Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – Esoteric Analysis

Mirror image film poster showing Nicole's 'open' eye in the midst of sex: the characters' inner pysches and problems are about to be mirrored in the 'real' world, as they realize they have been blind and 'profane.'

By: Jay Dyer

Eyes Wide Shut is a film that failed to live to the expectations of many. It was supposed to be an edgy thriller that made statements about upper echelon decadence, while also utilizing the real world sex life of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a kind of doorway bridging the gap between reality and fantasy - something that does come up in other Kubrick films, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey.  In this Kubrick film, however, we have a statement about who runs the "show."  The show is both the film itself, as well as reality, and Kubrick wants viewers to realize that reality is run by our present showmasters of the videodrome. The viewer is supposed to reflect upon the decadence of the Eastern elite establishment, but also notice that viewing the film itself is homage to present social hypocrisy, since the film is a wannabe voyeuristic step into the sex lives of others. In this regard, it functions as an initiation. None of the other analysts and commenters have really noticed this. Virtually every review I have read sees it as some elaborate "MKULTRA/Illuminati" mind control thing (as is supposedly everything on those sites), while other reviews from professors and academia see it as a social or psychological commentary. I think it has elements of all this, but the real goal is, I believe, an initiation process. The viewer is at the film because he or she is curious about Hollywood secrets and elite lives. Think of all the silly gossip magazines we have.  The "average Joe" went to see the film for a glimpse of Nicole Kidman, and Kubrick wants the viewer to see the hypocrisy in such an action, given that most people will "judge" the film's secret society cult. Eyes Wide Shut, then, is a descriptor of the audience, as well as the characters in the film, who don't really understand the socio-political power base that runs things. The power base is not, according to Kubrick's film, the average politician or wealthy doctor or lawyer in New York.  Indeed, this is precisely Kidman and Cruise's characters' status: they are unwitting inductees. Thus throughout the film, the viewers eyes are wide shut to the reality of the power structure, just as Kidman and Cruise's characters are, until the end, when they have their eyes "opened," as they both say at the end. Let us proceed. The opening scene shows us Mrs. Harford (Nicole Kidman) between two pillars. This is the doorway to the initiation, in other words. The two pillars figure prominently in Freemasonry as the entranceway to the divine, as borrowed from Solomon's temple:

Nicole stands between two pillars - Jachin and Boaz, setting the initiatory tone for the film.

The two pillars of Freemasonry borrowed from Solomon's Temple, indicating the doorway to the "mysteries"

The viewer is being told from the beginning that they are to undergo an initiation into how the "mysteries" and the secret societies work, particularly from a sociological perspective.  The Harfords, we discover, are having marital troubles related to sexual frustrations. It is also significant that it is Christmas time, when the initiatory procedure takes place, as a kind of anti-traditional religious/anti-Christian statement. It is also important to remember that all details in a Kubrick film are significant - the placement of everything is meaningful and deliberate.

As mentioned in the picture above, the film is full of mirrors, which are symbols of the psyche, the inner world as it were, as well as other worlds. This occurs in Alice in Wonderland, for example, and this theme, as well as the Wizard of Oz, both figure prominently, and are theosophical allegories. Most commenters who note this point to it as some kind of MKULTRA control mechanism, but I think that is far-flung – more realistic would be the usage of such stories as allegories or metaphors for transformation – the metamorphosis of initiation into the “mysteries,” if you will. Both stories have theosophic undertones and symbolism, and thus constitute initiatory tales as well. When the Harford’s arrive at the party, we see a clear symbol of what kind of initiation they are going to undergo – a Satanic one, as we see from the inverted pentagram:

The doors of their perception are about to change as they enter the party marked with an inverted pentagram.

Ziegler, Harford’s friend, invites the couple to his parties frequently under the auspices of eventually getting them to participate in the orgies. As it turns out, there are two parties, and Mr. Harford’s old college buddy, Nick Nightingale, plays piano for both. Initially, both Harfords resist the temptation to sleep with other people, yet appear to have the desire given their own marital sexual problems. However, what we continue to suspect is not that the events are randomly occurring, but rather that it has been organized. It is not an accident that Bill Harford’s college buddy has shown up. Alice gets drunk and is then hit on by Sandor Szavost, a wealthy Hungarian.  Szavost is likely a reference to Anton Szandor LaVey, the founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan.  I think this is a symbolic reference, just to let us know the crowd they are being allowed to party with is ultimately an upper echelon Satanic cult. It is also interesting to note that the original story (“Dream Story”) is written about a couple who undergoes the experience in upper class Austria around the turn of the century, since Germany is the origin of the actual members of the Order of Illuminati.

