STANLEY KUBRICK'S FEAR AND DESIRE, THE TEMPEST, COMUS, CHESS, AND HAL'S ERROR

Caveat emptor as to my knowing anything authoritatively, which I do not, but I do try to not know earnestly, with some discretion, and considerable thought).

The most important thing which must be kept in mind with Kubrick's films is there is the surface or principle story and then the internal or sub-story. In many of his films, if we're really paying attention, set elements pretty much immediately destroy the surface naturalism. One may not notice this destruction the first, second or third time one watches the film. Through constructive disorientation and disconnectedness, and sleight of hand as to where our eye focuses, Kubrick, the magician, intentionally obfuscates these elements that destroy the overt and naturalistic story line. The surface story lines are the principle ones, and this is maintained and supported by the intentional obfuscation of the deconstructive elements which keep them sub rosa. At the same time, these deconstructive elements are plainly there, alongside his tremendous effort to make things look real and believable, and once we bypass the disorientation and his purposeful refocusing they become a puzzle, annihilating the sense of reality. This destruction of the film's naturalistic story line is difficult enough to conceive of and accept that most people stop at this point and decide these puzzling aspects of Kubrick's films are errors when they are not. They are part of the art of a director cleverly designing the overt story line to be unimpeded by an internal story that tears it apart. Indeed, the sub rosa elements of the internal story may be discreet but they are enough in evidence to complicate the surface story with an aura of attractive, indefinable mystery, which is one of the reasons viewers return to Kubrick again and again. To work with the "reason" and "why of the internal story line is to try to settle into Kubrick's sensibility, examining how these internal stories form a dialogue in his oeuvre with repeating themes and ideas, elaborated upon from film to film. The internal stories haven't a "plot"; they aren't that kind of story. Instead, you have to be willing to deal with comprehending the themes and ideas represented in them as instead ultimately forming a different terrain for the setting of the surface story, guiding and interacting with the overt story and giving it a new form.

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STANLEY KUBRICK'S FEAR AND DESIRE, THE TEMPEST, CHESS AND HAL'S ERROR

A glaring mistake concerning The Tempest occurs in Fear and Desire and merits examination

In Kubrick's Fear and Desire, four soldiers (Lt. Corby, Sgt. Mac, Pvt. Sidney and Pvt. Fletcher) find themselves in enemy territory after their plane crashes. The second day into their adventure, they capture a woman who happens upon them when walking through the woods after fishing. The lieutenant verbally sexually intimidates the young woman, then insists upon keeping her bound to a tree, while Pvt. Sidney, distressed, several times entreats she not be hurt and even be released, insisting she's not a threat. Despite the fact Sidney has been seemingly increasingly unstable, the lieutenant leaves the woman alone in his care while he and the others go to check on a raft they were building the previous day, the lieutenant also leaving with Sidney his firearm. Also, the compound of an enemy general had been sited the previous day and this will become of interest to the group.

The play within a play

Haunted by memories of three men his fellow soldiers had killed the evening before, though it seems she knows no English (she may be uncommunicative for other reasons), Sidney attempts to gain the woman's trust and attention by dialoguing with her, pointing out to the woman that he is the one who acted in her benefit, attempting to protect her. When the woman is unresponsive, Sidney plays the clown, hoping to make her laugh. Verbally clarifying the role he's playing, despite the woman seeming to not speak English, Sidney tells her he's the general, believing she might have been catching the fish for him, and mimes him rapaciously devouring a meal. He finishes the little play calling for an orderly to bring him more fat fish the woman has caught for him. Though he is playacting a general, one is reminded of the killing of the enemy soldiers the previous night who had been dining, and Mac rapaciously finishing off their food, the Lieutenant encouraging them all to eat. When she doesn't even smile, Sidney bemoans how he's lost on this terrible isle (they are not on an island) and embraces her. He begs her to like him a little even if she must hate him.

Kubrick cuts away to the other group checking out the raft, the lieutenant worrying aloud about the way Sidney's been acting and whether he will be all right with the girl. Meanwhile, Mac observes through binoculars the general and talks to himself about how the general is a cocky little king. He wishes for a rifle sight so that he could "make the red eye between his ears. "Then he'd see McClellen!"

