KUBRICK'S LOLITA
A SHOT-BY-SHOT ANALYSIS
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

For the 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 I felt I could really begin to do a good, involved analysis of Kubrick's films, which are very complex internally, and also all the films being related to one another.

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.

Links Below to Sections on this Page:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
An In-depth Shot-b-Shot Analysis of Kubrick's Lolita. Links to sections.
Supplemental posts
Notes on the Analyses (Disclaimer)


TOC and Supplemental Posts | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Films Home

An In-depth Shot-by-shot Analysis of Kubrick's Lolita - The Sections

PART ONE.....(1-63, about 12:18)

Prologue. Shot 1. Rachmaninoff and James Mason in The Seventh Veil.
At Long Last, Humbert Finds Quilty. Shots 2 through 63.
Shots are commented on in the section. Remarks on the entry, on comparing the entry to the end of The Shining. On ping-pong and Captain Love. Quilty as magician. Brewster. Some set changes such as replacing a Shakespeare bust with that of a woman. People as furniture and A Clockwork Orange.
Comparing Kubrick with Nabokov
The Portrait. Further elaborated on in Portrait of Lolita, an Analysis of the Shooting of the George Romney Painting
Location
Cycles. The beginnings and endings of Kubrick's films.
The Romney Portrait, the Statue of the Spartan Warrior and the Woman, the Statue with the Shoe, the Harp, that Table Tennis Game, and the Swapping of Shakespeare for the Bust of Ariadne who Provided the Clue for the Minotaur's Maze
On Quilty, Nabokov, and Vivian Darkbloom. An exmination of Quilty's and Vivian Darkbloom's names.
The Enlarged Role of Vivian Darkbloom and Fate
July 4th, Spartacus, and The Shining
On Mazes and Minotaurs
From 2000, Some Thoughts I First Wrote on Lolita. In which James Mason and Shelley Winters beat Lucy and Desi into the ground with baseball bats, then hop up and down upon their comedic graves. - Clare Quilty, The Chair - Into the New World, an Old World Refugee - The Monster Emerges - The Great Partner Swap - Don't Forget Me - A Case of the Asiatic Flu - The Mother ^

PART TWO.....(64-166, about 44:19)

4 Years Earlier, Shot 64
Counting shots with Kubrick. Linking Lolita and Day of the Fight via chess.
Humbert Arrives in Ramsdale, Shots 65 through 71
Location: Westerly
Location: Dover
Humbert Takes a Room in the Haze Household, Shots 72 through 82
A Problem with Discussing Kubrick's Lolita
Humbert Takes a Room, Differences Between Kubrick and Nabokov in this Section
Harold Haze
The Curse of Frankenstein, Shots 83 through 93
Frankenstein at the Drive-In, Differences Between Kubrick and Nabokov in this Section
Why Frankenstein?
The Chess Game, Shot 94
The Chess Game, Comparing Nabokov to Kubrick
Humbert is photographed, Shot 95
Humbert is photographed, Comparing Nabokov to Kubrick
The School Dance, Shots 96 through 120
The School Dance, Comparing Nabokov to Kubrick
Doubles and the Farlows
The (Presumably) Golden Goose
A Cozy Little Dinner for Two, Shots 121 through 136
A Cozy Little Dinner for Two, Comparing Nabokov to Kubrick
Cat Woman
On MA and the Hand and the Quill
Breakfast with the Divine Edgar, Shots 137 through 152
Breakfast with Edgar, Comparing Nabokov with Kubrick
Two-fold Natures, Twists and Turns
Punctuating, Again, the Idea of the Eternal Return and Deja Vu
Dim, Mid and Ma'am
A Glorious Surprise, Shots 153 through 166
Surprise, Comparing Nabokov and Kubrick
The Sweets
The Lamps

PART THREE.....(167-264, about 1:09:44)