Bill discovers that Ziegler is involved in some shady dealings, and apparently has some connection to drugs and beauty queens. “Mandy,” a beauty queen we later discover, is knocked out from drugs – ‘asleep’ and nude, and we will find Alice experience something similar. Mandy has almost overdosed, and Dr. Harford tells her she cannot keep doing what she is doing: we don’t know if it’s a suicide attempt or not.  It is also interesting that the nude woman in the painting above Mandy is sprawled out in the same position, as if to allude to the film’s thesis of a thin borderline between fantasy or dream, and reality.

Next, we see the Harfords going about daily activities. Notice again the inverted pentagrams in the background:

More inverted pentagrams pop up.

The Harfords then have a big argument over sex and the desire to cheat, and Alice tells Bill she once wanted to have sex with a young man years ago at a hotel. Throughout their condo we see images of gateways in gardens, indicating again that this is a film about initiation. Gardens also bring to mind Eden, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve due to sin, or it could refer to their coming initiation into the “garden of the gods,” so to speak, as they are about to experience the underworld in overworld.

Garden/doorway imagery.

Bill then leaves to visit a patient who has passed away, and begins his languorous escapade for an extra-marital affair.  He finds out his patient’s daughter has a crush on him, but Bill decides to remain faithful and leaves. He begins to suspect marriage is bad for others, too, as Sandor had tried to convince Alice. Bill then roams the streets looking for sexual fulfillment, passing hookers and sex shops. He then gets harassed by a group of guys who (for no reason whatsoever) call him a homosexual, showing society’s obsession with sex.  Bill bumps into a pretty hooker and is invited to her apartment. He concedes, and steps into the world of the lower class, finding that sex is an “issue” everywhere. More symbolic imagery is used, as we see the prominent placement of books on sociology in the whore’s apartment. Kubrick is showing us that he is making a statement on sociology – but not the one most people think. It’s the true sociology of how the world is really run.

If you like this analysis, read the rest of the best and click the image below to order a signed copy of Jay’s book!  This analysis is now redone and in print. 



88 Comments on Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – Esoteric Analysis

  1. Great article! And glad not to see emphasis upon mkultra, etc.

    The garden symbolism actually strengthens your theory about the initiatory aspect of the movie. Masonic gardens are a well established fact. There’s a scholar called James Stevens Curl who has written a couple of books on it as well as academic papers; Rosicrucian expert Christopher McIntosh also wrote a book on it; and I actually have a scholarly book here that is solely dedicated to the subject (from a conference) which I’m mining for a future article. Illuminatus Landgrave Karl von Hessen-Kassel (1744-1836) had a garden for initiatic purposes, the French and English masonic aristocrats had famous ones in the 17th and 18th centuries as well. The grounds on these properties are rife with statues of Minerva, Apollo and various motifs alluding to sun worship and the like – on purpose.

    Those masked balls as well – check this out.

    • I recall the garden section in Yates’ Rosicrucian Enlightenment, and in fact, I was fishing around your Bavarian site looking for just that link on gardens, which I knew I had seen in the past.

      Thanks for the link and compliments!

  2. Of course, Nicole just lives down the road (couple hours). If she ever drops Keith Urban, I’ll let her induct me into whatever she wants. She’s hottttt 😉

  3. That doesn’t sound very Christ like jay008…whats up with that brother?

    • Perhaps not, but I’m being honest – Nicole is fly. Also – I don’t take spiritual advice over the interwebz. Who might you be, “jb”?

  4. Keep your grubby paws of my girl Jay

  5. I’ll let you and Keith Urban fight it out – meanwhile, I’ll watch over sweet Nicole.

  6. The preceding secret agent…Bond, James Bond;)

  7. Bond isn’t very Christian.

  8. Perhaps not, but I’m being honest – I don’t take spiritual advice over the interwebz. I’m totally messing with you Jay….just having some fun with you brother. I was providing some accountability at first…as I know I need this all the time myself. What good are we as men of God if we do not encourage one another with a Godly mindset. You have a great website filled with a plethora of info that is well needed so that others may become aware. Whether or not we see eye to eye spiritually… you being an RC and I Protestant. That’s ok, as I still respect you as an individual and a fellow brother in Christ. Cheers my friend! Keep up the great work and comical satire.


  9. Wonder if there’s relevance to the guy being named Nick, since the devil is often called “Old Nick.” Great analysis. This is yet another movie I’ll have to see.

  10. I thought about that, as well as Nightingale…

  11. Interesting analysis.

    It’s perhaps worth noting that the break down of the Cruise and Kidman marriage that lead to divorce seems to date from the period of this film.

    Actors seem to routinely internalize influences from their roles, and the couple and their relationship portrayed in this film, given the account here — I haven’t seen it, are just wretched.

  12. Thomas Dean Nordlulm // June 3, 2011 at 5:34 pm // Reply

    One of the better essays I have read on the subject. I, too, have viewed it as an initiation for the spectator. This film is working on so many levels and it had sunk into my subconscious since I saw it at the cinéma in 1999 and I never really knew why I was so intrigued until the last few years after finding so much recent analysis done on it (which doesn’t focus on infidelity soley, cos that is a miniscule part of the film). Thank you!