With this, Kubrick returns to Sidney again trying to win the woman's affection, this time with a story.

"You want to hear more? Do you? All right. Then the spirit, in the magician's power, goes back to the island and tells Miranda that her father's dead. The spirit sings how he's dead at the bottom of the ocean. His bones are coral, his eyes are pearls, and, Miranda, her father's dead. Can't you understand anything? Dead. Dead!" He playacts stabbing himself. "Dead!" He strangles himself. "Now do you understand?"

Though Sidney is relating to the woman a scene from The Tempest, with the emphasis on stabbing and death he also vaguely replays the killing of two of the enemy soldiers the night before, actions in which he'd not participated, instead witnessing them in horror and about which he'd had flashbacks when given the responsibility of watching the woman.

If the woman doesn't understand English, she has no reason not to believe Sidney might kill her, miming stabbing and choking mere inches from her face, staring her in the eyes.

Again, Kubrick takes us back to the other soldiers and the lieutenant telling Mac to go back and check on Sidney, to make sure nothing goes wrong.

Returning to Sidney and the woman, we find him bringing her water in a cup fashioned of his hands. He has been increasingly insistent in his advances, to the point where it seems he may rape her, but is still trying to cajole her into making love to him. She licks the palm of his hand, feigning acquiescence in the hope he'll untie her from the tree. When he does, she makes her bid to escape and he shoots her with the lieutenant's gun. He is worried about her running to tell the general what he had said, but one can also perhaps understand this as a continuing acting out of what occurred the evening before with the shooting of the third soldier.

But another layer pops up when Sidney denies responsibility and says the magician is at fault.

One has to wonder why Corby left Sidney to watch over the woman, leaving his gun with him. Throughout the film, the lieutenant presents himself as a brave, intelligent, commanding presence of integrity, but all his actions suggest he is not what he seems to be. He had demanded his men be civilized but had then sexualized the young woman in front of his men and had joked about the possibility of their raping her. The killing of the first two men, the night before, had been conducted in silence so as not to be heard, this carried out by Fletcher and Mac. Then, while they are eating the meal on which the murdered men had been dining,the third enemy soldier had entered the scene, carrying logs for fuel. The lieutenant had promptly shot him, as had Mac, which not only put them all in danger but had Fletcher questioning this action.

Mac, sent to see how Sidney is doing with the girl, hears the gun shot. He runs up and demands to know what has happened. Sidney, to our eyes, loses it.

He cries out, "It wasn't my fault! The magician did it. Honest! Prospero, the Magician! First, we're a bird, and then we're an island. Before, I was a general, and now I'm a fish! Hoorah for the magicians!" Sidney had originally protested the idea of making a raft on which to travel down the river as he couldn't swim well. Now, having claimed the river is blood, he runs off laughing maniacally as he declares he's going for a swim, and that's the last we will see of Sidney until near the end of the film.

What Sidney is referring to is how first they were a plane (the bird), then cast adrift behind enemy lines as on an island, then he was the general and finally the fish that the general had eaten. Transmutations and illusions, of which this film is composed. Even a dog that the group encounters on the first day, and runs off, will turn out to be named Proteus, the watch dog of the general, Proteus being in mythology both a sea god and shape-shifter, the name deriving from protean, which means having the capability to assume many forms.

During the course of the above related section of the film, Sidney has several times drawn upon lines and plot in Shakespeare's The Tempest. And I suppose I should now briefly relate the play's plot.

Prospero, a magician, is the rightful Duke of Milan, but Antonio, his brother, is determined to dispose of him, and convinces Alonso, the King of Naples, to set Prospero and his three-year-old daughter adrift on the sea. They arrive at an island that had been previously inhabited by a marooned sorceress and her son, Caliban. Prospero enslaves Caliban for physical labor. Using his magical powers, he releases a spirit, Ariel, from a tree in which he had been imprisoned by the sorceress. Ariel, with his rescue, is thus conscripted into Prospero's service. Many years later, Prospero's daughter now a young teenager, he divines that on a passing ship is his brother, Antonio, the King, and the king's brother and son, Sebastian and Prince Ferdinand. Plotting to bring the group to the island, Prospero rouses a tempest with Ariel, the illusion being that the ship is wrecked when it isn't. He also manages to separate the group so that Alonso believes his son, Ferdinand, to have perished in the shipwreck, and Ferdinand believes the king, his father, to have died.