A Proposal, Shots 167 through 182
A Proposal, Comparing Nabokov with Kubrick
The Mexican Screen
Humbert and the Teddy Bear
The Bull and the Matador
The Tokyo Poster
The Drome Poster
A Rainy Day, Shots 183 through 244
A Rainy Day, Comparing Nabokov to Kubrick
Re-examining Shots 230 Through 237 and Linkage to The Shining
That Poodle the Car Swerves to Avoid and Hits Charlotte Instead
Taking a Second Look at the Haze House
Location of the Haze House
Circularity, Coincidence and 242
Forever
The Interruption
MA
The Column
The Postal Box
42Q
Always Darkest Before the Dawn, Shots 245 through 264
The Dawn, Comparing Nabokov to Kubrick
Kidneys and Eggs
Inundation
The Shadow Behind the Curtain
More on Nabokov's Doubling
Humbert was Perfectly Capable of Intercourse with Eve, but it was Lilith He Longed For
The Birth of Lolita and its Relationship to Lilith
Charlotte and Shelly Winters

PART FOUR.....(265-344, about 1:38:28)

Camp Climax, Shots 265 through 270
Climax, Nabokov as Compared to Kubrick
The Butterflies as a Reference to Nabokov
Locations, Toll Gate and Ferry.
She Hasn't Been Feeling Very Well, Shots 271 through 286
Not Feeling Well, Comparing Nabokov with Kubrick
Briceland
Location, the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Kubrick's Deja Vu in Green Screens
Location of the Enchanted Hunters Hotel
The Enchanted Hunters Hotel, Shots 287 through 297
The Enchanted Hunters Hotel, Comparing Nabokov with Kubrick
Mr. Swine
The Enchanted
She'll Divorce You and Strangle Me, Shots 298 through 302
She'll Divorce You, Comparing Nabokov with Kubrick
Just Two Normal Guys Talking, Shots 303 through 319
Just Two Normal Guys, Comparing Nabokov with Kubrick
Slapstick with the Cot in Room 242, Shots 320 through 331
Slapstick, Comparing Nabokov with Kubrick
Why the Slapstick
Two Women and a Man Disguised as a Woman
The Game, Shots 332 through 334
The Game, Comparing Nabokov with Kubrick
Society's Absolution of Humbert
The Cot
Visually Tying in the Haze 242 Home with the Enchanted Hunters Hotel and Room 242
A Squashed Cat, Shots 335 through 340
A Squashed Cat, Comparing Nabokov to Kubrick
The Blarney Stone and Trips to the Underworld and an Anticipation of Lolita Keening for Charlotte
Gaslight Village Vows, Shots 341 through 344
Gaslight Village Vows, Comparing Nabokov to Kubrick
Why Gaslight Village
Weird Piedmont, South Dakota and Gaslight Village Coincidence
Is That a Tennis Ball?

PART FIVE.....(345-405, about 2:00:25)

Beardsley and Painting Lolita's Toenails, Shots 345 through 366
Beardsley, Nabokov as Compared to Kubrick
The Painting of Elvira by Modigliani
The Painting of the Toenails
The Real True Reality
The Psychologist, Shots 367 through 395
The Psychologist, Comparing Nabokov and Kubrick
The Index Cards
Looking at the Beardsley Layout and its Fase 90 Degree Turn
The Drome Poster and Quilty
The School Play - The Hunted Enchanters, Shots 396 through 399
The School Play, comparing Nabokov and Kubrick
Chess and the Queen
The Enchanted Hunters as versus the Hunted Enchanters
The Play and Semiramis
A Family Row, Shots 400 through 403
A Family Row, Comparing Nabokov and Kubrick
The Pay Telephone Call at the ESSO, Shots 404 through 405
The Call at the ESSO, Comparing Nabokov and Kubrick
The Curious Case of Jack Brewster

PART SIX.....(406-462, about 2:07:30)

Trip 2 Begins, Shots 406 through 415
Locations. Newport.
Black Hills and the Badlands, South Dakota Locations. Connection to Dr. Strangelove. CRM-114.
The Gas Station, Shots 416 through 422
More Twists and Turns
Pegasus and Red Lightning
Location of the Gas Station
Reminders of Charlotte's Accident at the Gas Station
The Asiatic Flu, Shots 423 through 431
The Asiatic Flu, Comparing Nabokov and Kubrick
The Drome Ad
Followed! Shots 411 and 412
Examining the Asiatic Flu
Humbert's Arm
Licenses
The Hospital, Shots 432 through 447
The Hospital, Comparing Nabokov and Kubrick
Location of the Hospital
Daedalus and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
You Will have to Terminate this Conversation, Shots 448 through 451
Terminate, Comparing Nabokov and Kubrick
She Didn't, By Any Chance, Leave Any Message For Me?, Shots 452 through 462
Any Message, Comparing Nabokov and Kubrick
Why We Are So Sympathetic with Humbert
The Eyes in Kubrick
Uncle Gustave
The Fence