  13. Kubrick shows sex is sex the rich can just afford more prostitutes in a better setting.

  14. Good article. There is so much to this movie but, having watched and read about Kubrick going in I knew what to watch for. Your analysis is very good and brought up some things I missed on first viewing. I was wondering what you made of the overwhelming use of colors in the backgrounds. Especially red and blue. It seemed blue was used early on as sort of a symbol of innocence (their child’s room had a blue “glow”) and red was used when there were elements of “the sex” world. It seems Alice is mostly in blue lighting when she starts to relay “the dream” and towards the end of it she is framed by the bathroom door which has more of a red shade. Also, there is a point (maybe when Dr. Harford is helping his friend with the overdosed model) when he is framed by the blue/green curtain in the background no matter where he moves. With the grey material at the top of the window and the blue/green curtain it almost looks like it is raining on him.

  15. I just saw the movie for the first time tonight, being very interested in some things I had read about Kubricks works. I loved the article, and thank you for not being very hype based. Anyway..my question was the usage of the Christmas imagery…could it be an allusion to the winter solstice? Arent the the summer/winter solstices important for ritual magick? Providing the viewer a little more insight to the times of the year most important to them? Forgive me if im wrong, ive been trying to absorb much of this kind of material.

    • Absolutely. I think you’re spot on. In many “Illuminist” programs and shows Christmas is prominent, such as Doctor Who for example, which has it’s famous Christmas special every year. I think the solstice is correct.

      • thanks for responding so promptly, Jay…I had a second question-have you read anyone mentioning the piano tones played at various volumes leading up to the masked ball, and afterwards when he encounters possible danger from the elites? If Kubrick meant for everything to have its meaning, whats the significance of that? It sounds like a code of some sort…err, i dunno..im gonna go get my guitar out later and see if i can figure out the notes. Thanks, buddy!

      • I know the music during the ritual is significant as Romanian Orthodox chant or something, which was the second choice after Crowley being played in reverse, which was rejected, but I don’t know about the piano notes.

      • I’m actually responding to rubistar here. If you notice, once Bill has been caught at the party and he returns to the central room we are met with a single piano tone. This tone and three others are played repeatedly over and over from that point on in the film to create tension and to signify interaction with the “society”. In the scene where these tones first appear the man in the red cloak is sitting in a golden chair. It always appeared to me that a masonic symbol of the 33rd degree was set on the top of the chair: the two birds and the crown sitting upon their heads. Perhaps via the result of some bisociation (to steal a phrase from Arthur Koestler) the idea of the music, the 33rd degree masonic imagery and the idea of the piano player having the password led me to look at the piano. Starting at C and counting 33 white keys you end up at a G. Starting at C and counting 33 keys both white and black, and you end up at G sharp. These notes plus another G are the notes played whenever Bill is reminded of or runs across the “society”. G is also a common symbol of freemasonry. I’ve heard the phrase “the keys of freemasonry” before (Manly P’ Hall’s book), maybe he means notes. The man in the red cloak asks for the password. Bill says, “Fidelio”. but that is not the right password. I have wondered if the notes playing in the background are a hint. As one last point G is sol in do re mi fa sol.

  16. I’m watching it now. The people (all probably) at the xmas party of Zieglers are the same people at the orgi. The hungarian man asks Nocole KIdman if she likes renaissance art. Hence the masks at the orgi are all Venetian renaissance.

  17. I can’t say I agree entirely with this analysis. Intriguing, but not in keeping with the consistent themes of Kubrick’s films, in particular his last three: The Shining, Full Metal Jacket ad EWS. Kubrick is much more interested in the evils of wealth, power and (so-called) “civilization” than sex or secret societies. The misogyny of wealth, power and civilization is another key element in these last three films that you see prominently illustrated in EWS. A very detailed analysis of EWS that I think hits closer to the target can be found here: http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0096.html

    • That Tim Kreider essay is a little out-dated to say the least, its from the year 2000, when most folks were totally BAFFLED by the meaning of this film. Tim Kreider didnt seem to fully understand it, of course that was 12 years ago.

      Kent Daniel Bentkowski’s research on this is INVALUABLE. Highly recommend that. There is a great Youtube video featuring an interview with him.

  18. What a great analysis ! Excellent work. You have included quite a few things that I didn’t notice (Masonic Garden , occult Stars on the curtains, etc). If it is OK with you , I would like to include some of your findings in my Eyes Wide Shut expose video, even though I’m waiting for Jay Weidner’s next film which is supposed tackle that exact subject.

    By the way did you ever notice the connection between “Behind The Green Door”, “The Devil Rides Out ” (aka The Devil’s Bride), “Eye Of the Devil” and “Devils Advocate” ?
    These films are all amazingly similar to Kubrick’s E.W.S.

    As you may well know, Michael Tsarion was the first to point this out.

