Filmsite Movie Review
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Pages: (1) (2) (3) (4)
The Story (continued)

The Long Island "Masked Party" Orgy: A Dream-Like Sequence

The most talked-about, notorious, often-edited controversial sequence was an extravagantly-choreographed orgy-party function (attended only by ultra-elite guests). It was a metaphoric reimagining and dream journey for Bill, mirroring a similar Christmas party at the Zieglers, although this time all the guests wore literal masks, and engaged in anonymous, depraved, ritualistic sexual copulation with strangers. Some of the characters from the Ziegler party were reinterpreted or symbolically projected into the dream-like sequence of the orgy party.

After taking a taxi to the Long Island address given to him by Nick (during the trip, he again imagined Alice in flagrante delicto with the officer), Harford found himself traveling down a deserted, wooded road to blue gates and columns marking the entrance to a large country manor.

[Note: The Masked Orgy sequence was filmed inside an actual Rothchild (a famous banking family) mansion, the Mentmore Towers in the village of Mentmore, in Buckinghamshire (UK).]

He offered the taxi driver a bonus (part of a ripped-up hundred dollar bill) to let the meter run.

[Note: In a number of instances in the film, "Doctor Bill" was able to resolve issues with either his medical ID or wads of money -- (cab fare with the taxi-driver, unconsummated services with hooker Domino, charges for his rental costume and missing mask, etc., totaling over $700 for the evening). Alice's marital attraction to him was due to his wealth and social standing, providing her with a luxurious life-style, as the Hungarian had told her.]

Harford gave the password 'Fidelio' to the gatekeeper, was allowed entry, and was driven up to the main house - an outer clock facade read 1:55 - consistent with Nick's statement that the gig began at 2 am. Bill was the only participant to arrive by taxi - everyone else had driven private cars or were chauffeured in limousines. After entering immense doors with lion door knockers, inside the mansion's vestibule, he again presented his password to a gold-masked man, donned his mask, and then strode forward into the main room.

The central function included a Black Mass - with Satanic-like incantations by the party's host - a crimson-cloaked high-priest Master of Ceremonies (Leon Vitali) in the middle of a "magic circle" of black-cloaked figures.

Blue Gates to Mansion

Driven to Front Entry

Donning Mask
The Ritualistic Ceremony in Progress

Solemn organ music that was played by white-tuxedoed Nick, with his back to the proceedings, was accompanied by ritualistic chanting. Although blindfolded, Nick was centered below one of the cavernous room's spotlights.

[Note: On the soundtrack, Backwards Priests (aka Masked Ball), arranged by Jocelyn Pook, was heard - it was a Romanian Orthodox Divine Liturgy played backwards. The inverted rendition represented its Satanic and black magic sources.]

The eleven black-draped figures in the center spotlight were surrounded by other faceless, masked onlookers on the main floor and on an upper balcony. When the figures dropped or shed their black outer veils or cloak-garments (similar to Alice's unveiling in the title sequence), they revealed themselves to be naturally-endowed, almost-nude, G-stringed masked females with black thongs. The voluptuous females were there to ritualistically display their nakedness. None of the onlooking men showed any flesh or skin. The masked females knelt in an inner circle and passed around a kiss. During the ritual, a gray-masked male in the balcony looked down at Harford and nodded at him during a reciprocal exchange of recognition.

Ritualistic "Magic Circle" of Masked Females With Thongs
Kneeling and Passing a Kiss
"Masked" Guests at the Orgy

Bill Harford - Masked

Venetian-Masked Observers on Main Floor

Gray-Masked Figure With a Tri-Cornered Hat on the Balcony Looked Down at Harford in Attendance

A masked party principal (known in the credits as a Mysterious Woman) (Abigail Good), identified with a large dark blue feathered headdress, was the 5th female to be signaled to leave the circle of 11, indicated each time by a tap from the red-cloaked high-priest's staff on the red carpeted floor. Each exiting female selected a black-cloaked and masked onlooker to pair up with - to service in anonymity and isolation. The mannequin-like female strode over to the masked Harford, gave him a soulless, ritualized and dehumanized kiss, and then led him down a red-carpeted hallway-corridor. The red-cloaked Master of Ceremonies had undoubtedly paired up Harford with her. [Note: In the corridor, the next nude female escort was wearing a mask ringed with black stripes. She would soon appear again in a subsequent scene to entice Harford, but her body would shape-shift.]

The Mysterious Masked Woman with Blue Head-dress

Harford Selected by Mysterious Woman

Sterile and Soulless Kiss

Mysterious Woman with Blue Headress

Behind them, the Black-Stripe Masked Woman

Interrupted and Mysterious Woman Was Taken Away

The Mysterious Woman seemed to recognize him and then cautioned: "I'm not sure what you think you're doing. But you don't belong here...Please, don't be foolish. You must go now." Without identifying herself ("It doesn't matter who I am"), she cautioned further about the dangerous situation that his sexual desires had led him to: "You are in great danger. You must get away while there's still a chance." The unidentified woman was interrupted and taken by one of the masked leaders. She was escorted away and led up a long staircase - leaving Bill free to explore further.

