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Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler
An Excerpt from the Classic Novel That Inspired the Film
Twenty-four brown slaves rowed the splendid galley that would bring Prince Amgiad to the Calif's palace. But the Prince, wrapped in his purple cloak, lay alone on the deck beneath the deep blue, star-spangled night sky, and his gaze"
Up to this point the little girl had been reading aloud; now, quite suddenly, her eyes closed. Her parents looked at each other with a smile, and Fridolin bent over her, kissed her flaxen hair, and snapped shut the book that was resting on the table which had not as yet been cleared. The child looked up as if caught out.
"Nine o'clock," said her father, "time for bed." And as Albertine too had now bent over the child, the parents' hands touched as they fondly stroked her brow, and with a tender smile that was no longer in-tended solely for the child, their eyes met. The maid came in, and bade the little one say goodnight to her parents; obediently she got up, proffered her lips to her father and mother to be kissed, and let the maid escort her quietly from the room. Left alone under the reddish glow of the hanging lamp, Fridolin and Albertine suddenly felt impelled to resume the discussion of their experiences at yesterday's masked ball which they had begun before the evening meal.
It had been their first ball of the year, which they had decided to attend just before the close of the carnival season.Immediately upon entering the ball-room,Fridolin had been greeted like an impatiently awaited friend by two dominoes dressed in red, whom he had not managed to identify, even though they were remarkably well informed about various episodes from his hospital and student days. They had left the box to which they had invited him with such auspicious friendliness, promising shortly to return unmasked, but then had stayed away so long that he became impatient and decided to return to the ground floor, hoping to meet the two enigmatic creatures there again. He looked around intently, without how-ever catching sight of them; instead, quite unexpectedly, another female reveller took him by the arm: it was his wife who had just withdrawn rather abruptly from a stranger, whose blasémelancholy air and foreign-soundingevidently Polishaccent had at first intrigued her, but who had then suddenly let slip a surprisingly crude and insolent remark that had hurt and even frightened her. And so man and wife, glad at heart to have escaped a disappointingly banal charade, were soon sitting at the bar, like two lovers among other amorous couples, and chatting amiably over oysters and champagne, as though they had just become acquainted in some gallant comedy of seduction, resistance and fulfillment; and then, after a swift coach-ride through the white winter's night, they sank into one another's arms with an ardour they had not experienced for quite some time. A grey morning awoke them all too soon. The husband's profession summoned him to his patients' bedside at an early hour, and the duties of housekeeper and mother did not allow Albertine to rest much longer. And so the hours had passed predictably and soberly enough in work and routine chores, and the events of the previous night from first to last had faded; and only now that both their days' work was over, the child asleep, and no further disturbance anticipated, did the shadowy figures from the masked ball, the melancholy stranger and the dominoes in red revive; and those trivial encounters became magically and painfully interfused with the treacherous illusion of missed opportunities. Innocent yet ominous questions and vague ambiguous answers passed to and fro between them; and as neither of them doubted the other's absolute candour, both felt the need for mild revenge. They exaggerated the extent to which their masked partners had attracted them, made fun of the jealous stirrings the other revealed, and lied dismissively about their own. Yet this light banter about the trivial adventures of the previous night led to more serious discussion of those hidden, scarcely admitted desires which are apt to raise dark and perilous storms even in the purest, most transparent soul; and they talked about those secret regions for which they felt scarcely any longing, yet towards which the irrational winds of fate might one day drive them, if only in their dreams. For however much they might belong to one another heart and soul, they knew last night was not the first time they had been stirred by a whiff of freedom, danger and adventure; and with self-tormenting anxiety and sordid curiosity each sought to coax admissions from the other, and while drawing closer in their fear, each groped for any fact, however slight, any experience, however trivial, which might articulate the inexpressible, and frank confession of which might perhaps release them from a tension and mistrust that were slowly starting to become intolerable. Whether it was because she was the more impetuous, the more honest or the more warm-hearted, Albertine was the first to find the courage to make a frank confession; and with a trembling voice she asked Fridolin whether he remembered a young man the previous summer on the Danish coast, who had been sitting with two officers at the table next to them one evening, and on receiving a telegram during the meal had promptly taken a hasty leave of his two friends. Fridolin nodded. "What about him"' he asked.