    Zeph Daniel also does some great research on the name & characters in E.W.S.

    R.I.P. Kent Daniel Bentkowski.

  19. Dwayne 2215 // June 17, 2012 at 8:38 pm // Reply

    I would agree with all of what you wrote except your comments about masonry. As a master mason I find any comments that bridge masonry to the satanic to be uninformed and insulting. I would suggest you better educate yourself before making such statements about a God fearing society as freemasonry.

  20. Dwayne 2215 // June 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm // Reply

    I would say, based on Masonary piousness and the satanic lack there of the earlier references by Kubrick to Masonary and the latter to satanic ritual symbolizes the transition of Alice and Bill from goodness to evil.
    By the way; The hand gesture to which you refer never occurs in ANY level of Masonry.

  21. Also from Richardson, the Knights of the Christian Mark:

  22. There is also the sign of the master of the second veil:

  23. Furthermore, the cult in Eyes Wide Shut includes women – again, more like a directly Satanic or Crowleyan group.

  24. Great analysis! Love the Torah references.

  25. Great point! Yeah, I’ve seen Ninth Gate, and had forgotten that.

  26. I’m the owner of the Idyllopuspress blog Mike Dean links to above, stating my analysis to be his. Just to let you know I did not post this link here. And with his comments he’s attaching views to me which are not my own. I would prefer these comments to be wiped but until time that they ae just wanted to post this alert. (Got here by way of checking my stats and seeing that visits were coming from this page.)

  27. It’s a proclamation of who is in charge. The ritual was real and you were a part of it. You have been inducted into it and are now an accomplice to their actions because you do not change any of your habits. That’s why people walk away with a weird feeling…they have just attended a Satanic ceremony. What do they do? They want to go back for more, to revel in it, they are titilated by it. You are a low-level inductee now, congrats!

    • Incidentally, you have the “old man patient” die in his bed in the movie and you have “Kubrick” supposedly die in real life in his sleep. But did he? Was he actually initiated to the next “hidden” level for his loyalty to the cause? Because of the “numbers” of his death, it is possible that his death was “ritual” to add power to the ceremony, but that he lives in peace in anonymity where his family can actually visit him if they want, but sworn to secrecy. I believe this happens to others. Remember that Kubrick was afraid to come back to the U.S. because he had dangerous enemies. Maybe he wanted to be “dead”.

      Another candidate for this is Eugene Levy.

      • Actually edit that to Eugene Shoemaker (not Levy).

      • That’s a very interesting idea. Considering no media was allowed inside, who truly knows and the idea of having just been apart of a ritual would indeed explain this odd feeling inside. I remember reading that the rituals of MTV’s awards in 2009 and the past Grammy after Whitney’s death were also rituals that we partake in by watching. It’s all really disturbing, really, but you have interesting/scary ideas that very well may be true.

  28. Eyes Wide Shut could be seen as a autobiography to Stanley Kubricks life during the 50s. Here is a quote from wife in a newspaper article: http://partners.nytimes.com/library/film/070499mag-kubrick-profile.htm

    CHRISTIANE KUBRICK: “He saw me on television in Munich. He called my agent and hired me. I met him at a studio, and then he went to an enormous masked ball where I was performing. He was the only one without a costume. He was quite baffled.”

    He met his wife in a actual “masked ball” just like in EWS and this film was Kubricks confession as a way of trying to expose what he had seen the Elites doing at that party (possibly involved in mk-ultra slaves).

  29. Nice essay! One of these days I plan on posting some of my own thoughts about this movie.
    Not to kick a straw man when he’s down, but I find Dwayne’s argument about “real” masons practicing only benign rituals for honorable purposes rather specious.

    In the movie, Bill naively assumes that “Fidelio” is all one needs to know to join in with the group. He soon discovers that he doesn’t possess the faintest clue about what really goes on there, nor could he possibly ever, regardless of how many passwords he’s given.

    Bill Harford is mocked because there IS no second password. Likewise, perhaps the average freemason is led to believe that reaching the 33rd degree is some big deal, when perhaps it has very little to do with the real business of being a mason. At a certain level, perhaps degrees amount to window dressing at most.

  30. not sure if this was mentioned: Dr Bill makes the hangman sign (signaling sacrifice) when the deah of the girl-victim is mentioned at his “friends” mansion. The fact that these gestures correspond secretly to thematic action seems to me to be a tacit nod to the way our reality is secretly controlled in broad daylight for the profane.

  31. “That defense and the investigation, which is facing a critical judicial hearing in late November, have offered a keyhole view into a clandestine practice in certain powerful circles of French society: secret soirees with lawyers, judges, police officials, journalists and musicians that start with a fine meal and end with naked guests and public sex with multiple partners.”

    “The investigation into the prostitution ring in Lille ultimately swept up 10 suspects, including Mr. Strauss-Kahn. They knew each other largely through their membership as French Freemasons, according to Karl Vandamme, a defense lawyer who represents Fabrice Paszkowski, the owner of a medical supply company who played a crucial role in organizing the sex parties.”

