An In-depth Shot-by-shot Analysis of Stanley Kubrick's Lolita -- Table of Contents
Are you one of the league who find Kubrick's cinema fascinating and wonderful but are also confused by seeming peculiarities? Are you certain those often under-the-radar-over-the-head weirdnesses must mean something? Or maybe you're just curious?
Well, I am the person who "discovered" the open door opposite Room 237 (and a lot more besides) so if you're looking for Kubrick high strangeness then you've come to the right place. But if I delve into the high strangeness, the oddities are simply a component part of analyzing the themes and ideas that Kubrick carries from film to film.
Here's my request. That you, please, think in terms of art with intention, which isn't conspiracy and has nothing to do with conspiracy theories. Would you think of music composed of unspoken themes as being conspiracy? What's difficult is teasing out the artist's conscious intention as versus accidental as versus the viewer's role as an active pilgrim walking the road that art provides to accessing the unconscious and mythic archetypes. As an author and artist, I know what it is to hope for at least a few such pilgrims, confident they are the minority, that most think in terms of being only entertained, and to attempt to compose for both. Even with those who are just wanting a good story, or who want to dissect a film for practical good-cinema purposes, the majority would likely admit that it is the inherent mystery in Kubrick's films that functions as their primary gravity. It is that sense of something deeper, a subterranean coherence that provides the glue, that compels individuals to return and perhaps begin to move, without their even realizing it, from a passive state into a more active, participatory role where art becomes a transformative experience rather than just visual popcorn.
Note on method of analysis and a kind of disclaimer:
For the real film buff, I've gone through and listed shots, images from each, and length of time of shots. Because I raised myself on the old Evergreen Black Cat cinema books which took pains to do the same and loved studying them. And because that is the only way to really begin to do a good, involved analysis of Kubrick's films, which are very complex internally and in their relationships as an oeuvre.
Kubrick's films elicit a lot of whys and wherefores,"What does this mean?", because he included so many seeming puzzles inviting review, mysteries that demanded second and third notice, editing quirks and both subtle and obvious shifts in staging. My analyses haven't much to do with the psychology, but look at Kubrick's choices of stories, music, places he filmed, staging, the differences between the literature and the script that made it onto celluloid and how he chose to edit it all together, carrying themes from film to film, and based on these elements I dip into a variety of possible influences. But, of course, I do not know for certain about any of my insights, and I could very well be in error from beginning to end. So, please keep in mind I make no claim on knowing anything but that art should never be dissected like this and I apologize to Stanley for being a cinema heathen, well, except for the fact that I believe Stanley constructed his films for spelunking, forfollowing the clues in the maze, so no apologies really are necessary.
My suggestion, if you're really interested in studying the films, is to start with my analysis of 2001. You will be glad for it as an introduction.
Link to the main Kubrick page for all the analyses.
One.....(1-63, about 12:18)
Two.....(64-166, about 44:19)
Three.....(167-264, about 1:09:44)
Four.....(265-344, about 1:38:28)
Five.....(345-405, about 2:00:25)
Six.....(406-462, about 2:07:30)
The Problems with Discussing Lolita
Identifying the Portrait in Lolita and Examining its Relationship to Nabokov's "The Vane Sisters" and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. This is updated in the below post, "Portrait of Lolita, an Analysis of the Shooting of the George Romney Painting"
Portrait of "Lolita", an Analysis of the Shooting of the George Romney Painting. This is in three sections and incorporates material from the post on the identification of the painting. Discussion on the male gaze, associated and possible films and stories referenced. Good for understanding the film's representation of Lolita.
The Deceptive Layout of the Haze and Beardsley Households in Lolita, How the Deception Occurs, and When We are Awakened to the Deception. The initial exterior shots guide how we view the interior studio sets, the layouts of which are different from what we believe we are seeing.
How Shot 306 in The Shining Duplicates Shot 230 in Lolita, and How Shot 237 in Lolita, Intimately Connected with Charlotte's Death and Room 237 in The Shining, is (Perhaps) Connected with Hitchcock's Psycho
Shot 67 of Lolita and The Why of the Choice of Dover as an Establishing Shot for the Location of Ramsdale (The Story of the Caged Starling), Essential to understanding Lolita as the caged bird, and her relationship to the idea of the maze in the film
Location Shots 66 and 69, From Westerly, RI, to Dover, NH, and Back to Westerly
Location of the Toll Gate in Shot 266
Location of the Ferry in Shot 267
Lolita Green Screen Location Shots 271-285 – Guess What, When They're on Their Way to the Enchanted Hunters Hotel They're in South Dakota
Unexpected Lolita Locations - Identifying the Black Hills Cafe and the Badlands of South Dakota (We Are Not in the Southwest)
Identification of The Enchanted Hunters Hotel in 'Lolita' and an Optical Illusion
On Shot 464, Lolita, Richmond, Virginia, and Edgar Allan Poe
Partition Street Location, Viewed Driving on the Way to the Pregnant Lo's House, in Shot 467
The Coincidence (it is just that) of Nabokov's Ape and Kubrick's Monkey
The Showgirl as Walter Cartier's Counterpart and Her Relationship to Killer's Kiss, and influences perhaps on Lolita
A Brief Primer on Kubrick Counting Shots in His Films