STIR OF ECHOES
The launching pad for the supernatural journey taken by an extremely skeptical Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is a hypnosis session, conducted spontaneously by his sister-in-law Lisa, portrayed by Illeana Douglas, at a neighborhood party
The launching pad for the supernatural journey
taken by an extremely skeptical Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is a
hypnosis session, conducted spontaneously by his sister-in-law
Lisa, portrayed by Illeana Douglas, at a neighborhood party. When
Tom becomes hypnotized, he loses his disbelief ... and
strange things start happening shortly thereafter in the old house
Tom, his wife Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) and their young son Jake (Zachary
David Cope) rent from a neighbor.
As it turned out, the crucial hypnosis scene was not only researched,
but actually experienced firsthand by two of its key participants
- director David Koepp and actress Illeana Douglas. As
Douglas explains, she and Koepp visited a hypnotherapist in Chicago
shortly before production began, and they "went under"
"It was my idea - I really wanted David and I to get
hypnotized," says Douglas. "I felt it would really help
my character. She has to hypnotize Kevin Bacon's character, and
we really wanted the session to be realistic. Normally, on TV,
you see someone hypnotized and they run around and act like a
chicken or something. We didn't want that - we wanted it accurate.
So we found a hypnotist in Chicago and he explained the whole
thing to us. A lot of what you see in the hypnotizing scene comes
from our discussions with him. The comment in the film about only
eight percent of the population being capable of going fully under
when hypnotized - that came from him, and so did several
other things. So does much of the method my character uses to
hypnotize Kevin in that scene.
Crucial to that method was Lisa's suggestion to Tom Witzky that
he imagine himself in a movie theater as he begins to relax. Douglas
suggests a bit of supernatural may have been at work in the placement
of that concept into the script.
"The hypnotist went on and on about the idea of being in
a theater as a common theme when hypnotizing people," Douglas
says. "Coincidentally, David Koepp had written that idea
into the script long before we began researching this. He just
liked the idea and then, later, we find out that is a classic
technique. I thought that was pretty weird."
The actual theater where Tom's supernatural journey begins during
his intense hypnotic session is the venerable Rialto Theater in
Joliet, Illinois, located 50 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.
The ornate structure was built at the turn of the century as a
place for rich industrialists to see theatrical productions. Refurbished
a few years ago, the building today is a registered landmark.
The theater scene shows what takes place in Tom Witzky's mind
while he is being hypnotized. The experience profoundly changes
him, and Bacon's character wasn't the only one changed by hypnosis.
Douglas recalls her hypnotic experience with Koepp as the film
"The really interesting thing about the experience was that,
for the rest of the day, both David and I felt we were more open
about our own life memories and things," Douglas recalls.
"I remember we talked all day about childhood memories and
many other things we had not thought about or talked about for
years. It was like all of these different life experiences had
been stored in our brains, but they required something to unlock
or trigger them. I think that being hypnotized unlocked them all.
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