Alice's initial dream is with the Hungarian, a dreamy Prince Charming who completely engrooses Kidman. (Does she feel the same for this man as the Naval Officer? Is she literally tearing herself from this dream?) Kidman, after a dance with the Hungarian, seems to "snap" out of it, waking from her dream. Meanwhile, Cruise is off on his own dreamscape, being enticed by two lovely models promising to take him to the "Rainbow's End." Cruise, like Kidman, is jostled from his dream and told to go upstairs to meet the host of the party, Ziegler. Kubrick here brings the lighting and atmosphere to a brutal reality of sterile lighting -- an obvious departure from the dreams downstairs. We find Ziegler in a giant bathroom with a naked woman who has overdosed. This scene jolts Harford and Ziegler "awake."
Each encounter on Harford's journey are like individual, encapsulated dreams. In the costume shop, Milich allows Harford into the dream like a gatekeeper. Once inside, the shop iscolored like a dream. Even the Asian men partaking in Milich's "lolita-esque" daugher appear in ridiculous makeup making them appear as characters made up by the minds eye. (Harford's return to the costume shop shows us the same Asian men without makeup and Milich being acceptant of the circumstances with his daugher...a brutal splash of cold water on the dreamscape that *seemed* to exist there only 24 hours before.
All the dreams lead up to most wonderful scene in *any* Kubrick film -- the masked ball. Straight out of Schnitzler's novella, the masked ball was truly a tremendous vision that Kubrick carried with him for decades. From the wonderful music by Jocelyn Pook to the entrancing chants and the scary-exquiste masks, the scene is one to watch over and over again. The great achievement is Kubrick did this without words, only music, imagery, and atmosphere. When the masked woman takes him in the hall, attempting to shake him from his dream, we hear "Strangers in the Night" which is ironic given the circumstances and attempts to ground Harford (and the audience).
**Note about the digitally added figures. I think it is a disgrace. The characters were SO obvious it nearly ruined one of the greatest scenes I have ever seen. I believe that Kubrick DID NOT approve such ludicrous alterations. I just can't see Kubrick giving the OK to use what looked like cardboard cutouts backlighted to make certain body parts unseen. It was and is a disgrace.
Harford comes home to learn of another erotic dream of Alice's. Alice has dreamed of giving herself to multiple men while laughing at Bill. Something that distresses both of them. Here Kubrick is delving into the psychology of Schnitzler which no analysis here will take apart thoroughly.
While Bill's dreams are daydreams, Alice's are unconscious dreams. Is there a difference? Since Bill never actually has sex, is there a distinction? Both are obsessed with sex and both are jealous of each other.
The ending in the toy store seems a bit un-Kubrick in that it neatly ties a bow on the film. Surprisingly, Kubrick stayed honest to Schnitzler's novel in this way. Kubrick even went as far as using the same dialogue from Traumnovelle:
"Just as sure as I am that the reality of one night,
let alone that of a whole lifetime, is not the whole
"And no dream is entirely a dream."
Even Zielger's character, which was added to the origianl material, seemed to tidy things up a bit at the end. Tying loose ends and telling the audience what to believe. Or did he? Are we to believe this Ziegler character? I certainly don't.
Thank you Stanley. The fact that the so-called sex romp between the Cruises that everyone thought would continue well past the ShoWest clip, in fact, was it. Kubrick cuts at exactly that same point as in the clip. Beautiful.
The choice in music was exceptional. From the opening waltz to Ligeti's haunting percussive piano piece, to the astounding chanting of Pook's masked ball, the music was definitive Kubrick.
While I must see this film again (and again) and continue disect it, EWS is a stunning, thought provoking, wild trip with good performances by all involved. The true star here is Kubrick, however, and as the end credits rolled, I sat remembering after being awakened from my EWS voyage, that I have witnessed the final work.
Thank you Stanley Kubrick.
Kubrick Multimedia Film Guide