as well as is just as "in the dark" as he is throughout. This is the story given to us.

Winding the audience through a real accidental fantasy in Bill's shoes, lets the audience understand that everything happened in a very logical matter. To sum it up quickly would make the story seem unbelievable. He was hit on by a woman who's father just died. Almost slept with a hooker who had AIDS, and went to a strippers ball. Unbelievable as it sounds the story given is believable to the audience as the director lays out each scene of the movie.

The movie begins with a confession from Alice only to be bluntly concluded with a suggestion of how to fix the problem that occured in between. All throughout we see a mixture of reality and fantasy. The two characters are married, they have a commitment to one another and both have faced temptation, some in the flesh some within the mind. What is worse? The movie helps provide a story that is given (story g), that helps encourage a constructed story (story c) from the audience as to the importance of these events and complexity as to how the human mind can leap from words to images and images to emotions.

D.L. said...

My take on the title Eyes Wide Shut is that it is a reference to Bill's perception of his life. He appears to be very pleased with how things are. He has a beautiful wife, home, kids, and the respect that goes with being a doctor. But to us it is apparent from the get go that Alice isn't pleased with her life as a housewife. She drinks heavily at the party, tells her dance partner of her failed career as an art house manager, and appears listless when Bill attempts to make love to her staring blankly into the distance. Her narrative effectively opens Bill's eyes to Alice's dismay. It is a very disturbing story she tells. To know that you have been cheated on, or that your spouse would throw away everything without a second thought could drive someone to the edge. The power of her narrative inspires jealousy and a sick obsession in Bill to seek revenge. Because she has been unfaithful in his mind he is given license to go wild.

janueri said...

Great comments everyone!
I agree with Sky's 2nd comment, I think that Alice told Bill the story of the naval officer to deliberately hurt him. Maybe her interpretation of true love consists of jealously in a relationship which is why she was so upset that Bill was not bothered by her dancing with Mr. Hungarian. Bill's interpretation of love is a relationship that consists of trust and honestly which is why the thought of Alice cheating on him didn't ever cross his mind. With that being said, Bill is left in complete shock after hearing of Alice's fantasy with the naval officer.
On the other hand, maybe Alice chose to tell the naval officer story to Bill because of the guilt that she felt for having those feelings. Maybe she does believe that love is about honesty and she told the story because she wanted to come "clean." Although, I don't really agree with that because the movie did end with Alice saying that she and Bill needed to f#@! as a way of moving forward. With that in mind, I don't think that most audiences would agree that Alice told her story in order to clear her conscience.
I know this is just a movie, but how many of you think that someone would really tell their spouse that they've had fantasies about cheating, but never actually cheated? Unless they wanted a divorce? I'm not married so that's why I'm wondering...

TLL said...

I know it might feel good to beat up on Bill for not being an involved husband or father but I think those cues are more of a red herring when considering this film. The movie is a glimpse into a four day period of the lives of these people. The first day starts in the evening before they attend a party, Helena is left with the babysitter so we can nock the day count down to three. The next day Bill works a full day and spends some time in the evening with his family before "the story." He is obviously out for the rest of the night and its safe to assume that if he was home Helena would be sleeping. The third day is again a day of work and then being out at night and finally on the fourth day (morning) the parents take Helena shopping. I don't know if this glimpse into a period of time of around 60 hours (probably less) is enough to declare Bill's relationship with his family uninvolved or Leave it to Beaver-esque as suggested by arlene and lisa. Is it always the case that one partner must 'drive' the other 'away'? Can these events not happen on their own? Perhaps even when two people are in love and committed they still feel like straying. Could the film be attacking our inherent institutions of coupledom and domesticity? Obviously I don't have the answer but I throw it out there anyway.

Cristie's observation about the 'look' is interesting and it does seem that Alice has a level of disinterest in that scene. This may manifest itself later through her story and her dream. Perhaps even her dissatisfaction with her marriage as a whole. Although we spend most of the movie observing Bill's feelings of jealousy, we definitely get a glimpse into Alice's jealousy when they are talking in the bedroom. Perhaps she is eager to make him jealous and deliberately hurt him as Sky suggested.