  32. The mask on the pillow may also be meant to imply that someone else had been inside his bedroom. Placed next to his soundly sleeping wife, this could come off as a poignant threat.

  33. Eye Wide shut has many complex connections and meanings with other films by Kubrick:

    1) Shining/Eyes wide shut connection? http://i49.tinypic.com/2ef2ovq.png

    2) 2001/Eyes wide shut connection? http://i48.tinypic.com/20s669h.jpg

    3) Cont. http://i47.tinypic.com/2wcpveq.png

    4) Barry Lyndon/ Eyes Wide Shut connection? http://i46.tinypic.com/2mg1t28.png

    5) Clockwork orange/Eyes wid eshut connection? http://s10.postimage.org/xbrqj8eyx/Drooges.png

  34. I haven’t bothered to read allll the comments so sorry if this had been mentioned, but while reading this, I realized Mandy was the hooker! Their hair is the same, as you said she’s a member trying to help initiate him. Test him. He gave her the money though she kept telling him not to and that’s why she went out of her way to tell him to get out while he could. She knew he was a good man frm when he saved her/when he chose not to cheat/paid her anyway. This made her decide to keep him out of trouble! The Z man who’s friends with Bill called her a hooker and then Bill repeated “a hooker, a hooker?!” Z didn’t lie about that b/c she Was a hooker. A hooker and an ex-beauty queen! Now did They kill her, I think so considering Z was in the same room with her at the 1st party. While I was watching the movie, I was trying to figure out who gave her the drugs in the first place? Which of course was Z, and they were together doing things so if it looked like she was over doing it, he should’ve been able to stop her before it got too far. I think she could’ve been suicidal on her own, but since it’s a cult, they probably killed her. Although there’s something else, she could’ve actually Had HIV, checked into that hotel, and killed herself there, or Been killed there! She was going to die soon anyway, it seems she may’ve been suicidal, so maybe she wanted to get it over with sooner.

    I’m wondering if they truly had Nick killed or how that story went, but someone mentioned that Nick could be a.k.a as Satan and Nick did play the piano and Lucifer was the meister of music… it could be that Nothing happened to Nick and that all of it really Was a charade.

    I don’t think Alice knew. When I saw the scene about the mask on the bed, I thought it was their way of scaring him further, showing that they could enter his house and get that close to his wife without anyone even knowing (meaning a sort of Threat.) The part where Alice is bothered and crying (after he finishes his story) suggests this same idea that she had no idea about the cult unless she was pretending she had no clue. But while we’re on the Alice in Wonderland idea, maybe she only dreamed of that wonderland but was never apart of it until her husband got initiated. They could’ve manipulated her dreams or yeah, drugged her, I mean they knew where she lived and the goal was to get him further down the rabbit hole. I think Alice was an unaware tool, the dreams were the White Rabbit, and Bill was the true goal.

    Besides these personal ideas of mine, i thought this analysis KILLED. Thanks!

  35. Ziegler/Jacobs ladder interpretation: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Wt62Mb86Idg/UGWDROdD7BI/AAAAAAAAC6Y/-IFWaMs6kfw/s640/ews+jacobs.jpg

    Also check out these behind the scenes pictures from the L.A exhebition on Kubrick:


  36. The Nightingale reference is obvious. Who’s the bird who is up all night witnessing the display under the moonlight? Nightingale. The little bird who slips the password to the protagonist so that he can enter the temple.

    Your analyzes is superb, esoterically speaking. I think you’ve nailed it on everything, with a few exceptions:

    I think you overplay the conspiracy element. Ther eis an element of “the right path” here too. The initiation theme is apperant for anytone who knows anything about initiation, ritualisticly or otherwise. However, there are 2 different paths here – one is the theatrical and “false” initiation he experience in the Temple of the elite. The other is the real which he experience in his life in relationship to hiw wife.

    Remember, he is being testet again and again, but where you see organized human control, I see the “invisible hand” of the Almighty – or carma if you will – arranging synchronicites and trials. One example: He was on the verge of sleeping with the temptress Domino – but then his wife called him (synchronicty) and it was sufficient for his conscience to tear him away from the hypnotic desire. He was rewarded. For as we learn later, she received a message the very next day that the HIV test was positive. in other words, had he fallen for the temptationj he would have been marked for life and perhaps also infecting his wife.

    Albeit we live in a class divided society where the 1% forms their own powerful and closed circles, they are neither almighty nor so clever that they can control every little aspect of our lives – they may dictate certain options (the left hand path), but we always have the final say in what we choose. Incidentally, at the beginning when Alice enters the pronaos between the pillars, we see that she enters it from the right (the middle point being where the lamp stands – a symbol of the ever burning lamp – or ever burning fire, that all initiatory temples have. Instead of demonizing her as being some kind of whore for the powers that be, or worse, some kind of mindless bimbo – she is quite the opposite (and this is where I believe your interpetation is lacking) – she is the symbol of the sacred feminine – which is more or less lost / supressed today, due to the patriarchal structures of the power elite.