The next sequence included tracking shots of Harford roaming through the ornate mansion's rooms filled with emotionless, depraved, loveless copulating couples (in mechanical and sterile stances of intercourse - front and rear entry, also a 69 sexual position, and a lesbian three-some, while many participants passively and voyeuristically watched). The only movements in the static images were thrusting, mechanical motions of fornication.

The Controversial Orgy Scene

[Note: The sexually-explicit images were digitally censored, obscured and obstructed (cloaked with computer-generated people) in various releases by Warner Bros. to prevent an NC-17 rating. The severe, unnecessary editing angered some American audiences.]

An unidentified all-nude female, the one from the corridor with a black-striped mask, was led by the gray-masked reveler from the balcony (who earlier nodded in recognition to Harford) into a room where Harford stood alone. He signaled with a nod for her to join Harford for a good time. Two "twins' sat together motionless behind Harford. [Note: The "twins" possibly represented the two models-prostitutes who flirted with Harford at the Ziegler party, and were probably procured by Nick to entice Harford. The Black-Striped Masked Female herself was a doppelganger for the Mysterious Woman.] She asked Harford: "Have you been enjoying yourself?" She then propositioned him for sex: "Do you want to go somewhere a little more private?" He agreed: "That might be a good idea."

Sexual Procurement by the Gray-Masked Reveler from Balcony (Who Recognized Harford with a Nod)
The Two "Twins"

A Signal to the Near-Identical Doubling Effect
Gray-Masked Figure With Tri-Cornered Hat Entered Room With Naked Black-Striped Masked Female (With Hair Pulled Back and Diamond-Shaped Pubic Hair) Where Harford Was Standing Alone - She Was Signaled With a Nod to Walk Over to Harford

[Note: Keen observers have noted that when the Gray-Masked figure first entered, he was accompanied by the Black-Striped Masked Female with her dark hair pulled back behind her shoulders and with neat, diamond-shaped pubic hair. But then after a cutaway, another female was substituted in - her hair was now draped over her shoulders, and her pubic hair was in an inverted triangular shape. With a nod, she was encouraged to step over to Harford's side - and she complied. But then with another cutaway angle, when she temptingly turned to him and asked: "Have you been enjoying yourself?...Do you want to go somewhere a little more private?", her hair was again back. In the next shot as the Mysterious Woman walked in (without a black thong), she revealed an inverted pubic hair pattern!). Either there were major continuity errors, or she was a deliberately shape-shifting, interchangeable character!]

Harford's Sexual Temptation

Hair Draped Forward
After Cutaway --
Hair Draped Over Shoulders, Pubic Hair Inverted Triangle Shape
Another Cutaway: Black-Striped Masked Partygoer Next to Harford (Now With Hair Back and Different Pubic Hair): "Have you been enjoying yourself?...Do you want to go somewhere a little more private?"

Harford and the nude Black-Striped Masked female were interrupted by the second appearance of the Mysterious Woman (now also completely naked - with the inverted, triangular pubic hair pattern!) who asked: "May I borrow him for just a few minutes?" - she led Harford away, while promising to return him in a few minutes. In private - in blue light, she again warned him about more danger:

I don't think you realize the danger you're in now. You can't fool them for much longer. You've got to get away before it's too late.

Repeated Warnings of Danger

Mysterious Woman: "May I borrow him for just a few minutes?"

"I don't think you realize the danger you're in now. You can't fool them for much longer. You've got to get away before it's too late."

- "Why are you telling me this?"
- "It doesn't matter."
- "Who are you?"

- "You don't want to know. But you must go, now!..because it could cost me my life, and possibly yours"

When he asked: "Why are you telling me this?" and then wanted to know her identity ("Who are you?"), she mysteriously responded: "It doesn't matter...You don't want to know. But you must go, now!" When he suggested that they leave together, she refused (with the same words Alice used to reject the older Hungarian man, showing some commonality): "That's impossible...because it could cost me my life and possibly yours." She wouldn't allow him to remove her mask, and then ran off after telling him one more time: "Go!" The faint sounds of "Strangers in the Night" played on the soundtrack.

Harford's trespassing as an interloper was revealed when he was asked to accompany one of the ushers to the front entry to speak to his taxi-driver. Simultaneously, Nick was being guided from the building, weaving his way through dancing couples (lesbian and heterosexual) in various states of undress. Harford was actually brought before the entire black-garbed court in the main room, where he was asked to step forward. He soon became encircled by all of the participants. Standing on either side of the seated Master of Ceremonies (on a throne with double-eagles topped by a crown - a symbol of the highest degree attainable by Freemasons) were two figures in blue violet robes - possibly representing the two young models at Ziegler's party, who had offered Bill the 'end of the rainbow.'