I think anuenue's observation that "Bill's reality created a sort of intangible connection and closeness that married couples are supposed to have" is an interesting way of approaching the dream sequence. Since much of the movie has a the feel of a dream (I find much of the 'foggy' lighting at the party and the bars reminiscent of dream sequences in other films) and plays with the ideas of sleeping and waking and reality and fantasy I am somewhat at a loss for a solid interpretation of Alice's dream.

Jackbenimble said...

As there are only a few guys in our class, I think it is only right for me to stress the guys point of view in dealing with narration and reality. The story Alice told Bill, and the reaction we as an audience viewed from Bill seems like a fair assessment of how a guy may have reacted in reality. I remember distinctly the 'rage' if I may say in Bill's eyes as Alice was telling her story of the Naval captain and their occurence in Cape Cod. Bill's eyes seemed to be filled with such jealousy, rage and maybe even disappointment in what Alice was telling him. He reacted much the way I think most males in reality would have, simply not over-reacting among the party or person who was telling the story. Instead, he does keep himself quiet and takes those emotions out with him on the particular night, which almost leads to his unfaithfulness from Alice.

Ha'a said...

My first thoughts after watching the movie was that it deplicted american society in their values of family. I thought of it as mocking traditional values of what a family should be like but at the same time also mocking modern values. The husband who works hard makes money, etc., etc. and the wife who stays home and raises the child and is faithful to her husband to me showed the traditional. For Bill to not even think that his wife would even fantisize about another man. On the other hand it critizes the modern lifestyle because the wife was not successful in her occupation. My last thought about the ending of the film was that Bill and Alice's relationship would never be the same again but if they are to move forward they have to just let everything go. Having sex or "fucking" to me was a way of saying let's just move on and get over it. Otherwise the drama would continue and never end.

Arlene said...

Anuenue’s point that Bill was trying to even the score makes sense but I don’t think Bill would in the end stop at just flirting with temptation. Through the events of the evening Bill has had a wild adventure. I’m not a man so I don’t know for sure but from things I’ve heard…his adventure had lots of elements that appeal to many men’s fantasies: sex without attachments, lot’s of visual stimulation (naked women all over the place), orgy scenes, what else? Notice how this contrasts to Alice’s story. In her fantasy, it’s just one man, just glances exchanged, just one handsome guy, fully clothed, probably, in a military uniform. Bill’s the one that has them on the bed. It seems to me her fantasy was about giving up her family and escaping with someone whom she knew nothing about. It’s more like a romantic fantasy, not a sexual one…It’s also psychological, it’s about her “stuff,” someone “rescuing” her. In her fantasy she is passive, while Bill does take active steps to keep his adventure going (lot’s of gender stereotypes in here) once he learns about the mysterious masked ball.

Bill’s night out I guess might be equivalent to hers in that he seeks out these situations where he comes perilously close to temptation. Alice was obviously “seeking” something as well with her mental adventure, although in reality she did nothing to make it happen and was just waiting to see if the office would be there. Is it possible Bill does hold himself back if his intention was to have pretty much the same experience as Alice, just even the score? To go so far and no further? No, I think there is some similarity between their experiences after all: she is only accidentally monogamous, at least in her own mind, and so is he. Yes, maybe with Domino, he leaves, but as TLL said, he did not go home. At the masked orgy, he really wanted to go off with the woman. The possibility that he would not go ahead does not ring true. I think such a level of restraint, given his state of mind and the gorgeous woman would be unlikely. The reality is that we never see him exercise that restraint. He is helped a long by each point in the plot. She will not go off with him. She keeps trying to get him to understand he needs to get out of there. If Bill is a kind of honorable man who would not go all the way, why don’t we see him making the decision at any of the points along the way? Why is it necessary for him to be prevented by things that occur or other people? The purpose behind it may be to show that he is also only accidentally monogamous.

He realizes this and that’s why he sobs and comes clean. He can’t judge Alice so harshly (this will go a long towards him “forgiving” her and learning to live with her revelation). He knows he has been sorely tempted to cheat and if things had gone differently he would have. Now I guess the question is, if Alice hadn’t started this ball rolling, Bill would not have been in that state of mind and maybe he would not have sought out any of these situations?