    The protagonist is torn between the allure and the dark attractions of the night, represented by the cabal and their materialist ritual, and the love and fidelity to his wife, who is his saviour several times and also who helps enlighten him in several scenes (whether she knows it or not). In fact, she never even acted upon her desires, she just tried to make hims ee that yes females ARE sexual creatures just like men, and theat he does not know the female archtype (yet – when he breaks down and cries at the end, it is a symbol of his release and reintegration with the anima, represented by his wife).

    This is a contrast to the objectification, that the females have in the ritual. There they are also sexual creatures, but not on their own standing, rather they are objects and decorations in the male patriarchal dark fantasy – indeed they are actual whores (and not “mother” and “wife”).

    The whole movie is a joseph cambell journey of the protagonists story on growing from being asleep to becoming enlightened (from ego-centrism to soul-centrism). The anima-animus symbolism is key here. Remember that, as we know from Jung, the animus is NEVER singular and ALWAYS masked (like shadows, plural, all sorts of archtypes), fitting with the dream of his wife where she first slept with a soldier (uniformed, no individuality) and then a hundred men, also fitting with the display in the ritual it self, where all men are masked and most of them have clothes (as in the original novel, only the females where displayed naked – similar to the ritual setting of the “Story of O”).

    Whereas the anima is singular and often leads to fixation and obsession (projected upon the “black widow”, the femme fatale) that our hero tries to put on the girls he cross during his night, but eventually ends up re-finding in his wife (“forever” was his suggestion, not hers). The chymical wedding is crowned when she suggests they must make haste to “fuck”, which is the physical reintegration of the emotional one that they just did, after he came cleen and admitted to her what he had experianced. Her experiance was more elevated, for it took place in the world of the soul (the dream), whereas his journey was through space-time of our world, a material reflection (like the mirrors) – or she just mirrored his jorney in her dream, since she stayed connected to him throughout the entire journey – never interferring, only setting him upon the journey by revealing that she too has sexual urges, which igited his obsessions, and then she stepped back and awaited him patiently, never making drama or demands or jealousy, only being there for him until he returned like the proverbial son to the fathers house (finally he learned the “password” of the house).

    I could go on, but im afraid the rambling effect would increase. My point is just to commend your decoding of the saga, and filling in a little hole that I believe you’ve overlooked in your otherwise brilliant account. Its much more spiritual than just about conspiracy and total control, its about reality, as you point out, lest we never forget that in this dark world of suffering, injustice and corruption we have also true and genuine qualities, like love, fidelity, and light – notwithstanding symbolised through the sacred feminine.

  37. The whole Animus- Anima or dream/waking life makes perfect sense in reference to As Above- So below.

  38. Sandor Szavost is George Soros?

  39. Interesting commentary & yet u failed to pick up that Alice was the woman in the feathered mask.

  40. there is lot more to this than meets the eye the rainbow is the clue also the bears in the shop are aslo a massive clue. just before Dr bill goes in to rainbows costume door you see a shop below called under the rainbow. now when malich is serving Dr bill he hears a noise (remeber the shop name ,under the rainbow), he walks under a rainbow and finds his dughter with two japanese guys malich tells the japanese guys his daughter is a child . so what did you find under the rainbow a child ok now here it is Rainbow is a childrens charity .

    i mentiond the bears in the toy store at the end helena picks up a teddy bear and asks if if she can have it for santa willbring here one now look behind helena you will see another teddy bear with a doll in its lap .

    so what you will say , ok pudys is a bear that is a charity simbol for, chldren in need.

    you see where this is going its not jabout the 1% elete its about what they can do and get away with especialy with children

  41. Very rare still of a deleted scene from Eyes Wide Shut:

  42. From 1:13 onward. This is taken from the 2014 Vienna Life Ball — an HIV/AIDS Charity Gala and fashion event.

    T’is of interest.

  43. “Masked balls go back to ancient times, but the past few hundred years they have come to mark the party life of certain cadres of the upper echelons of power. Renaissance Britain had many masked balls, as well as France, and according to Vatican insider and exorcist, Malachi Martin in his famous book Hostage to the Devil, such ritual orgies certainly do take place. Bill is tricked into revealing his identity and we get the impression the cult is going to kill him, until a girl steps forward to “ransom” herself for him. I suspect this is Mandy from earlier in the film, who now wants out of the secret society. Her way out will be death, as Bill will discover her name in the obituary for an overdose. Here is a great example of a modern masked ball of upper class elites.