"That same morning I had seen him once before," replied Albertine, "as he was hurrying up the hotel stairs with his yellow suitcase. He had glanced at me as we passed, but a few steps further up he stopped, turned round towards me and our eyes could not help meeting. He did not smile, indeed his face seemed to cloud over, and I must have reacted likewise, because I felt moved as never before. The whole day I lay on the beach lost in dreams. Were he to summon meor so I believedI would not have been able to resist. I believed myself capable of doing anything; I felt I had as good as resolved to relinquish you, the child, my future, yet at the same timewill you believe this" you were more dear to me than ever. It was that same afternoon, you remember, that we talked so confidingly about a thousand things, discussing our future together, discussing the child as we had not done for ages. Then at sunset when we were sitting on the balcony, he walked past us on the beach below without looking up, and I was overjoyed to see him. But it was you whose brow I stroked and hair I kissed, and in my love for you there was also a good deal of distressing pity. That evening I wore a white rose in my belt, and you yourself said that I looked very beautiful. Perhaps it was no coincidence that the stranger was sitting near us with his friends. He did not look across at me, but I toyed with the idea of stepping over to his table and saying to him: Here I am, my long awaited one, my belovedtake me away. At that moment they brought him the telegram; he read it, went pale, whispered a few words to the younger of the two officers, and with an enigmatic look in my direction left the room."
"And then"' asked Fridolin dryly as she fell silent.
"Nothing more. All I know is that next morning I awoke in some trepidation. What I was anxious about'whether it was that he had left, or that he might still be thereI do not know, and even then I did not know. Yet when at noon he still had not appeared, I heaved a sigh of relief. Don't question me further, Fridolin, I have told you the whole truth." You too had some sort of experience on that beachof that I'm certain."
Fridolin got up, paced up and down the room a few times, then said: "You're right." He stood at the window, his face in darkness. "In the morning," he began in a restrained, somewhat resentful tone, "often very early before you got up, I would wander along the shore out past the resort; yet early as it was, the sun would always be shining brightly over the sea. Out there along the shore, as you know, there were little houses, each a little world unto its own, some with fenced-off gardens, some just surrounded by woods, and the bathing-huts were separated from the houses by the road and by a stretch of sand. I seldom encountered anybody, and there were never any bathers at that hour. One morning, however, I suddenly became aware of a female figure, not visible before, who was gingerly advancing along the narrow side-walk of one of those bathing-huts on stilts, putting one foot in front of the other and stretching her arms behind her as she groped along the wooden wall. She was a young girl of no more than fifteen, her loose, flaxen hair falling over her shoulders and on one side across her tender breast. Gazing down into the water, she slowly inched her way with lowered eyes along the wall toward the near corner of the hut, and suddenly emerged directly opposite where I was standing: she reached behind her even further with her arms, as if to gain a firmer hold, looked up and suddenly caught sight of me. Her whole body began to tremble, as though she were about either to fall or to run away. But as she could only have proceeded very slowly along the narrow plank, she decided not to move,and so she just stood there, looking at first frightened, then angry and finally embarrassed. But then all at once she smiled, a ravishing smile; indeed there was a welcoming twinkle in her eye,and at the same time a gentle mockery about the way she lightly skimmed the water between us with her foot. Then she stretched her young, slender body, as though exulting in her beauty, and evidently proud and sweetly aroused at feeling my ardent gaze upon her. We stood opposite each other like this for perhaps ten seconds, with lips half open and eyes aflame. Involuntarily I stretched out my arms toward her; there was joy and abandon in her gaze. All at once, however, she shook her head vigorously, let go of the side of the hut with one hand, and peremptorily signalled that I should withdraw; and when I could not bring myself to obey at once, such a pleading, such a beseeching look came into her child's eyes that I had no alternative but to turn away. I hastily resumed my walk without once turning roundless out of consideration, obedience or chivalry, than because I had felt so profoundly moved by her parting lookfar transcending any-thing I had experienced beforethat I was on the point of swooning." And with that he ended.
"And how often," asked Albertine flatly, looking straight ahead, "did you later follow the same path?"
"All I have told you," replied Fridolin, "just happened to occur on the last day of our stay in Denmark. Even I don't know how things might have developed under other circumstances. And you too, Albertine, shouldn't inquire any further."
He was still standing at the window, motionless. Albertine got up and went over to him, her eyes dark and moist, her brow slightly creased. "In future we should always tell each other things like this at once," she said.
He nodded silently.
He drew her to him. "Do you really doubt that?" he asked; but his voice still sounded harsh.
She took his hands, fondled them and looked up at him with tearful eyes, in the depths of which he tried to read her thoughts. She was now thinking about the other, more real, experiences of his youth, some of which she was privy to, since during the first years of their marriage he had given way to her jealous curiosity rather too eagerly, and revealed, or, as it often seemed to him, surrendered many things he should perhaps have kept to himself. He could tell that various memories were now resurfacing within her with some urgency, and so he was hardly surprised when, as if in a dream, she mentioned the half-forgotten name of one of his youthful loves. Yet to him it came across as a reproach, even as a quiet threat.