I’m not really sure about Alice’s dream. It does seem that she is holding onto some negative feelings about Bill. First, she is mad at him because they are in the situation in the dream “I was angry because I felt it was your fault”[that they were naked in the city]. Then, she seems to be saying once he’s out of the scene everything is wonderful, like he is holding her back. I think this is part of her fantasy to be free of him (both marriage and Bill). Then she is free to make love with the officer and even with lots of other men. I think the officer laughs at her because in her mind she is really unsure if she would have gone ahead had he been there the next day, despite all her ruminations about him since then. Or he might be laughing, because in her mind she knows she made a mountain out of a mole hill (of a look). Notice how we have all supplied this, or at least I did—it’s not in the story-g at all that she has ruminated about him all year.

His laughter is a way of her own mind goading her to see if she really had it in her to be unfaithful after all. And then yes, she is capable of being with lots of men and of rubbing it in Bill’s face “I wanted to make fun of you, to laugh in your face.” Well, at least in the dream.

I think it must be significant that neither Alice nor Bill was truly tested in the sense that they had the opportunity to do the right thing, to remain faithful, in a moment when it really counted. We are being led to think that Bill is just human, his state of mind excuses his behavior, and he is truly remorseful at the end because he knows he would have cheated but at least he feels bad about it. Alice, on the other hand, shows no remorse.

Maybe the film is making the point the Hungarian states at the beginning "one of the charms of marriage is that it makes deception a necessity for both parties." Men for their part have to act as if the sight of other women doesn’t turn them on and women have to act like their husband fulfills all their desires.

cristie said...

Just wanted to throw all of this out there..(been on the brain)... let me start by saying, the film is really anything you want it to be....so many interpretative avenues; twists and turns. The reason why I say this is because most who watch the movie are thrown off by the sex, by the time they are "back to focusing on the issues that are beyond sex", the movie is over.. So with that said, I believe the thriller point of the story lies in the massive cult. Sex happens to be the original source of money, status, and desire. Power=money . In other words, the truly scary point of this movie is when Bill has to face the realization that he is about to be unmasked. To make matters worse from this point he is being unmasked by powerful figures. Powerful in the sense that this party was a facade, not in the sense that it was all an act for Bill but...we must keep in mind who is behind those masks (lawyers, judges, business owners, very high=power individuals as again..money talks....money more than often equals power. And there is Bill confronted with all this insurmountable problems with no help in site. When the man in red speaks what his intentions and anger....makes me pause and think about the whole story and Alice's so called dream and Mandy's so-called overdose. Could it be that just maybe Bill accidentally left his mask there and the Hungarian man (who was of high power) had invited her to this cult event. Ok, let's start here by saying that the man in the red could very well be the man that Alice danced with at the opening party, (the Hungarian man) 1.the man gets more mad when he feels out who is under the mask. 2. he wants what Bill has, his wife. - he wants to make matters worse by trying to make him remove his clothes.
Could it be that Mandy was in fact really killed at the party (again, money talks ...meaning covers situations up)and could it really be that Alice's dream is really a dream?? I feel that the movie based upon the narrative, leaves mysterious doubts about the storyline in which to question and ponder.

Arlene said...

Christie: you make some very interesting points. I have thought that Ziegler’s story, trying to reframe the events of the evening to alleviate Bill’s suspicions, did not ring true. I remember thinking Alice may have been at the party, especially because of her dream which is just too coincidental. And there is the possibility that the Hungarian somehow got her there. But I don't think the Hungarian is the red robed, most powerful guy.

Most interesting are your points about the power. When Bill is told to take off not only his mask but his clothes, we kind of squirm thinking “oh, hell no!” That universal dream symbol of being in public with no clothes, we’ve all dreamed that. You feel defenseless, powerless, also, of course extremely exposed. Bill will be exposed as crashing the party.

In the context of the film, the orgy scene shows how women are sexual objects. The nudity puts the women in a powerless role, not to mention the fact that they are models/prostitutes, call girls, whatever. All the powerful men have their clothes on. There are a few masked/robed women and presumably homosexual individuals with their respective male or female, naked partners in the orgy scenes. So there may have been a few powerful women there. But the circle of women at the beginning focuses our attention on the naked women. Talk about a long scene--the camera pans slowly around the circle, showing us all the women.

The tension in the scene where Bill is confronted comes because we know, he knows, he doesn’t belong there. He thinks that by wearing a mask, he just blends right in. He is extremely naïve then. As Ziegler said, he came in a taxi!