PART SEVEN.....(463-539)

The Letter, Shot 463
Through City Streets, Towards Mrs. Schiller, Shot 464 through 473
Locations. Partition Street.
Richmond, Virginia Location and its Relationship to Edgar Allen Poe
Mrs. Dick Schiller, Shots 474 through 539
Mrs. Dick Schiller, Comparing Nabokov and Kubrick
The Gun and Chess
Quilty's Presence in the Scene
Humbert's Tears Prefigured
The Ranch and the Coronation Ceremony
Richard Schiller's Deafness, Ode to Joy, and Bill's Cut Thumb
Year Conflict
That Pin-up Girl in the Hood
Where are you hiding, Dolores Haze?...I talk in a daze, I walk in a maze...
Hitchcock's Vertigo
So, Was Lolita a Love Story?
A Parting Observation

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Supplemental, Extracts, Elaborations

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 Film's Use 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.

A Brief Look at the Faux Timber Framework Buildings in 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

Kubrick's Lolita and Hitchcock's Vertigo, with a Touch of The Shining

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

The Location of Humbert's Taxi Drive Transition from Westerly, RI to Charlotte's Ramsdale House. An examination of the transition in shot 70.

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

Another Kubrick Maze that is Lolita

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

Nietzsche, The Shining, and The White Man's Burden, in which I discuss also the role of women in other films of Kubrick's

The Kreutzer Sonata and Lolita

Examining the Relationships in The King of Marvin Gardens, and the Possibility of a Reference to Kubrick's Lolita

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Notes on the Analyses

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? 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, the vast knowledge that has been archived in your brain from birth forward of symbols and metaphors and archetypes through navigating the warehouse of such that is actively and passively feeding you in the cultures of everyday society. 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. For that matter, even a simple detective story can actively engage the viewer, and Kubrick's films have a touch of the detective genre to them. For instance, at the end of The Shining Kubrick zooms in on Jack seemingly appearing in an old photograph of The Overlook, and he is holding what looks like a little slip of paper, a little rectangle of white in the palm of his hand, as if displaying it for us, but what is it? One is compelled to try to solve the mystery of Jack in the photo, what could be in his hand, so one watches the movie again. That's the sleuthing, detective part of watching Kubrick's films.

The most important thing which must be kept in mind with Kubrick's films is there is the surface or principle story and then the internal or sub-story. In many of his films, if we're really paying attention, set elements pretty much immediately destroy the surface naturalism. One may not notice this deconstruction the first, second or third time one watches the film. Through constructive disorientation and disconnectedness, and sleight of hand as to where our eye focuses, Kubrick, the magician, intentionally obfuscates and reveals these elements that betray the overt and naturalistic story line as being artifice, a studio fiction that rests upon something both more solid and also bizarre. The surface story lines are the principle ones, but they are maintained and supported by the sub rosa dialogue. These deconstructive elements are plainly there, alongside his tremendous effort to make things look real and believable, and play with a purposeful sense of disorientation that when locked into exposes a puzzle that annihilates the sense of reality. This destruction of the film's naturalistic story line is difficult enough to conceive of and accept, and it's easy enough to stop at this point and decide these puzzling aspects of Kubrick's films are errors. But they are not. They are part of the art of a director cleverly designing the overt story line to be unimpeded by an internal story that tears it apart. Indeed, the sub rosa elements of the internal story may be discreet but they are enough in evidence to complicate the surface story with an aura of attractive, indefinable mystery, which is one of the reasons viewers return to Kubrick again and again. To work with the "reason" and "why" of the internal story line is to try to settle into Kubrick's sensibility, examining how these internal stories form a dialogue in his oeuvre with repeating themes and ideas, elaborated upon from film to film. The internal stories haven't a "plot"; they aren't that kind of story. Instead, you have to be willing to deal with comprehending the themes and ideas represented in them as ultimately forming a different terrain for the setting of the surface story, guiding and interacting with the overt story and giving it a new form in the hands of the participant viewer who is engaged rather than a passive recipient.

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Link to the main TOC page for all the analyses

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