2017-10-30 07:47:56 UTC
I watched EWS again today, and thought I'd update/upload my colour analysis from 17 years ago (as it seems to have been purged from Google groups).
Where the rainbow ends - light and color narrative
Some thoughts while attempting to decrypt EWS...
When Nuala and Gayle tell Bill that they want to take him, “where the rainbow ends,” I assume this is their code word for the orgy circuit, which is fashioned by the Rainbow costume shop. One can surmise that an orgy was planned for later that evening and that Ziegler’s party is a meet, greet and recruit for the orgy circuit. At Ziegler’s party, the only conversations that are started up with Alice and Bill are flirtations by others for extramarital sex. This doesn’t include Bill’s talk with Nick Nightingale but, then again, Nick is most likely taken away from Bill’s company to be given the time and place for the orgy later on.
Ziegler’s environment is decorated in points of white light, and these white hanging lights also appear at the Rainbow costume shop (also notice them in one later shot of Bill facing his stalker). White is the additive balance of all colours in the visible spectrum, and symbolizes the facade of correctness and order on the infidelities of the orgy circuit. I believe Kubrick is indicating that these sparkling white lights are as much as a cloak as the black cloaks and masks used in the orgy.
The appearance of Ziegler’s white hanging lights at the Rainbow costume shop (and when Bill finally faces his stalker), also provide an association between Milich and Ziegler. By this light association, Milich is a costume supplier for the orgy circuit and must have known immediately that Dr, Bill was headed to the orgy (uninvited). Milich may have then notified Ziegler, and the orgy guests knew in advance that someone uninvited may arrive, and it would then be a matter of isolating Dr. Bill.
When Bill finally arrives at the mansion, notice the restricted color spectrum of the orgy hall - red and violet (night-blue). The visible spectrum begins at red and ends at violet. The rainbow—literally—ends at the orgy hall, and ends there to cloak the identities of those attracted to its excesses. It is too difficult to confirm with the masks (Dominos), but it seems like those masked in the initial orgy circle are the women Bill met up to that point in the film.
Throughout EWS we also find Christmas tree lights in a rainbow spectrum. I believe the multi-coloured Christmas lights symbolize home and family, as the entire film counts down to a Christmas day between parents and child. The rainbow can also end with fidelity to the family (Christmas day). Thus, two moral choices for Bill.
Domino. Christmas lights and masks are there in Domino’s bedroom. Domino is, of course, the name of a mask which conceals the face at a masquerade. Two signifiers: the mask (rainbow ends at the orgy) and Christmas lights (rainbow ends with family). By way of Kubrick’s signifiers, Domino is the link between Bill’s urge of infidelity and his return home. Bill is both connected to home (via cell phone) and returned home by Domino (by redemption at the orgy) and, therefore, Christmas lights—as well as masks—are in Domino’s bedroom.
Semiotics as narrative: The identity of the mysterious woman who redeems Bill is a critical Kubrick message. If one listens to the verbal exposition of Ziegler, Bill was redeemed by Mandy, who later (conveniently) died of an overdose. If one believes the language of light and symbol provided in the film, it indicates that Bill was redeemed by Domino; who was dealt with by the rules of the orgy circuit.
EWS’s subtext appears to be that marriage is the power of dream over sexual instinct. Bill and Alice have desires for, and are offered the choice of, infidelity. However, at the end of the film (in a toy shop on Christmas day, even) Alice and Bill have chosen to live in their constructed dream of marriage.
As an aside, Steven Spielberg mentioned in a DVD interview that Kubrick was interested in changing the form of film. This form change may be adding semiotic and colour theory narrative above both the dream subtext and straightforward narrative “story” of Eyes Wide Shut.
Story: Man seeks out extramarital affair(s) after being made jealous by his wife, but finds life better in marriage.
Subtext: Are your Eyes Wide Shut to maintain a faithful marriage? (“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards”—Benjamin Franklin)
Colour theory: Bill and Alice are lit in blue vs. amber light while in their bedroom (complimentary colours).
Semiotics: Are your eyes wide shut when listening to a story, but opened only while observing the signs?
From: s_o_keefe <***@hotmail.com>
Subject: Where the rainbow ends - light and color narrative
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revised: October 30, 2017