When Miranda sees Ferdinand, she immediately falls in love with him and he with her, but Prospero feigns that Ferdinand is a traitor and treats him harshly for a time though Miranda begs him not to do so. Prospero later promises the two that they shall marry as long as they are chaste beforehand. In another ongoing plot, Antonio and Sebastian determine to kill Alonso so Sebastian will be king, but Ariel thwarts them. In the end, Antonio, Sebastian and Alonso brought before Prospero, who has been manipulating them, Alonso forgives Antonio and Sebastian and is reunited with Prospero. Alonso mourning the loss of his son, Prospero says that he too mourns his lost daughter, and Alonso declares that he would have them both alive and king and queen of Naples.

A curtain is pulled back to show Miranda and Ferdinand playing chess, all finally reunited.

In the story of Fear and Desire, the tempest is the war and the noise of war surrounding the (shipwrecked) soldiers in enemy territory. The illusion, at least partly, is that the enemy is radically different. However, when Corby and Fletcher kill the general and the captain, they are killing their doubles, and the idea is that these are people cut from the same cloth.

Kubrick may not have written the screenplay, but I'm going to have to assume that he had a good deal of input due it having themes that are found in his later films. A number of the ideas seem to have been generated by him but translated into script by the writer. Though Kubrick later slammed the dialogue as wordy and poorly written, in an interview he stated he wanted to do a poetic film and that he wasn't yet thinking cinematically.

The error

There are many reasons why The Tempest woould have been attractive to Kubrick. One I'd like to examine in some detail here is the chess angle. For though there are thought to be allusions to chess in some of Shakespeare's other plays, The Tempest is the only play of Shakespeare's in which we have characters playing chess. Kubrick was an avid chess player, and chess figures in many of his films, its most well known appearance being in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 2001, HAL, playing chess with Frank Poole, announces Poole's loss in such a way that it's revealed he is observing the game board from Poole's side. It has been argued by some that this error, HAL's speaking of the game from Poole's vantage, is the signal to us all that HAL is not operating as he should be, leading to his murdering members of the crew and seemingly going insane. I'll not discuss here exactly what happens with HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, I'm only preparing to show how we already have a version of HAL and his chess error in Fear and Desire.

The story from The Tempest, that Sidney relates to the woman when trying to win her attention and affection, is that of Ariel, slave to the magician, Prospero. He is singing to Prince Ferdinand as he guides him toward Prospero's daughter, leading the prince to believe his father has been killed.

Let's return to what Sidney says to the woman just after Mac has spoken of his desire to have a rifle sight so that he could "make the red eye between his (the general's) ears. Then he'd see McClellen!" The "red eye" might remind of HAL's red eye, and it should. Directly after this, Kubrick returns to Sidney who is standing away from the woman. First, there is a brief voice-over as Sidney thinks to himself about how women like stories. He then goes to her and relates his story.

"You want to hear more? Do you? All right. Then the spirit, in the magician's power, goes back to the island and tells Miranda that her father's dead. The spirit sings how he's dead at the bottom of the ocean. His bones are coral, his eyes are pearls, and, Miranda, her father's dead. Can't you understand anything? Dead. Dead! Dead! Now do you understand?"

After this, Kubrick cuts back to the other soldiers.

Sidney has stated Miranda learned her father's dead.

But it was not Miranda who learned of her father's death in The Tempest. Instead, Sidney is erroneously relating a scene in which, upon Prospero's orders, Ariel sings to Ferdinand that his father has been drowned with the shipwreck.

FERDINAND
Where should this music be? i' the air or the earth?
It sounds no more: and sure, it waits upon
Some god o' the island. Sitting on a bank,
Weeping again the king my father's wreck,
This music crept by me upon the waters,
Allaying both their fury and my passion
With its sweet air: thence I have follow'd it,
Or it hath drawn me rather. But 'tis gone.
No, it begins again.