He drew her hands to his lips.
"In every womanbelieve me, even though it may sound trite,in every woman whom I thought I was in love with, it was always you that I was searching for. I feel this more deeply, Albertine, than you can ever understand."
She smiled sadly. "And what if I too had chosen to go exploring first?" she said. Her expression changed, becoming inscrutable and cold. He let go her hands, as if he had caught her out in a lie or infidelity; but she continued, "Ah, if only you all knew," and again fell silent.
"If we only knew" What do you mean by that?" Rather harshly she replied: "More or less, my dear, what you imagine."
"Albertineis there something you have never told me?"
She nodded with a strange smile and looked straight ahead. Vague irrational doubts began to stir within him.
"I don't quite understand," he said. "You were scarcely seventeen when we became engaged."
"Yes, Fridolin, a little over sixteen. And yet"she looked him straight in the eye"it was not my fault if I was still a virgin when I became your wife."
"Albertine!" And she continued:
"It was on the Worthersee, shortly before our engagement, Fridolin, when one beautiful summer evening an extremely handsome youth appeared outside my window which looked out over broad extensive meadows, we chatted away together and in the course of our conversation I thought to myself, just listen to what I thought: What a sweet, delightful, young person he is,he would only have to say the word this minute, though of course it would have to be the right one, and I would go out and join him in the meadows and follow him wherever he desired,into the wood perhaps;or it would be lovelier still if we were to go out on to the lake together in a boatand that night he could have everything he desired of me. Yes, that is what I thought to myself.But he did not say the word, this charming youth; he just fondly kissed my hand,and the next morning asked me whether I would be his wife. And I said yes."
Fridolin let her hand go, displeased. "And what if that evening," he remarked, "someone else had happened to stand outside your window, and had said the right word: for example"he wondered whose name he should mention, but she stretched out her arm in a gesture of demurral.
"Anyone else, whoever it might have been, could have said what he liked, it would have been to little avail. And if you hadn't been the one to stand before my window"she smiled up at him"then the summer evening would not have been so lovely either."
His mouth twisted in a sneer. "That's what you say now, so at this moment you may even believe. But"
There was a knock at the door. The chambermaid entered and announced that the porter's wife from the Schreivogelgasse had come to fetch the doctor on behalf of the Count Counsellor, who was again feeling very ill. Fridolin went out into the hall, learned from the messenger that the Count Counsellor had had another heart-attack and was in a bad way, and promised to come over at once.
"Are you going out"Albertine asked him as he was hastily preparing to leave, and from her irritable tone it seemed as though he were deliberately treating her unjustly.
A little incredulously Fridolin answered, "But I have to."
She sighed lightly.
"It shouldn't be too bad, I hope," said Fridolin, "in the past, three grams of morphine have usually helped him over the attack."
The chambermaid had brought his fur coat, Fridolin kissed Albertine on the mouth and forehead a little absent-mindedly, as if the last hour's conversation has already been erased from his memory, and hurried off.
A Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael
Hmmm...tell me something...those two girls at the party last night. Did you, by any chance,
happen to f- - - them?
(coughs and splutters)
What!? What are you talking about!?
I'm talking about the two girls that you were so
blatantly hitting on.
I wasn't hitting on anybody.
Hmmm...Who were they?
They were just a couple of models.
ALICE sits up next to BILL.
Where did you disappear to with them for so long?
BILL starts to kiss and touch ALICE.
Ohhhh! Wait a minute, wait a minute! I didn't disappear with anybody. Ziegler wasn't feeling too well. I got called upstairs to see him Anyway, who's the guy you were dancing with?
A friend of the Zieglers'.
What did he want?
(as Bill kisses her ear)
What did he want? Oh ...what did he want?
Sexupstairs, then and there.
Is that all?
Yeah...yeah. That was all.
Yeah, that's right.
I guess that's understandable.
Because you are a very, very beautiful woman.
Woah! Woah! Woah! Wait!
ALICE puts the spliff into the ashtray on the bed, disengages BILL's arms, and gets up. She backs up towards the bathroom leaving BILL sitting on the bed
So...because I'm a beautiful woman the only reason why any man wants to talk to me is because he wants to f- - - me! Is that what you're saying?
Well, I don't think it's quite that black and white, but I think we both know what men are like.
ALICE now leans against the door frame.
So, on that basis I should conclude that you wanted to f- - - those two models?
There are exceptions.
What makes you an exception?
What makes me an exception is that...I happen to be in love with you and because we're married and because I would never lie to you or hurt you.