The story-c is that we can imagine that one or other of the butlers has informed the powerful red robed guy and off camera he has collected all the robed other guys from their evening entertainment. They all convene ready to confront Bill.

Christie has a good point that all the focus on the sex and Bill and Alice’s relationship does detract us from some very important things going on at the end. The powerful men have threatened Bill: the red robed guy’s threats to Bill and his family, forcing him to unmask and unrobe, stripping him of the black robe of power, therefore to clearly expose him as one of the powerless ones and also to humiliate him, the letter the guy at Somerton pushes through the gate, the stalker, Nick’s bruised face and forced check-out at the hotel accompanied by scary men. And of course, Mandy’s “death by OD” is extremely coincidental.

So, back to Ziegler who is coming across as too nice and too nervous to be the red robed guy. So he is further down on the hierarchy of power and obviously has been tasked to be the “clean up” guy. He’s not exuding power but instead is using his connection to Bill to reframe the events. With this, plus all the sinister threats and events, Bill gets the message that he would do well to forget the whole thing ever happened—Mandy’s death, crashing the orgy, etc. He is not powerful enough to fight this powerful, organized cult.

His lack of power is almost pathetic when he flashes his medical card as he goes about trying to track down Nick and Mandy. This gives him entrée into his own working man’s world. But in the end Bill is ineffectual against the powerful robed men.

Bill has been through an emotional roller coaster. Maybe the sobbing at the end is more than a little bit because of this scary episode which, when we put ourselves in Bill’s place, would definitely almost overshadow any guilt he may feel about his almost unfaithfulness. But the blue movie keeps replaying in his head though so all these events haven't overshadowed that.

TLL said...

I can't help but find the sentiment that Alice's fantasy about the navel officer was, "a romantic fantasy, not a sexual one" laughable. After all her very words were, "If he wanted me, even if it was only for one night, I was ready to give up everything." Her desire is extremely sexual, harsh, and deliberate. After all, later in her dream she bring up the navel officer again, clearly a sexual fantasy is still on her mind. She states that the navel officer "was kissing me, and then ... then we were making love. Then there were all these other people around us ... hundreds of them, everywhere. Everyone was fucking, and then I ... I was fucking other men, so many." How romantic indeed. I doubt very much that any of the interactions Bill and Alice have, whether in their dreams, fantasies, or reality have much to do with romance.

When Alice states at the retelling of her dream that she "Wanted to make fun of you [Bill], to laugh in your face" it wasn't just in the dream, their last interaction included her making fun of Bill and laughing in his face.

Cristie's hypothesis that the man in the red cloak was actually Szavost is an interesting one that I had not considered before. Not sure if I agree but it's something to think about.

I also agree with Alene's statement about Ziegler being the 'clean up' guy. Bill may also recognize that as well, perhaps acknowledging that he is being given and easy out. If he accepts Ziegler's account the episode can end and he can go back to his 'normal' life. He he rejects Ziegler's account his family may be in danger. Whether he actually believes the story or not is up in the air.

Jackbenimble said...

In conjunction with a comment Lisa made, I agree Bill's life for the sake of this movie's screen time and story given time is separated into two halves, before Alice's story and after. Bill seemed to lose his confidence and composure as an assuring male character and seemed a bit desperate after the story was told to him. Bill could not shake the visions within his imagination that sculpted a sex scene between Alice and the naval officer, and this mental torment seemed to put Bill in a trance as he made his way through all of the predictaments he experienced that evening.
In regard to Dr.G's comment I do not see how the story would be about Bill's expectations of a marriage contract guaranteeing affection and exclusive sexual access. Understanding he was motivated to be tempted sexually by Alice's story, before that he was nearly tempted to disrupt that sacred marriage contract with two models at the opening party. As Alice did not act on her urges which many people have deemed the urges just as bad as cheating, Bill does the same before and after the story. Without that interruption from Ziegler's assistant I'm pretty confident in my mind that he was to be swayed sexually by the two models. Bill seems to have the same staginant feelings about their marriage, it's only because Alice was the first of the two to air her opinion about sexual temptation that Bill's reaction takes the story in the direction that it does. What if Bill was to talk about his temptation to have a three-some with those models or any one(or two) other women he may have flirted with in the past. If you were to tell me Bill did not let his sexual imagination run a bit when thinking about other woman, it would be hard for me to agree.
In response to tll Alice did laugh in Bill's face in their last interaction. This discription of humility seems to have a startling affect on Bill. Alice hits Bill where he is most vulnerable, his ego. No one likes to made to look like a fool, and Alice's 'laughing' comment whether she intended to or not severely riled Bill's easy-going confidence, as seen before the comment. It's a low blow by Alice because those comments aren't going to be any helpful in resolving whatever problems she has with herself and her marriage, they will and do, only lead to more complications.

anuenue said...

