Identification of The Enchanted Hunters Hotel in Lolita and an Optical Illusion

Go to Table of Contents of the analysis (which has also a statement on purpose and manner of analysis and a disclaimer as to caveat emptor and my knowing anything authoritatively, which I do not, but I do try to not know earnestly, with some discretion, and considerable thought).


Hurrah! The Movie District has identified the Enchanted Hunters Hotel, in Lolita, by way of a James Cannon. It is The Orchard on Ickenham Road in Ruislip, England.

Lolita

Now to take a look at the perhaps "why" of this location. I have already covered in the analysis how we see, in shot 287 of the hotel, that it has the same partial timber frame construction as the Haze household.

Lolita

Here is a view of the Haze household in shot 71.

Lolita

Below is the house that was used for the Haze household.

Lolita

Ruislip Online has a nice page on the History of The Orchard, which operated from 1933 to 1977 under the Ansells family. There are some nice images there, some comments, and an old news article from the time of the closing of The Orchard, and from these were learn that the place was indeed as swank as Lolita said it to be (though a different interior was used). Though it's largely referred to as a restaurant, some older pictures reveal that it was once a hotel as well.

Kubrick does sometimes appear to use numbers as such a discreet subtext that no one is going to know what's going on except for Kubrick. For an example of this look at A Brief Primer on Stanley Kubrick's Counting of Shots in His Films. Sometimes he appears to do this with a choice of place. The Orchard is located on B466 (Ickenham Road) and as Kubrick had a subtext of 64 in Day of the Fight and does sometimes employ permutation of numbers, one could wonder if he was attracted to the address due the 64. Another possible is that The Orchard is in Ruislip which has since the late 1950s has had a war memorial there to Polish airmen who served in the Royal Air Force during WWII. The names of Poles who died in the war are inscribed on the memorial, originally 1243, to which hundreds more were added in the 1990s. Kubrick has 242, a number he often uses, as the address for the Haze household and the room number in which Humbert and Lolita stay at the Enchanted Hunters Hotel (The Orchard), but what was Nabokov's original number? 342 was Nabokov's number for the Haze household and the hotel room.

The Orchard is intimate enough, through its history, with these Polish airmen that the restaurant now has its own memorial to them.

What especially caught my eye was over on the right hand side of the article was a two-face illusion, which struck me as I've written of how Kubrick subtly uses these illusions in his films, including Lolita. The article reveals,

Then there were the puzzles on each table for you to exercise your mind with -- the curious lady that contains two faces in one (reproduced below right), and another more difficult which recommends you consult your waiter for explanation.

Lolita

I have discussed at length in The Shining and already in Lolita in the case of the Drome poster in Lollita's bedroom, my belief that Kubrick uses forms of these dominance-shift puzzles in his work.

Lolita

As I note in the analysis, if you pay attention to it, the Drome poster may leave you scratching your head as certain parts don't immediately (or ever) make sense. Which isn't right for an ad. People may occasionally talk about hidden subtext in ads, but they should foremost have a very clear surface story. This one kind of appears to but doesn't. We see Quilty before a typewriter, the cigarette box to the side, but he also appears to be simply surrounded by a floaty melange of disconnected objects, some of which don't make sense to the eye.

Kubrick has a poster in The Shining that everyone was always debating whether it was a basketball player (or some such) seen from the rear or front.

sh_poster

It eventually occurred to me that Kubrick was employing something like the Spinning Dancer illusion, where you can see an image from both perspectives, so you have two ways of viewing it.

sh_figureillusion

This occurs in the same section in which Danny sees the twins in the hall. All other times he has seen the twins, the girl on screen left has her hand/arm in a handclasp over that of the girl on the right. Below is how he views them in the mirror in the Boulder apartment bathroom.

The Shining - The two girls as viewed in the bathroom scene

The two images below are briefly viewed as Danny looks at the number of Room 237 after finding its doors locked. Again, the girl on screen left is the dominant one, her arm crossed over the other's.

sh_doorgirls1

sh_doorgirls2

The dominant girl reverses only when Danny is himself in the flowered hall and sees his final vision of them. Instead, the girl on the right consistently has her arm over that of the the girl on the left. Dominance has changed.

These shots have been staged so that they are, otherwise, almost exactly the same. The placement of the girls in the hall is the same, and even their skirts measure about the same distance from the walls. Their unlinked arms are almost but not quite exactly the same, positioned ever so slightly different, but the print of the wallpaper behind their figures and how it relates to their outlines is an exact match. Their hair, however, in this final vision, is different. The girl on the left, previously, has hair that is slightly frizzy at the ends, while the other girl's hair is curled. The situation is now reversed, the girl on the left has the hair that is curled at the ends, and the other girl's hair is not.

The Shining - And ever

My take on the Drome poster, especially after listening to the perspectives of other individuals, is we have a Lolita version of what occurs with the poster on the door of the telephone room in The Shining, and the eye has several ways of trying to make out what is occurring in the picture because of the staged ambiguity and the different ways of perceiving dominance (what is before and what is behind).

One of the individuals with whom I was discussing this, Brien Engel, cropped the image and when it was cropped I saw we then have in the shadows one of Quilty's alternate (put on) personalities appear.

Lolita

With that crop, the poster now shows Quilty as the psychologist who will visit Humbert at Beardsley.

Lolita

The "two faces" dominance game showing alternatively the old and young woman may also remind of Jack's experience in room 237. He kisses a young woman he believes he's seen rise out of the bathtub, but when he observes their reflection in a mirror what he sees changes and the young woman becomes an old woman. A shift somewhat like this happens in Lolita, for when Humbert has sex with Charlotte he imagines Lolita, whose portrait is beside their bed. Later, it's clearly stated in the book that when Humbert later visits the pregnant Lolita, he can see Charlotte in her. "Gracefully, in a blue mist, Charlotte Haze rose from her grave."

It may be odd, that I would consider that The Orchard's having the "two faces" game at their tables may have contributed to Kubrick's choice of that restaurant as a location. But, yes. I've written enough about Kubrick's playing with images that can be read multiple ways that when I saw that "two faces" image with the article on The Orchard it fit too beautifully.

I wonder what was the puzzle that was difficult enough one might have to ask the waiter for the solution.


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