ARIEL sings

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell
Hark! now I hear them,--Ding-dong, bell.

FERDINAND
The ditty does remember my drown'd father.
This is no mortal business, nor no sound
That the earth owes. I hear it now above me.

Why would Sidney act this out for the woman? Why would Kubrick have this section specifically spoken of in Fear and Desire--indeed, it's used twice so is of great significance. Moreover, why would Kubrick have Sidney seemingly botch the story by having him relate that Ariel has told Miranda her father is dead, his bones now coral, his eyes now pearls? Ariel doesn't tell Miranda this. Instead, Ariel tells Ferdinand his father, the king, is at the bottom of the ocean, his shape shifting with the sea-change to something rich and strange.

The scene, in The Tempest, occurs as Prospero brings Miranda to see, for the first time, Ferdinand. In return for Ariel manipulating the shipwrecked individuals, and having lied to Ferdinand about his father's death, Prospero promises him he'll be free in two days--for, in a short time, if all works to plan, Prospero and Miranda will be no longer exiles but returned to Naples, and Ferdinand and Miranda will hopefully be engaged to be wed.

Why does Prospero have Ariel tell Ferdinand his father is dead? Well, one reason would be that believing his royal father to be dead releases Ferdinand to make his own decision about whom he shall marry. (Shakespeare analyses discuss this.) It also frees Ferdinand from looking for other survivors so that he can attend instead to the new fascination of Miranda--which Prospero also ensures by holding him captive.

But what we need to examine is why Kubrick would have Sidney tell the story all wrong.

Sidney is as Ariel at this point in the film. I write in section 2 how we need to look upon Sidney as Ariel doing the magician's bidding, enslaved by him, paralleling perhaps Sidney doing the bidding of Corby, of officers over him, so that as a private he too could be seen as enslaved. After this, Sidney not only speaks of how the magician is responsible, the magician did it, he talks of being a shape-shifter. He has been a bird (the plane that they were on that went down), he has been an island (Corby, the night before, thinks upon how they are all islands), he has been a general, and now is a fish. He becomes as a protean shapeshifter who experiences multiple perspectives, personal identity boundaries broken. As he will remark later, he has lost his wallet.

We have, with this seeming "error" in the storytelling, and the seeming madness of Sidney, HAL's seeming mistake at the chess board in which he reveals the board not only from his own vantage but also that of Poole's. It is a kind of shape-shifting, the ability to see from more than one perspective, that is like Sidney's subsequent revelation that he has been a bird, an island, the general, and then the fish that the girl has caught and the general eats. His shape-shifting, protean nature gives him views from many different angles instead of one. HAL's doubling, through seeing both sides, is also much the same as when the lieutenant and Fletcher eventually kill the Captain and the General, the audience finding that the General has the Lieutenant's face and that Fletcher has the face of his Captain. And the Lieutenant, too, appears to glimpse his face in the General's.

HAL's mistake, his error in reporting what he sees, is when he gives the details of the chessmate from Poole's vantage. Sidney makes an error in his telling of the story of Ferdinand hearing of his father's death from Ariel (a death that hasn't happened), and then he becomes the shape-shifter who sees from all vantage points, being the ship, the island, the general and the fish.

Why might Sidney confuse Miranda with Ferdinand? Again, it has to do with the chess game and is more easily comprehended if we visualize Miranda and Ferdinand, after their engagement, at their game of chess in The Tempest. One reason it's supposed they might be playing chess is that Prospero has demanded that they remain chaste until married, and this is a way of occupying time.

As I earlier noted, The Tempest is the only play of Shakespeare's in which a chess game is played, and that isn't until the end, when the curtain is drawn to show Miranda and Ferdinand seated at their game, which is when Ferdinand is reunited with his father, the king, who he believed was dead, and the king is reunited with his son, who he had believed was dead.

Now, Prospero doesn't reveal the lovers playing the game until the following occurs. When Alonso bemoans having lost his son, Prospero tells him that just as he has lost a son, so too has he lost a daughter. Alonso replies:

O heavens, that they were living both in Naples,
The king and queen there! That they were, I wish
Myself were mudded in that oozy bed
Where my son lies. When did you lose your daughter?