I really enjoyed Trevor’s observation of Bill’s character traits as more of a red herring. I don’t think it is as important to identify what kind of person Bill and Alice are as it is to identify the difference between Bill’s PHYSICAL sexual encounters and Alice’s MENTAL sexual encounters and how the two are intertwined and the role they play in how it affects the other.

I know Arlene finds my point illogical, but I feel she missed my point. Bill did in a way justify/even the score. Did Alice actually sleep with the naval officer? NO. Did Bill actually sleep with any of the women that he had an opportunity to? NO. My point was to say that by Bill coming as close to infidelity but yet still not crossing the line works as a sort of justification from Alice’s past actions. I further think this is supported in the end as Bill breaks down and OFFERS to tell everything to Alice—just as Alice did at the beginning of the movie. I feel that he cries because he empathizes now with Alice because he knows exactly what it feels like (he knows she will be hurt like he was when she told him about the naval officer).

Carmen, I liked your small summary comment. The story is very unbelievable, yet Kubrick pans it out in such a way the viewer is pulled into the movie and understands why everything is going as it is and pans out to be very believable. The human mind is so perplex and complicated it is VERY easy to leap from words to images and images to emotions. Ironically our brain functions logically, yet so many factors contribute to our brain reasoning with our emotions illogically. I enjoy the recognition in the film that sometimes images are just as bad as actions.

Lisa said...

As Arlene mentioned, the film provides many cues to signify the concrete social roles of Bill and Alice. Whether Bill is indeed an uninvolved father or whether Alice is truly seeking employment is inconsequential since neither one finds fault with the other regarding these matters. Each seems content to play the familial function within their household: dad provides and mom nurtures. Their day-to-day activities appear serene, natural, and very comfortable. It seems to be enough. But as we go deeper, we find a woman who resists the tidy package that her husband has fitted her into. She resists his claims that she is a “good girl” because it implies a lack of complexity. Telling him her fantasy was Alice’s way of saying, “you think you know me so well but you don’t know me at all.” I suspect that many couples like Bill and Alice experience major hurdles that stem from one person’s identity crisis. Alice’s “narcissistic look” is compelling because we wonder what she is thinking and are never given the satisfaction of knowing.

Hearing Alice’s fantasy signifies the starting point of Bill’s journey. Up until that point, we are given some background information of this character. He apparently branched out from humble beginnings and went on to become a successful doctor. He is affable and obliging, the kind of person most people would consider fortunate to have as a friend. But what lies below the surface of this common everyman? Bill’s wild night out seems to be a self-exploration not of his sexuality or promiscuousness, but of his psycho-social ranking in society. We watch as he characterizes men like Ziegler, Szavost and Milich so that he can compare himself with them. It’s as if Bill is in the process of writing his own story by using other stories as reference guides. Does he want to end up an adulterer like Ziegler, alone like Szavost or a sleazy single parent like Milich? He may be in a state of anger, jealousy, and frustration but he is also fully aware that his actions will generate consequences.

Sky said...

I think this story/movie leaves us pondering about the couple's relationship due to the fact that we are suddenly thrown into their lives at such an odd time; a time when they're attending a party; Alice is looking for a job, some woman suddenly has some longtime love for the doc, etc. Not your typically setup for a movie. This allows for us to imagine/theorize what each character believes/thinks, whatever...

The story allows for us to create a story within our own minds, just as Bill did while listening to Alice's tale of her lust for a man. I think with a little more background (Bill, Alice, her career situation, their relationship, etc), we might be able to better understand why each character decided to behave in the manner in which they did.

Maybe they get high entirely too much and falsify information/situations. Maybe they had some difficulties early in their relationship/marriage. I think the author intended the movie to be set up in this fashion so that we could ponder, try to figure out what the hell is actually going on in the minds of the couple.

