Alice Harford asks her husband doctor Bill whether a hypothetical woman patient may be thinking about Bill's anatomy when she is being
examined by him, during a drug-influenced argument at the Harford household in "Eyes Wide Shut", Stanley Kubrick's final film.

An Interpretation, Part Two (of Three) - Carnality is Key to These "Eyes"

By Omar P.L. Moore/   SHARE
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Aside from the colors of the rainbow including the heavy presence of red and blue in almost every shot and the strong emergence of purple and deep burgundy later on, the nude female is the recurring motif in Stanley Kubrick's film.  And the nude female body that we see is almost always the same, in height, proportion, weight, appearance and general form.  Beginning with Nicole Kidman, whose character Alice Harford undresses to start the film (and is seen naked from behind on two other occasions in "Eyes Wide Shut"), the naked woman is a constant.  The nude women are the most unsexy, unattractive and unsettling naked women you will ever see, and Mr. Kubrick no doubt did this on purpose to make a larger point about fidelity and the ugliness of adultery and what it symbolically does to muddy and destroy a committed relationship.

The most telling thing is that there are three occasions in "Eyes Wide Shut" where Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) touches or comes very close to touching a woman's naked body, either in his professional capacity or in a hospital environment, but not ever in a personal or informal capacity. 

As a medical doctor Bill Harford first examines a naked Mandy (Julienne Davis), slumped in a deep red-burgundy sofa.  During the preceding scene he has been summoned to the upstairs room of Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack) at the Zieglers' Christmas party, where Mandy is initially unconscious.  Dr. Harford tells Mandy to "look at me" and later admonishes her, saying that she "can't keep doing this."  Dr. Bill also mentions to Mandy that she's "going to be okay this time".  With both of these quoted statements by Bill to Mandy it is evident that Dr. Harford has had to clean up these post-adulterous messes between Victor and Mandy on more than one previous occasion. 

As a point of reference Victor is married to Illona (Leslie Lowe), who says to Alice Harford when both couples initially meet at the Christmas party that Victor says the words "you look absolutely stunning" to "all the women."  (Does this mean that Illona approves of an open relationship in their marriage or is merely making an observation about her husband?)

The second time Dr. Bill Harford examines a naked woman is when he's first seen in his office during a montage sequence.  An anonymous topless woman patient (who has red hair like Nicole Kidman's character Alice Harford -- likely another manifestation or image of Alice in Bill's guilty-conscience mind) sits up, perched on a table as Dr. Harford examines her with his stethoscope.  A female nurse is present, thus constituting an "intervention" of sorts even if the good doctor isn't thinking about sex.  As any viewer of "Eyes Wide Shut" knows, interventions either by cell phone or a third person physically present occur throughout the film.  As the physical examination of the woman patient concludes the patient gives Dr. Harford a lecherous look (see photo below.)  It is a fleeting but powerful look, there for any viewer of the film to see with his or her own eyes wide open. 

Except of course, for Dr. Harford himself, who doesn't really see.

The Look of Lust is in Her Eyes: A topless patient has a lustful look at Dr. Bill Harford following his examination of her in his office.
This occurs during a montage scene over which Shostakovich's Waltz #2 plays during "Eyes Wide Shut", Stanley Kubrick's final film.
Alice Harford later asks Bill whether a hypothetical woman patient may be thinking about Bill's anatomy when she's being examined.
What does the patient's look suggest?

Later on that same evening at the Harford apartment during a drug-hazed argument Alice uses a hypothetical example of a topless woman patient that Bill examines.  "When she is having her little titties squeezed, do you think she ever has any fantasies about what handsome doctor Bill's dickie might be like?", Alice asks.  Is this coincidental referencing of the hypothetical patient by Alice just that -- a coincidence?  Or is it part of Alice's dream?  Or is it a reference designed to further show that Dr. Bill is just a shallow and naive man walking through life with blinders on, unreceptive to any sexual stimuli -- after all, he barely notices the nakedness of the women he sees or examines throughout the film -- whether as a doctor or in situations outside his professional ambit.  Remember the opening few minutes of the film when Alice asks Bill how she looks as they get ready to leave their Manhattan apartment to go to the Zieglers' Christmas party.  "You look great," Bill says.  "You're not even looking," Alice replies.  And she's right.  He isn't.

During the drug-influenced conversation Bill says in response to Alice's hypothetical that "I happen to be a doctor.  It's all very impersonal . . . "

That we continue to see manifestations of Alice -- women who look similar to her in hair color and hairstyle, etc, is a deliberate illustration of the continuous sexual tension swirling within the story for Bill Harford.  For example, at the Christmas party two women flirt with Bill and a man flirts with Alice.  The tension is released in a scene in front of a mirror where the naked Alice and Bill kiss while Chris Isaak's "Baby" song plays.  During the montage (over which Shostakovich's Waltz #2 plays) that includes the examination of the topless women in Bill's office, there's an edit of the naked body of Alice (third time we see her naked with her back to the camera), which is spliced in.  Alice is putting on a black bra.  The camera admires her from behind, briefly tracking up her naked body.  Like the very first shot of the film it is a warm, loving and admiring camera move and shot in contrast to the sudden, abrupt shot of the cold, stark nakedness and emptiness of the topless woman patient that Bill examines in his office and the other naked women that the camera glimpses in a crude, even mocking manner throughout "Eyes Wide Shut".

The third and final time that Dr. Bill Harford examines or comes close to touching a topless woman is when he visits the morgue to see the dead body of Mandy aka Amanda Curran (the same woman he revived during the Christmas party at the Zieglers' residence.)  Lying dead and naked on the slab of metal is Mandy, the same woman who saved Bill from sexual humiliation and a lot worse at the orgy party.  ("Let him go!  Take me!  I am ready to redeem him," she volunteers to the Red Cloak man with the snide English accent during the "sacrifice" ceremony.)  At the morgue in a disturbing scene Dr. Bill comes within a whisker of kissing the lips of Mandy, the cold, dead woman whose skin is a pale greenish color.  A light blue neck rest is visible under Mandy's neck.  ("It could cost me my life, and possibly yours," echoes her voice, as remembered in Dr. Bill Harford's mind.)

In Part Three: Rainbows, symmetry and the wrap-up of "Eyes" analysis and interpretation

Copyright The Popcorn Reel.  2009.  All Rights Reserved.

Previous: Eyes Wide Shut, part one - an interpretation


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