It is only then, Alonso having effectively passed along the kingdom to his son, wishing that son was married to Prospero's daughter who would then be queen, that Prospero will reveal the couple to him. He has not told Alonso how the illusions beset him. And he doesn't tell Alonso his son is alive until his daughter is already accepted by Alonso as Queen of Naples.

Imagine you are in the audience watching. This island has been shown to be one of many illusions. Prospero is urging them now (Alonso--and the audience as well) to accept what they currently see as true, while he is false in saying he doesn't know the cause of the derangement that Alonso et all had experienced. "But howsoev'r you have been justled from your senses, know for certain that I am Prospero...this cell's my court. Here have I few attendants and subjects none abroad. Pray you, look in. My dukedom since you have given me again, I will requite you with as good a thing..." Which is when he pulls back a curtain to reveal Ferdinand and Miranda sitting playing chess on their black-and-white-checked board of opposites.

At first, Miranda and Ferdinand seem not to notice their unveiling, and the words they speak to each other, in that scene, have been much debated over as to what is the real meaning.

MIRANDA
Sweet lord, you play me false.

FERDINAND
No, my dear'st love,
I would not for the world.

MIRANDA
Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle,
And I would call it, fair play.

ALONSO
If this prove
A vision of the Island, one dear son
Shall I twice lose.

SEBASTIAN
A most high miracle!

FERDINAND
Though the seas threaten, they are merciful;
I have cursed them without cause.

We don't know the lay of the chess board. The dialogue is ambiguous and there are a number of interpretations of it. One belief is that Ferdinand might be cheating in Miranda's favor, throwing her the game as he is enamoured with her. She sees through this and accuses him of playing her false. Further, as lovers, they are unable to partake in honest rivalry as each happily wishes the other to do well.

Others see Ferdinand as actually cheating and that Miranda is saying she is fine with it.

One might also say we have Miranda seeming to place herself in Ferdinand's seat when she makes a declaration of how he should wrangle and calls it fair.

People have been debating Shakespeare, meaning and minutiae, for centuries, and various theories abound. Just as people debate meaning and minutiae in Kubrick's films and various theories abound. Debates over meaning and minutiae are nothing new.

An article at Chess Maniac gives the following:

Shakespeare wrote this chess scene composed of 64 words (like 64 squares on a chess board) in 8 line verse lines (8 rows and 8 files, just like a chess board). Each section is arranged in two equal parts of 32 words (like 32 pieces in a chess game).

It is composed of 64 words, something which I find is written of in a number of places and is accepted as purposeful though the meaning behind it is argued.

Let's look one more time at what Sidney says to Virginia, the only words spoken aloud during that scene.

"You want to hear more? Do you? All right. Then the spirit, in the magician's power, goes back to the island and tells Miranda that her father's dead. The spirit sings how he's dead at the bottom of the ocean. His bones are coral, his eyes are pearls, and, Miranda, her father's dead. Can't you understand anything? Dead. Dead! Dead! Now do you understand?"

It occurred to me to count the words as this is the error scene, the one equivalent to when HAL makes his "error" at the chess board.

There are 64 words. The same number of squares as in a chess board.

Coincidence? I've no clue. But isn't it curious that Shakespeare wrote the chess scene in 64 words, and that Kubrick has the "error" scene in Fear and Desire, the paraphrasing of Ariel's song from The Tempest, composed of 64 words? As if he was viewing that particular scene in terms of chess and even relating it somehow to the chess game in The Tempest?

Kubrick's first film was Day of the Fight and he made use of 64 in that. Shot 64 was the one in which Walter, the boxer, is seen in the arena nearing the ring. Earlier, it is pointedly stated that at 4 o'clock he has 6 more hours before he will be at the ring. So the 4 and 6 o'clock relate to Walter at ringside in shot 64. Preparing for his fight. His own game in which he meets his opponent in the ring.

