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56 ChapterThree PLOT CONSTRUCTION A Chaotic Geometry The unrelated sequences which characterize the plot construction of Kubrick’s adaptations are, on the one hand, inserted in symmetrical syuzhet structures, in which the end mirrors the beginning, as in A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, and Eyes Wide Shut, and/or in plots strongly ordered into parts, as in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barry Lyndon, and Full Metal Jacket. The symmetry of the syuzhet structure is often emphasized by scenes that evoke one another through the mise-en-scène and montage. The geometry of the plot construction is usually evoked by superbly composed images, in which the mise-en-scène constitutes a particular order and/or symmetry. On the other hand, this geometry is disrupted by a play of cross-references among sequences and shots. The spectators try to fill in the ellipses and to solve the enigmas, associating those scenes and images that evoke other sequences and shots through stylistic choices. But the gaps and the mysteries remain unexplained. This subterranean aesthetic play of cross-references, which seems to disrupt the symmetrical, ordered superstructure, is symbolized by the image of the maze in The Shining, and by those scenes shot with a handheld camera or a Steadicam following the characters’ sinuous and/or syncopated movements. On the one hand, this apparent chaos seems, once more, to undermine the features of classical Hollywood narrative and the logic of cause and effect. Indeed, these characteristics are unsuited to explain the cross-references and repetitions. On the other hand, this play actively involves the spectators in visual and aural compelling experiences, in superbly conceived diegetic worlds that charm them with their beauty and challenge them with their enigmatic qualities. The spectators’ effort to follow the play of cross-references and repetitions seems to evoke their attempt to explain the complexity of the real world, finding cause and effect links among events. This same struggle also mirrors their effort to understand the most obscure working of their Plot Construction: A Chaotic Geometry 57 minds, such as the déjà vu that accompanies both daily experiences and nightly dreams. Indeed, Sigmund Freud wrote in a letter to his friend Romain Rolland that, when he visited the Acropolis, he thought of already having been there and he doubted the existence of the Acropolis itself. He called such a feeling “derealization”: if the subject feels that a piece of reality is strange to himself, there is a “déjà vu” (1936: 233–236). Freud links déjà vu to dreams both in Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901: 265) and in Fausse Reconnaissance (Déjà Raconteé) in Psycho-Analytic Treatment (1914: 203). In the former text, he reports what Dr. Ferenczi wrote to him: “It seems therefore that ‘déjà vu’ can derive not only from day-dreams but also from night-dreams as well” (1901: 266–267). In the latter book, Freud links the feeling of having had the same experience (and/or of having been in the same place before) with a memory of a dream that was forgotten: “Several authorities have argued with this view, and have maintained that the basis of the phenomenon is the recollection of something that has been dreamt and then forgotten. In both cases it would be a question of the activation of an unconscious impression” (1914: 203). In The Interpretation of Dreams, he returns again to the problem of déjà vu: “In some dreams of landscape or other localities emphasis is laid in the dream itself on a convinced feeling of having being there once before” (1900: 399). Kubrick’s adaptations, thanks to cross-references and repetitions that evoke déjà vu, acquire a dreamy atmosphere. This mechanism seems explicitly stressed in his last film, where déjà vu is so numerous to have induced some critics to interpret the diegetic world as a protagonist’s dream. For example, both Flavio De Bernardinis (1999) and Larry Gross (1999) interpret Eyes Wide Shut as a dream. The problem of such a hypothesis is that two questions remain unexplained in these scholars’ essays. Indeed, who is/are the dreamer/s? And when does the dream begin and end? My hypothesis is that the film is not Bill’s dream, but that it is constructed as a dream thanks to the play of cross-references and repetitions. These features are present in the other adaptations, too, even if they are not as stressed as they are...


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