    Bill takes the cab home and Alice wakes up giggling and laughing, as if she had been drugged. He tells her she was dreaming, and she starts to cry. He asks what the “dream” was and she says it was “so weird” – “we were in a deserted city and our clothes were gone. We were naked and I was terrified and I felt ashamed. And I was angry because you…rushed away to find clothes for us. As soon as you were gone it was completely different. I felt wonderful. Then I was lying in a beautiful garden stretched out naked in the sunlight and a man walked out of the woods. He was the man from the hotel I told you about – the Naval officer. He stared at me and he just laughed. He just laughed at me….He was kissing me and then we were making love, then there were all these other people around us – hundreds of them everywhere – they were all fucking. And then I was fucking other men, so many I don’t know how many I was with. I knew I could see me in the arms of all these men…and I wanted to make fun of you, to laugh in your face. And so I laughed as loud as could. And that must have been when you woke me up.”
    Great breakdown of the film! Kudos!

  44. Andrea Ostrov Letania // December 21, 2014 at 4:20 pm // Reply

    Interesting it takes place during Christmas which commemorates the birth of Jesus.
    Joseph was ‘cuckolded’ by God and had to overcome his doubts.
    Similar kind of sexual panic, insecurity, and rage in EWS. And finally an understanding.

  45. what about the Yale guys walking down the street, and make many references to homosexual activities.

  46. I’ve wanted to rewatch this film for many years.
    The first time I watched it was strange. A gay guy I was friends with had become friends with a bunch of strippers from Atlanta’s notorious Gold Club. It wasn’t really my scene. I reluctantly tagged along to a party at one of the stripper’s apartments. Everyone was doing coke but me. My friend gave me a pill(ecstasy) & soon after taking it, I passed out.
    When I woke up, my friend was beside me on the couch and everyone else was gone. Wee hours of the morning. I didn’t ask about anything that occurred while I was passed out(did they all just party around my unconscious shell? Did they leave and go elsewhere? ). He suggested we watch Eyes Wide Shut. It was surreal. Would like to view it again with fresh, clear eyes.

  47. ” Most hookers don’t study sociology” Citation needed.

  48. I only ever saw this film once. I hated it and left before it finished, went outside and threw up. I had a genuinely bad reaction to that film I never wish to revisit. I usually love Kubric films but not this one. There’s a bad undercurrent in EWS that belies it’s bland, almost corny exterior. I’ve never witnessed a leading couple with less passion for each other. I started to believe at one point Kubric probably made it as some bizarre joke we would all get many years down the line.

  49. Did you notice the stuffed tiger on the prostitutes bed is the stuffed tiger Helena buys at the toy store at the end? Major clue..

  50. Scariest part of the movie might be Helena in the toy store. She seems to go off with two men from Ziegler’s party. http://www.idyllopuspress.com/idyllopus/film/ews_nine.htm is where I saw that bit.

    Anyway, love your reviews. This is my favorite interpretation of EWS that I’ve read.

  51. My question is why is the film so obvious/deliberate/canned/boring—whatever words describe it.

    This script moves slowly. Obvious questions are answered by characters when it isn’t necessary. We take too much time buying a costume, finding money in a wallet, etc.

    Other Kubrick films like The Shining don’t have this quality. They are quite entertaining. Is this just poor filmmaking and Kubrik getting older? Or is this part of the strategy, perhaps communicating a dream type quality or a type of slow hypnotic pace for the ultimate intention of initiation?

  52. Fantastic read! Thanks.

    I’ve always wondered why Kubrick had the dead man’s daughter so resemble Alice? She suddenly declares her love/passion/lust for the Doctor and he politely placates her. Shortly thereafter enters her future husband to be and he looks resembles Dr. Bill!

    Is this second couple meant to be a sort of diluted doppelganger to the Alice/Bill couple? I may be way off, but these 4 seem to bear a striking resemblance to one another; even their speech pattern and general demeanor is too similar to be accidental.

    What are we to make of this? If anything…

  53. Excellent analysis!

    It might interest you to know the mask Dr. Bill wears is a Venetian Volto (or Larva/Ghost) mask. This is a doubled mask, a mask over a mask, a mask that conceals an artificial face, conceals what is already an artificial identity, endowing identity with a ghostly aspect, as a semblance, a false appearance. What other figures at Somerton do we see wearing a similar mask? The most clear example is the Mysterious Woman herself; she too is wearing a variation of the Volto Ghost mask, whereas none of the cloak and hooded figures appear to be wearing this type of double mask, but ordinary single masks as exposed artificial faces.

  54. Nice article. I just re-watched this the other day, and man is it profound.. One thing I am curious about though, is the character of ‘Domino’ the prostitute:

    Your analysis, along with the others I’ve read, makes note of the fact that when Dr Bill first visits her apartment on the night of the party, we see a number of masks hanging on her wall; suggesting that she too is ‘wearing a mask’ or playing a role, and is thus connected to his initiatory process. Fast forward to the next day, and Bill returns to her apartment to conclude the transaction and get what he wants.