The simple fact to me is that I don't think we can come to any final conclusions, just because we don't have enough evidence/background to support anything. Again, I feel the author wants this reaction from the audience; a feeling of confusion; a feeling of wanting to watch the movie over to try to catch something. But I think his overall goal was accomplished....it allowed the audience to create the missing gaps of the story in their own minds. And everyone has different ideas as to what went on in the story. My two cents. sky.

Sky said...

Carmen mentioned..."The two characters are married, they have a commitment to one another and both have faced temptation, some in the flesh some within the mind. What is worse?

I think that's a great question. Which is worse? Well, I think that they are both hurtful. I think that Alice was hurt by Bill's night out once he told her...but I also believe Bill was hurt after hearing Alice's story, although it never even happened.

I think the manner in which the story is told has a great deal of influence on an individual. When Alice painted the fantasy of her an the fellow, it seemed cold and chilling, as though it really happened; and she didn't seem sorry for having that fantasy or feelings, even a year later. She made it seem like it would have certainly happened if the male would have pursued her. And obviously it was still on her mind if she suddenly brought it up in that fashion.

Now when Bill tells his story to Alice at the end (we don't get to see him actually tell it), he starts it off by sobbing in tears and releasing his emotions; two totally different talkin story sessions.

This brings me back to my first statement in that a story has more backbone, more power, more emotion depending on how you tell it. Obviously, Alice got the sense that Bill was truly sorry for his venture out because we woke her up crying by her side. I don't think Bill go that sense while Alice told hers, I didn't either.

Moonprincess said...

Hi all,
I know I'm coming in late with my comments but I really enjoyed reading everyone else's ideas.

The power of a story can be seen very clearly in this film. Though Alice's sexual fantasy was all in her mind, the effect it had on her husband was profound. Bill's adventure into the sexual strange seems to be an exaggerated reaction to something that didn't even happen but this is where we see the power of a story. The story is now imprinted in Bill's mind and the story begins to take life in Bill's mind. His mind begins to play scenes of Alice with the naval officer thus making the fantasy more real in Bill's mind.

I think it is the realism of the story in Bill's mind that causes him to consider retaliation, though I do agree with tll's comment on the phone call possibly being the cause of Bill going out in the first place. Bill's night out can be seen as a straightforward attempt on his part to find a way to hurt Alice as much as her fantasy has hurt him. Bill's quest leads to questions about relationships and what the expectations of a relationship are. Alice's confession is the honesty a person expects when in a relationship but we have to ask whether her honesty is from honest intentions or from an ulterior motive. As to her motives, a few people have touched on this, it could be she is trying to add something more to the marriage, she may be feeling Bill is not passionate enough in his desire for her, lack of jealousy, or she is purposely trying to ruin the marriage.

Alice could be using this fantasy to question both her identity in the relationship and Bill's identity, for it is only after hearing Alice's fantasy that he thinks about the world around him. It is when he begins to question the world around him that he encounters a world that exist in conjunction with his own but one he had been unaware of before.

I think as the night continues and the more Bill sees the more he thinks about the life he had been living. I agree with Sky in his statement that any other man in Bill's situation would have ended up in a strip club. Instead of just going to a strip club Bill and fantasizing about another woman, he takes it a step further and halfheartedly tries to find a way to hurt Alice, and why does he do this? He goes this step because by this time Alice's story is more reality to him than fantasy. Lisa, I think you are right in saying the story became an obsession that dictated his actions.

This obsession leaves Bill open to sexual advances that he may not have noticed before thus his encounter with Domino. When asked what he wanted to do, Bill responded "What do you recommend," after and unsure and awkward silence. After this small taste of sexual exploration outside of his marriage, Bill seeks more, maybe in a search to understand why Alice would fantasize about another man.

Another way to interpret everything that went on in the film to to consider the scene of Bill's and Alice's embrace in front of the mirror. The embrace is erotic but during the embrace Alice gazes into the mirror twice... the events in the film are just reflections of the underlying fantasies of both characters.

The film ends with Bill back at home with Alice where we hear Alice's dream which seems almost a reflection of Bill's night out and in the words of Ziegler, "Life goes on, it always does. Until it doesn't. But you know that, don't you?"

carmenindalecio said...