ALICE starts walking to the other end of the room.
Do you realize that what you're saying is that the only reason you wouldn't f- - - those two models is out of consideration for me, not because you really wouldn't want to?
Let's just relax, Alice. This pot is making you aggressive.
It's not the pot, it's you! Why can't you ever give me a straight f- - -ing answer!
I was under the impression that's what I was doing. I don't even know what we're arguing about here.
(sits on a stool)
I'm not arguing. I'm just trying to find out where you are coming from.
Where I'm coming from?
ALICE gets up and stands at the end of the bed.
Let's say, let's say for example, you have some gorgeous woman standing in your office naked and you're feeling her f- - - ing tits. Now, what I wanna know...I wanna know what are you really thinking about whe you're squeezing them?
Alice, I happen to be a doctor. It's all very impersonal and you know there is always a nurse present.
So, when you are feeling tits it's nothing more than your professionalism, is that what you're saying?
Exactly ...sex is the last thing on my mind when I'm with a patient.
Now, when she is having her little titties squeezed, do you think she ever has any little fantasies about what handsome Doctor Bill's dickie might be like?
Come on, I can assure you that sex is the last thing on this f- - -ing hypothetical woman patient's mind.
And what makes you so sure?
If for no better reason...because she's afraid of what I might find.
OK! OK! So, so after you tell that everything's fine what then?
What then? Ah, I don't know that, Alice, What then? Look, women don't ...they basically don't think like that.
ALICE gets up and provocatively points a finger at BILL
pace up and down at the foot of the bed.
Millions of years of evolution, right? Right?
Men have to stick it in every place they can, but
for women ...women it is just about security
and commitment and whatever the f- - -...
A little oversimplified, Alice, but yes, something
If you men only knew....
I'll tell you what I do know is that you got a
little stoned tonight. You've been trying to pick
a fight with me and now you're trying to make
But you're not the jealous type, are you?
No, I'm not.
You've never been jealous about me, have you?
No, I haven't.
And why haven't you ever been jealous about
Well, I don't know, Alice. Maybe because you're
my wife, maybe because you're the mother of
my child and I know you would never be
unfaithful to me.
You are very, very sure of yourself, aren't you?
No, I'm sure of you.
ALICE bursts out laughing.
Do you think that's funny?
ALICE collapses onto the floor, her laughing fit uncontrollable
F- - -ing laughing fit, right?
ALICE calms down a little.
Do you ...do you remember last summer at
Do you remember one night in the dining room?
There was this young naval officer and he was
sitting near our table with two other officers?
ALICE sits back against the radiator and focuses on her
The waiter brought him a message at which
point he left. Nothing rings a bell?
Well, I first saw him that morning in the lobby.
He was ...he was checking into the hotel and
he was following the bell-boy with his luggage,
to the elevator. He ...he glanced at me as he
walked past, just a glance. Nothing more. But I
could hardly move. That afternoon Helena
went to the movies with her friend and you and
I made love, and we made plans about our
future and we talked about Helena and yet at
no time was he ever out of my mind. And I
thought if he wanted me, even if it was for only
one night, I was ready to give up everything.
You, Helena, my whole f- - -ing future.
Everything. And yet it was weird because at the
same time you were dearer to me than ever and
. . . and at that moment my love for you was
both tender and sad. I ...I Barely slept that
night and I woke up the next morning in a
panic. I didn't know whether I was afraid he
had left or that he might still be there, but by
dinner I realized he was gone and I was
BILL is stunned by what ALICE is telling him and it is
some time before he can respond to the repeated ringing
of the telephone. He finally picks it up.
Hello? Yes, this is Dr Harford. When did it
happen? No, no, erh ...I have the address.
Lou Nathanson just died. I'm gonna have to go
over there and show my face.
34. INT. TAXI CAB - NIGHT
BILL sits in the cab thinking about what ALICE has told
35. INT. ROOM - CAPE COD - DAY
BILL, in his jealousy, fantasises about ALICE and the
NAVAL OFFICER making love.
36. INT. TAXI CAB - NIGHT
BILL continues to torture himself with ALICE's confession.
37. INT. LOBBY - NATHANSON APARTMENT
BUILDING - NIGHT
The elevator door opens and BILL comes out. He walks
across the elegant, art deco lobby and presses a door-bell.
38. INT. HALLWAY - NATHANSON APARTMENT -
A maid walks to the door of the luxurious apartment
and peeps through the spy-hole. This is ROSA. She opens
Good evening, Rosa.
Good evening, Dr Harford.
How is Miss Nathanson?
Not so good. She's in the bedroom.