I love Paul Mazursky, but the scene in which we have the error is so overwrought as to be nearly unwatchable, as with when Sidney takes off for his swim in the river. Perhaps the fault is partly with a stage actor (Mazursky had only done stage) not toning it down for film and making the action and those lines read to the back row in the theater audience as versus a film audience. Perhaps it's Stanley's fault with not knowing yet how to direct his actors (and Mazursky talks about this in interviews, how Kubrick didn't have a clue yet about directing actors). Or the fault could be partly a miscalculation on Stanley's part, in his first feature, if he was drawing attention to this section in which there is the error and it only came off as overblown as almost no one in the film audience is going to note the error because it is film and people tend to approach film at face value. At any rate, it was a rather brave error to make as there would be a few who did notice, who would take it as a goof on Kubrick's part, and who likely walked away just thinking Stanley was an unschooled idiot who didn't know The Tempest.

The insane Sidney makes the error, or the Sidney who has seen from many different points of view.

One of the points of Fear and Desire is to have the soldiers see also from the enemy's point of view, realizing that they are much the same. And the audience as well to experience this.

Of course, concerning the chess board and HAL's "mistake" being his seeing from Poole's vantage, the other side of the board, we have to consider the fundamental plot line of Fear and Desire, in which these men have crashed in enemy territory, are behind enemy lines, and are trying to make their way out. There is a rather awkward scene in which the lieutenant crouches down and draws their situation in the earth with a stick. He marks off a dividing line, makes a circle on one side to show where they are, then draws a line perpendicular to the dividing line and segmenting it.

"Once you understand how a mousetrap works, if you're clever enough, you can use it as a springboard. Here are the front lines. From our position just before we crashed, we should be in this general area. Our own lines are here and we should be about here. There's a river that runs East of where we are now, I think. That river cuts through the front lines and winds up on our side. Now, as I see it, we could use our reconditioned mouse trap on the river."

These men are as HAL and Poole playing their chess game. They have moved into enemy territory, and when they meet the general and captain and see them as themselves then we have HAL having viewed the chessboard not only from his vantage but then relating to it from the vantage point of Poole.

At first, the lieutenant refers to all men as being islands. At the end of the movie, after the killing of the general and his captain, when Corby and Fletcher return to their side of the front line, he instead relates, "I'm not sure yet whether even we've come back. I think we've all travelled too far from our own private boundaries to be certain about these other things anymore, or come back to ourselves."

They are as HAL. They are as Dave Bowman. They have gone outside themselves. And Kubrick is hoping they will be as the audience who has absorbed and experienced different points of view.

At the end of the film, during the above dialogue, the lieutenant and Fletcher are seated watching the river through a thick fog, hoping to catch sight of Mac, who is supposed to return to home ground via the raft while they had returned via a stolen plane. Mac had used the raft as a base from which to fire on the soldiers at the general's compound, distracting them, which gave Fletcher and the lieutenant the opportunity to kill the general and his captain then escape via the two-seater plane at the air strip there. Mac had been wounded, and drifting down river had found again Sidney, a wraith appearing out of the water, and taken him on. Together they had continued down the river. Now, as the lieutenant and Fletcher sit in waiting for Mac (they don't know he recovered Sidney), the fog parts, perhaps much as the curtain parts at the end of The Tempest to reveal the chess game. The parting of the fog reveals a vision of Mac and Sidney on the raft. Mac appears to be dead while Sidney is on his hands and knees, saying,

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade

We're returned to the error section, Sidney this time quoting The Tempest directly rather than paraphrasing as a story, and in this way we are also perhaps informed, as he recites the lines verbatim, that he full well knows the play and that the seeming error was even intentionally spoken.

Back to Alonso, however, viewing Miranda and Ferdinand playing chess, standing in awe of his son having been returned to him. At this point the play several times refers to new lives, restored lives, new worlds.

Seeing Alonso and his men, Miranda says, "How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in 't!"

Ferdinand tells his father that Miranda is, "daughter to this famous Duke of Milan, Of whom so often I have heard renown But never saw before, of whom I have Received a second life. And second father This lady makes him to me."

Alonso accepts Prospero as Ferdinand's second father in this second life, and announces how he is now father to Miranda, "I am hers."

This is all very ordinary language we've heard many times before. The way that the parts are ordered, the mysterious chess game followed by these professed unities, is what heightens their significance.