[Note: A significant fact - a rainbow's spectrum of colors begins with red, and ends with violet.]

From here on, the perspective was from Bill's own threatened POV, as he was assaulted and intimidated by rapid-cut views of hideous, contorted facial masks staring back at him. Curiously, his black cape now had a bluish-purplish tinge to it - a signifier of danger.

The Master of Ceremonies (Leon Vitali) (Flanked by Two Figures in Violet Robes)

Bill Unmasked

Master of Ceremonies

When asked, Harford did not know the second password - a separate one designated for the house. He was ordered to remove his mask (to become literally completely revealed, shamed or nakedly vulnerable) by the mysterious red cloaked Master of Ceremonies: "You will kindly remove your mask." Harford held his mask to his chest. And then he was shocked when sternly asked to continue disrobing and remove all of his clothes - for a mass rape? ("Remove your clothes, or would you like us to do it for you?"). The Mysterious Woman (up on the second floor balcony) called out - as the camera rapidly zoomed toward her statuesque figure:

Stop! Let him go! Take me! I am ready to redeem him.

The Sacrifice of the Mysterious Woman
Before a Blue Background (Signifying Danger):
"Let him go! Take me!"

Her offer of redemption and sacrifice to him was necessitated because of her symbolic association with Mandy, whom he had assisted and saved from death in Ziegler's bathroom. In Harford's reinterpretation of the Ziegler party, he imagined that the Mysterious Woman at the orgy party represented Mandy whom he had rescued - and now she was rescuing him. The assemblage gasped at her words. The Mysterious Woman was warned of the fateful consequences of her sacrifice: "Are you sure you understand what you're taking upon yourself in doing this?" She sacrificially volunteered herself to be punished, tortured, and abused instead of Harford.

[Note: Her redemptive sacrifice was possibly staged as a charade or scare tactic.]

After she answered "Yes!", Harford was freed. He was warned to keep everything he had witnessed a secret (similar to Ziegler's cautionary advice earlier about Mandy's OD):

You are free. But I warn you. If you make any further inquiries or if you say a single word to anyone about what you have seen, there will be the most dire consequences for you and your family. Do you understand?

Bill was worried about the fate of the helpful, masked rogue reveler - he looked up at her and watched as she was led away by a figure with a bird-mask (with a scythe-like beak). He asked: "What is gonna happen to that woman?" but his concerns were dismissed: "No one can change her fate now. When a promise has been made here, there is no turning back." He was ordered to leave ("Go!"), and presumably taken to his awaiting taxi. He would spend the remainder of the film trying to piece together what had happened to him and make sense of his entire fever-dream.

Returning Home to Alice's Similar Nightmarish Dream of a Sexual Adventure

When Bill returned home a little after 4 am, he entered his apartment's blue door, and looked in on his daughter Helena's blue-tinged room. He strode into the living room (blue light also shone in from the outside) and his office before he found Alice sleeping in their blue-tinted bedrooom. She was giggling and laughing to herself before awakening - clearly enjoying her repressed dream about betraying and humiliating her husband.

Blue Door to Harfords' NYC Apartment (Outside Were Blue Hallway Walls)

Their Blue-Tinged Bedroom, Signifying Danger
Alice's Horrifying Lewd Nightmare

But then upon opening her eyes, she said that she had experienced the exact opposite - a weird and "horrible dream" -- it was her allegorical reinterpretation of both the Ziegler party and of their pot-stoned conversation. She described, in symbolic terms alluding to the Judeo-Christian myth of the fall and redemption of man, about how she had been left alone in an unfamiliar setting and was "naked," "terrified," and "ashamed." She had become "angry" as a result of seeing husband Bill flirting with other females. In the dream, she and Bill were emotionally naked and vulnerable, but then she felt "different" and "wonderful" when left alone in a "beautiful garden" - and was free to receive attention from interested males (the suave Hungarian man - and the "naval officer").

We were in a deserted city and our clothes were gone. We were naked and I was terrified and I felt ashamed. Oh, God. And I was angry because I thought it was your fault. You rushed away to go 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 - he was the man from the hotel, the one I told you about. The naval officer. He - he stared at me and then he just laughed. He just laughed at me....

She paused and then cried a bit. When Bill became curious about what happened next (the 'end' of the dream), she was reluctant to divulge her sexual promiscuity ("it's too awful") - revealing herself as a high-class wife-prostitute. As she hugged Bill, she confessed how her love-making turned into an orgy, and she became promiscuously intimate with multiple partners. Then, she vengefully "laughed" at her husband - the same way she had earlier laughed in disbelief at his naivete:

He was kissing me and then we were making love. Then there were all these other people around us, hundreds of them, everywhere. Everyone was f--king. And then I-I was f--king other men. So many I-I don't know how many I was with. And I knew you could see me in the arms of all these men, just f--king all these men. And I wanted to make fun of you, to laugh in your face. And so I laughed as loud as I could. That must have been when you woke me up.