Could it be that this is a movie about gender and power? As most of you may know I tend to revolve most of my work around gender identity and the power struggles between or within the two. Here within the story we are given a very feminine female and a very masculine male as plot driven characters. The story given to us, we have all disected and reasoned with as to how it happened, what caused what, and who is out to hurt who. It is the story constructed within most of our responses that I think signify the constructed stories that we have derived based on our understanding of what it means to me a woman and what it means to be a man.

Many of the comments tend to justify why Bill would allow such temptations almost get the best of him. Why doesn't he just go home! Is he trying to seek revenge? Did Alice attempt to make Bill jealous? These questions, to me, show that we assume that these are probable reactions for a man or a woman. Since they are probable within our minds then perhaps our society engraves into us that in these situations the genders would act accordingly and throughout the movie we anticipate such and in some scenes, the director has slapped us with the unforseen twist of plot.

I took into consideration Cristie's comment about Bill's strip of power at the strippers ball. While all other men are clothed including their faces, to show their power, Bill must strip to nude, just as the women are. Is he as worthless and disposable as they are?

Sky points out the different deliveries of Alice and Bill's confession. Alice doesn't cry, but Bill does. Alice's whole story is heard by the audience, we don't get to hear Bill's delivery. Is it because we already know, or is this a point made by the director to showcase that normally women are submissive and quiety but only her story is heard? Yet another slap?

Anuenue observes and concludes that Bill cries because now he is empathetic toward Alice. I think he cries for himself, unable to handle a live accidental fantasy. He gives it up so easily, without inquiries from Alice, whereas Alice held her fantasy within for a year.

My point is that maybe this is a question or challenge as to who is really stronger in a realationship. It shatters the normal expectations that men are emotionless and women are too emotional. It shatters power structures and beats us left to right with conficting ideas that are embedded within our socially constructed mentality.

Ciao!

Ha'a said...

Wow so much has been said I’m not really sure where to begin.

Like the majority of the class I also think that Bill does make his wife’s fantasy come true in his own mind. It may be because he is hurt, it may also be so that he doesn’t feel guilty about going out and doing something in return. It’s just like saying well I thought you were cheating on me so I cheated on you only to find out that you really didn’t cheat on me. Difference is that he knew it wasn’t really real. I think in a way maybe he wanted it to be real so he could have sex with someone himself and not feel bad about it. At the end when he confesses and is crying I think he finally realizes that it’s his own fault that he allowed himself to get out of control only by something in his head. Now weather or not his wife is guilty of cheating just for thinking about it is up to the audience and what each person’s beliefs are. If you are the “it’s ok to look but not touch” kind of person than you might think that Bill is just lost it. On the other hand it you believe that just thinking about doing something is just as bad as actually doing it they you as an audience member would place more of a blame on Alice.

I think that the writer/director knew the audience could go both ways and allows for very different interpretations as is evident in these discussions. I agree with Christe that this story is whatever you want it to be and it’s all based on our preconceived notions and we connect with the story with what I’ve just learned is “narrative fidelity”. Lastly in talking about stories and narratives and trying to relate it to our handout; I agree with Sky in that the audience is left to fill in the blanks or “missing gaps” throughout the movie. So not only is the audience allowed to “construct” (or story construction) certain scenes such as Bill telling Alice about his adventures. We then as an audience as does Bill in his character make up understanding in our mind referred to as diegesis.

D.L. said...

I was watching Fraser tonight, it's probably the smartest show on television, and it reminded me of the recent SAG awards. In an act of obligatory obituary highlights reel during the program, the picture of the father from Fraser flashed before my eyes. It was sad because he seemed like such a down to earth, likable fellow in the context of the program. None-the-less it just extenuates the fragile nature of human existence.
As far as Bill and Alice go, I grow weary of the analysis. I agree with Jackbenimble's take that the nature of human desire is grounded in lust and perpetual jealousy. I also agree with Sky's observation that that Bill is following in a pattern of behavior that is probably identifiable in many male youths that have experienced similar phenomenon.
The male and the female mind operate on varying wavelengths at most times. The adage about men being from one sport and women being from another holds water on most accords.

Lisa said...