Now must we step back to Sidney's error, his assertion to the girl that Miranda's father was dead and at the bottom of the ocean. Dead. Dead. Dead. Did she understand? It is perhaps because Ferdinand and Miranda, as represented in marriage, have become as one, and Miranda's father is also Alonso. It is important that this unity, this sharing of fathers is depicted after the chess scene. For in the chess scene one sees competition, one side playing against the other. If Ferdinand is depicted as allowing Miranda to win, in their marriage they have become as one. The problem and mystery depicted in this chess game is sacred and universal. In a sense, they are unable to compete against each other for they are as one and everything they do is shared. And yet they are also two. This sounds both too simple or absurd to go on about unless one considers the ultimate problem of deity or universe as being by nature unable to operate in a divided and preferential manner (for instance, for those who believe in a "personal" god and trust that god is on their side, it is highly problematic if a monotheistic deity has a favorite football team).

As for the mousetrap, we have another Shakespeare reference I believe, the mousetrap of Hamlet, the play staged within a play that would reveal the truth of the murder of King Hamlet by Claudius, but I'm reluctant to lengthen this essay with a meditation on that. Just as there is much else that could be discussed about this film, the ultimate revelation of which is that neither Sidney nor HAL were mad on a level apart from reality. Instead, they weren't as they appeared to be, nothing is as it appears to be, just as all of Kubrick's films are not only what they appear to be at first-glance face value. Just as all of them operate within a completely different realm than that of straight realism. Kubrick gives us fair warning of this in his films, leaving clues everywhere, and was explicit about this in the voice-over at the beginning of Fear and Desire.

"There is war in this forest. Not a war that's been fought, or one that will be, but any war. And the enemies who struggle here do not exist, unless we call them into being. This forest, then, and all that happens now, is outside history. Only the unchanging shapes of fear and doubt and death are from our world. These soldiers that you see keep our language and our time, but have no other country than the mind."

What seemed reality in The Tempest were illusions raised by Prospero, then at the end he gives up his art of magic, breaking his wand, and begs to be released from the isle by the applause of the audience.

There remains the question of why this particular section, on the illusory death of Alonso, was the one chosen for this section in which the girl is bound to the tree. As I've previously noted, one reason it's supposed they might be playing chess is that Prospero has demanded that Ferdinand and Miranda remain chaste until married, and this is a way of occupying time. This chastity concurs with the story in Milton's Comus which is held to have been influenced by The Tempest.

Sabrina was a virgin who was either thrown into the river Severn or threw herself into it, in either case due to a vengeful stepmother, a first wife of Locrine who was abandoned for a second who became mother to Sabrina. She is saved by water nymphs and undergoes a change, the description of which is taken as serving as inspiration for the Ariel's description to Ferdinand of the change his father has undergone. In Sabrina's tale, considering how she is called upon to aid the woman held captive by Comus, I think we may also spy early myths of women who, attempting to escape rape, undergo a change of aspect. Locrine's wanting Sabrina to be remembered as a momento and symbol of Locrine's infidelity is rather peculiar, especially as Sabrina is good, and makes less sense than myths of a woman's escape of rape by flinging herself in a river. Either way, chastity and fidelity and the affronts of both are at play.

Bearing her straight to aged Nereus' hall; Who, piteous of her woes, reared her lank head, And gave her to his daughters to imbathe In nectared lavers strewed with asphodil, And through the porch and inlet of each sense Dropt in ambrosial oils, till she revived. And underwent a quick immortal change, Made Goddess of the river.

Sabrina becomes a goddess through the quick immortal change (the sea change Ariel held was undergone by Alonso), and the only one with power, in the Milton play, to defeat the sorcery of Comus, a Dionysian being of excess who is often depicted as passed-out drunk. Though the etymology of "coma" is unknown, it's not far-fetched to see how Comus would at least be poetically attached to the idea of the false sleep of the "coma". Milton certainly has this in mind, for in the play Comus has bound, with his magic, a lady of virtue in an enchanted chair so that she is unable to move. He strives to have her abandon her virtue. He taunts her that he has the power to chain her in alabaster, and she protests that he can still "not touch the freedom of my mind".

Does this not sound a little like the woman in Fear and Desire who is bound to the tree, who becomes as alabaster in death, and who Sidney protests is only sleeping?