Alice's Resemblances to Doomed Hookers: Mandy and Domino
(Prostitute Parallels in Colors and Dialogue)


Mandy, Domino, and Alice Were All Tall Redheads
Alice's Dream: ("Just F--king All These Men"), and Mandy's Death: (Victor to Bill: "She got her brains f--ked out, period!")
Both Alice and Mandy Were Drug Users (Pot/Speedball); Domino Acquired HIV, and Mandy OD'd
Domino's Purple Dress and Alice's Purple Shirt (Voice-over: "I was F--king Other Men") and Alice's Purple Nightgown in Her Purplish Bedroom
Harford's Office: Picture of Red-Headed Helena in Purple Dress, and at Toy Store: Helena in a Dark Purple Coat

Revisiting Places From His Previous Wanderings: Daytime

Entering an investigative mode the next day in the daylight, Bill found himself stifled and frustrated at every turn - with ominous overtones. Now in the light of day, Bill became much more concerned - and confused - about his own immoral behavior, the consequences of his id-like desires, and the dangers he had placed himself in (with others), especially after attending the masked party, and the elusiveness of everything:


Sonata Cafe
The Sonata Cafe was closed-up and gated.

Gillespie's Cafe

Next door in Gillespie's Cafe, the tie-wearing waitress (Carmela Marner) mentioned, in a vague and closed manner, that she had become acquainted with Nick Nightingale; Bill lied about how he had important results of Nick's medical tests, in order to learn the name of Nick's hotel.

Note the tune playing on the soundtrack, the Del-Vets singing: "I Want a Boy For Christmas" - with the lyrics: "I want one who can shimmy and one who can twist, and one who can thrill me with one kiss."

Hotel Jason
At the front desk of Hotel Jason, he learned from the overly-friendly homosexual desk clerk (Alan Cumming) that the piano-player Nick had abruptly checked out from his room early that morning at 5 am. There were "strange" circumstances surrounding his departure. When he first arrived at 4:30 am, he was accompanied by two "big guys." It was entirely possible that Nightingale had been beaten ("They were very well-dressed and very well-spoken. But they weren't the kind of people you'd like to fool around with, if you know what I mean. Anyways, uh, I noticed Mr. Nightingale had a bruise on his cheek, and uhm, to be perfectly honest, I also thought he looked a little scared."). Nick went up to his room with one of the men, while the second man remained in the lobby and settled Nightingale's bill. As he left, Nightingale tried to pass an envelope to the clerk, but was disallowed. Any future mail or messages for Nick were to be "collected by someone properly authorized to do so." Afterwards, Nightingale was taken away in a car by the men.

Rainbow Fashions Costume Shop
Bill returned his tuxedo, cloak and shoes at the Rainbow Fashions Costume Shop, but had misplaced his mask, and was charged an extra $25, resulting in a total bill of $375. Everything had changed from the night before - the police hadn't been notified of child abuse. Bill learned that the underaged daughter had in fact spent a hedonistic night with the two Japanese men, and that her father (dressed in blue) had encouraged her and promoted it. Bill became upset that Mr. Milich even obliquely and amorally pimped her sexual services in the future to him ("the good doctor") with this phrase: "Things change. We have come to another arrangement. And by the way, if the good doctor himself should ever want anything again, anything at all, it needn't be a costume."

Medical Office
In his medical office, Bill cancelled his two afternoon appointments.

Gates of Mansion

He drove his Range Rover to the Long Island orgy-mansion, but the gates were locked and entry was disallowed. He looked up anxiously at a security surveillance camera that followed his movements. A bespectacled, white-haired elderly gentleman, who was driven up in a vehicle, handed him an envelope (addressed to Dr. William Harford) through the blue iron gates with a typewritten note inside - it had a stern warning:


That evening after returning home, Bill walked in on Alice who was helping Helena with her math homework. He lied to her, claimed he wanted dinner earlier, and falsely alleged that he had some late-night office appointments. As he watched Alice from the kitchen, he realized how angelic, intelligent (with her glasses) and motherly she was, although just a few hours earlier, she had portrayed a prostitute-whore in her nightmare dream who was making love to hundreds of men. In voice-over, he heard her repeat her rendition of the dream, as she smiled at him:

And there were all these other people around us. Hundreds of them, everywhere. Everyone was f--king. And then I-I was f--king other men. So many I don't know how many I was with.

Seated in his own doctor's office, Bill was still haunted by another blue-tinged image of Alice passionately f--king the naval officer.

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