Resnais speculates on the utopian dream that life is infinitely perfectable, that human chaos, despair and horror can be spirited or educated out of existence. There are two stories, to correspond to each of these possibilities. In the first, set in 1914, Count Forbek (Raimondi), aristocrat, aesthete and visionary, erects a Temple of Happiness in which a select few will be drugged into a state of original innocence. In the second, set in the present, a gaggle of theorists (Gassman, Chaplin) have taken over Forbek's castle to conduct a seminar on the 'education of the imaginative'. Both enterprises come to grief, though in the process Resnais does realise his own utopia, a realm of vast imaginative possibility. A third story, a simple but charming fairytale on similar themes, is offered as 'objective' proof.