When Comus is unable to convince the girl, he tries to make her drink a potion that would alter her temperament if she will not willingly change, at which point her brothers rush in to save her. Which is where Sabrina comes in, for the brothers make an error, and a spirit arrives who informs them of that error and how they can yet save their sister.

What! have you let the false Enchanter scape?
O ye mistook; ye should have snatched his wand,
And bound him fast. Without his rod reversed,
And backward mutters of dissevering power,
We cannot free the Lady that sits here
In stony fetters fixed and motionless.
Yet stay: be not disturbed; now I bethink me,
Some other means I have which may be used,
Which once of Meliboeus old I learnt,
The soothest Shepherd that ere piped on plains.
There is a gentle Nymph not far from hence,
That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream:
Sabrina is her name...

Their error is that they've not taken Comus' wand, bound him fast, and used his wand reversed, reciting Comus' spells backwards, to free the woman.

So Sabrina is called upon as for some reason she is the one and only one who can save the woman from her locked state, which must be compared with a coma. And why might this be except for her holding the power of reflection through her affiliation with water. They need, after all, to reverse Comus' spell, and if Sabrina is capable it is through her own powers of reversal.

This error, I think, is critical to Kubrick's work, for I've noticed with cross-analysis that he will sometimes have an implanted error. I don't mean such as the rearrangement of furniture, or settings changing, interiors not lining up with exteriors. No, I mean an error, such as we have with Sidney being in error in the story of Miranda and Ariel, which is corrected at the end of the film.

In Comus the girl does not drink while in Fear and Desire the captive woman does drink from Sidney's hand, which is one of the things that convinces him to untie her, he believing that she is showing her submission to him. But then he finds this isn't the case as she flees. We should also consider the relationship of Comus, and the drinking from Sidney's hand, with the drunken General and Captain at film's end who receive back the missing dog and dialogue on the question of its allegiance, as if it might betray them. It may be that Comus's drink, after all, is not what the girl sips from Sidney's hands but, as she herself came from the river (there are initially two other girls with her, in keeping with another myth of Sabrina having two and they simply being river spirits), then the waters of the river she drinks are representative of Sabrina aiding in the loosing of her bonds, just as in Milton's Comus. Sidney, providing her the waters of Sabrina, would have inadvertently aided her. And yet, gaining her freedom, she is still killed.

I'm convinced that we do have reference to Comus because of certain parallels, but one of the problems with analysis is the content that one is analyzing and, in this case, what exactly was Kubrick's intention and whether or not he was successful. These were individuals in their mid twenties and with young artists sometimes parallel stories lose coherence and rationality purposefully and sometimes not purposefully. Sometimes that loss of rationality is accepted and even desired with confidence in a fresh interpretation of the story. For which reason one can't look for a precise re-transmission.

This film hasn't the feel of a Kubrick film, other than the fact that we have the doubling which he uses in other films, and his flip horizontals already making an appearance. Though there is much actually to be praised about this novice film, the filming style, editing and dialogue doesn't feel Kubrickian. Yet we can see that we already have, in Fear and Desire, Kubrickian imagination and an essential story that he expressed repeatedly thereafter. He never stages an entire film in a forest setting again, and his dialogue later becomes far less philosophical and leaner. Exempting Danny's conversation with Dick in The Shining about some being able to see what others can't, discussion of what is real and what is not doesn't appear again until Eyes Wide Shut which ends with the Magic Circle game in the toy store. Kubrick shifts so ideas are expressed cinematically, in the visuals and music, rather than relying on the dialogue. Because Kubrick wasn't as cinematic here in the relation of the story, he was compelled to concretely show the general and the captain as being the same as the lieutenant and Fletcher, played by the same actors. It was fine for a first film. but his doublings later are more subtle, with the exception of the false twins in The Shining.

Kubrick's films utilize hidden mazes so frequently, I'd like to note that not only does Gonzolo remark on their experience being as a maze, toward the end of The Tempest we have Alonso comparing what has occurred to a maze.

This is as strange a maze as e'er men trod
And there is in this business more than nature
Was ever conduct of: some oracle
Must rectify our knowledge.

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