The first act of the film is full of expository images that offer story given while the rest of the film concentrates on the story constructed. If we were to agree that Bill’s night out was ‘caused’ by Alice, we can then question whether he caused her to tell him about her fantasy in the first place. Yes, she was high at the time and it was more of a declaration than a confession but she was trying to make a point that seemed to be focused more inward than outward. Alice’s fantasy held a creative power that went beyond mere desire since she would have given up everything for a complete stranger. This strengthens the notion of story constructed because we are suddenly faced with making judgments about these people. Is Alice foolish? Ungrateful? Or is she a victim because Bill takes her for granted and makes her feel undesirable? These are the questions that propel us forward into the rest of the film.

Like Carmen, I also find it interesting how the human mind can leap from words to images and images to emotions. I suspect this is what attracted Kubrick to this story in the first place. The film explores sex, power, and desire as a lot of films do but this story takes place from a unique point of view in that it seeks to retain neutrality. While some may not view Bill as the ideal husband or father of the year, he is far from being neglectful or abusive. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? That depends on how you choose to assemble the story constructed.

I agree with Haa when she says the film mocks traditional values of what a family should be like but at the same time also mocks modern values. Bill’s early portrait symbolized an arrogance that needed to be ‘taken down’ so that we could relate to him on a human level. Alice’s fantasy illustrated the act of sex as a weapon of choice and it disarmed Bill in a way that nothing else could. He was shaken to his core and was able to reassess the nature of sexual intimacy. In the end, Bill’s tears symbolized a purging of his old thoughts just as Alice’s vulgar reference acknowledged the ability to detach from intimacy. The dialogue that takes place during the final moments of the film is the most intriguing. When Bill offers his eternal love, Alice is appreciative but realistic. Perhaps she has Szavost’s words ringing in her ear when she refuses to pledge eternity.

Dr. G said...

Thank you all for participating. My goal in remaining a more or less silent reader, is that I would like to let you feel the weight of the story as something that causes more narrative to happen. I don't want my role right now to be that of correcting your perceptions. It is clear though, that the very process of interpretation requires building new narratives of your own to understand the original story.

Does this mean that there is no limit to the number of perspectives that can be taken on EWS? I doubt it. I think we can safely classify most narrative responses and use our classifications to narrow down the actual range of possible perceptions. For example, lets try to use Walter Fisher's two criteria, of narrative fidelity and narrative cohesion.

Some of you are very focused on narrative fidelity... you want to interpret the story by comparing it to things you know about men and women (gender) or to things you know about other stories of this 'type' (i.e. romance stories, soap opera stories, pornographic male adventure stories etc.)

Others of you focus on narrative cohesion, on how to make the story 'realistic' in a way that makes all the pieces fit together in a way that does not disturb your sense of reality.

And this is fine for this exercise... there was some very detailed analysis along these lines. But let me add a criteria to Fisher's for us to use in thinking more about EWS as we read the novel it is based on. Lets try and think about Narrative Evocativeness. What gives the story of EWS its power to convey messages, make statements and challenge perceptions? Evocation is not about how the story compares to reality, it is not about what makes the story elements fit together. An evocative story stimulates thinking about a subject or topic by combining inconguities, staging mysteries, mixing and creating new metaphors, and in doing so, overwhelming and exhausting our normal orientation toward reality...

In a sense you could say that a deeply evocative story violates the rules of both narrative fidelity and narrative cohesion. Perhaps Fisher's criteria are better applied to everyday stories, and when we look at deeply imaginative, aesthetically crafted and mythically significant tales, we need to think more deeply about the story as a construction.

Lets look at Dream Story, and as we see the names changed and some of the story reordered and changed... lets keep in mind that the story is a purely fictonal creation. That Schnitzler (and Kubrick) are perhaps telling their stories to say something about certain topics, to make statements, to conduct critique or to challenge conventions -- rather than to be 'realistic' and confirm what 'common sense' says is true. Try to remember that Alice/Albertine is not a real woman. She is a puppet in an artificial drama who represents certain things. Bill/Fridolin the same. Why does the puppeteer play with them the way he does, what is being staged? shown? stated? meant? by how the story is constructed by the novelist/filmaker?

Why does the drama involve a course of events that leads to a secret erotic society? Why does this course of events originate in a scuffle over marital jealosy? Why does Schnitzler's basic dramatic template call for the wife to have a dream where she 'sees' something very similar to the erotic ball her husband has seen -- but in which she plays a major role as one of the sexual objects at the orgy?

As Patricia Arquette's character asks in David Lynch's LOST HIGHWAY: "Why?"