    As most reviewers assert, the door is answered by another girl – with different hair and more conservative dress. She flirtatiously asserts that Domino is “not there”, before introducing herself as ‘Sandy’ and ushering Dr Bill inside. What strikes me is the immediate familiarity and flirtatious behaviour between the two of them, as if they are acting out some kind of role play, along with the strong physical resemblance between ‘Sandy’ and ‘Domino’. As we know, Bill propositions Sandy for sex, but she declines, informing Bill that Domino has just been found HIV positive, and that as Bill was ‘with her’ last night, he should know about this. Bill calms down, but instead of asking Sandy to relay his condolences to Domino, he seems to direct them awkwardly at Sandy.

    Suffice to say; I am actually wondering whether ‘Sandy’ and ‘Domino’ are the same person; if not in a literal sense then in a deliberate symbolic sense? I.e. Domino was ‘wearing a mask’ the night they met, according to some kind of alter-ego/role-play scenario, as is common with prostitutes, but on the next day when Bill returns, he sees her without her ‘hooker mask’ on; dressing conservatively, with different hair and makeup, and using a different name, i.e. wearing a ‘respectable mask’.. Again, the body language between Bill and ‘Sandy’ suggests familiarity, as Bill dispenses with the formalities and tries immediately to undress her, as if they were simply picking up from last night – as if he is simply collecting on the service he paid for. Like so many of the women Bill meets, Sandy also appears somewhat numb and dissociated, especially to the news of ‘Domino’s’ HIV test results.

    Was ‘Domino’ trying to give herself a makeover and start a new life as a result of testing HIV positive? Was ‘Sandy’ simply her ‘daytime mask’ or alter-ego etc? Was the red hair of Domino just a wig? Again, all of the analyses I have read thus far make no hint at this possibility, and simply assert that they are two distinct individuals, when to me, everything from the script to the symbolism indicates one individual with two personas.

    If so, this would tie directly into the film’s themes of masks and social hypocrisy, along with the themes of dissociated sex-slaves and the sacrifice of the redheaded beauty. Not to mention the use of alter-egos and aliases by prostitutes, strippers etc.

    Any thoughts, Jay?

  55. just discovered your site via the excellent review The Men Who Stare at Goats at Spyculture.com. lots of fun, exciting, scary stuff here.

    i haven’t seen this movie in ages, but kubrick’s movies are known for their wonderful music. not this movie, imo. in any case, the name fidelio brings up to my mind beethoven’s lone opera, a prison-rescue narrative where the wife, leonore, “transvests” herself, masks herself, to become fidelio in order to rescue her imprisoned husband. Significant for the themes of this movie. When women mask themselves, they do so to achieve agency in a male-dominated world & to rescue men from themselves (a la Portia in The Merchant of Venice.) When men mask themselves, it is generally for evil purposes.

    Also, the triple note idea, or tripled-repetition of musical motifs, may refer back to Mozart’s Masonic/Rosicrucian initiation opera, The Magic Flute. These moments occur at significant moments in the initiatory journey. Btw, assuming this is not an idealized representation of secret societies for the middle/lower class audience that would have been the first attendees for this opera (unlike his others), Mozart had an extremely high opinion of the “secret society” that he was involved in, viewing them as embodying his understanding of Christian ideals of love & forgiveness. or is that precisely what the Enlightened Ones, the Initiated, want us to think?

    great site. thanks again. too poor at the moment to sign up. thank god for free stuff!

  56. Any esoteric analysis for the show westworld ?

  57. Anyone else notice that Bill finds out that Mandy overdoes from the newspaper.”overdosed and rushed to hospital in critica condition”, but not dead. As far as the public knows from the newspaper she was still alive just in critical condition at the hospital,l. Bill only finds out she died after going to the hospital. But, when he goes tonz Ziegler’s home and they have the confrontation, Ziegler already knows she is dead and that the police are satisfied doors locked from the inside etc. etc. Also, there’s so much subtle world play throughout the film. When bill first gets to Ziegler ‘s party, he tells her he remembers her having something cought in her eye and she responds “about half fifth ave. Fifth ave being an exclusive area of nyc mixed with x rated thoughts here I can use your imagination. When bill is awalkong the streets and first meets domino, it sounds very close to”would you like to comeinsideofme.

  58. On a side note , you really should do Michael Clayton eventually. It’s like freebase for an analysis.

  59. This is very much a biblical account. Bill being handsome rich and charming is hit on everywhere. His wife and other women are often being drugged and seduced into rampant sexuality. And when both if them are at the point of falling for it, they are saved. His wife dreams she slept with the man she would have thrown her life away for, and he laughs at her and she sleeps with a train of men to her horror. Then Bill finally tries sleeping with the hookers roommate only to find out he had almost slept with someone with Aids the night before. This is the seduction of a moral family by the corrupting forces of money. Look at how many of Bill’s interactions come down, to throwing money around to get what he wants. And at the end both of them wake up to the horror that has transpired, with their willingness.

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