by Herbert H. Stein
“The first time I saw the film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, I left the theater with a particularly good, buoyant feeling.” I wrote that for the Fall, 2014 issue of the PANY Bulletin (and internationalpsychoanalysis.net) and added that a colleague later told me he had the same reaction after seeing the film. After seeing the film, Birdman, I wrote that I “found myself in rapt attention in a continual state of tension, anxiety, anticipation, even worry over what would happen next. When it was over, I texted that I had just seen it and didn’t know if I loved it or hated it.” I again left the theater with the mood of the film lingering.
Neither of those experiences was as striking as my reaction to Ex Machina. I saw it originally alone, and on leaving the theater, I found myself totally caught in the mood the film had created, walking homeward on familiar streets, but feeling oddly disconnected from the world and the pedestrians around me. I was totally conscious and aware of my surroundings. Cognitively and visually, my contact with reality was intact; but, my feeling state was as if I was still in the world of the film. The “real” people I was passing in the street were strangers, of course, but now they felt strange. A colleague described her reaction after seeing Ex Machina as being dissociated.
I decided rather than analyzing myself that I would try to analyze Ex Machina to better understand its effect. (more…)