In our previous installment, The Table, we observed a pattern in Kubrick films in which the presence of a horizontal monolith or table, combined with the idea of a woman in danger, results in the following scene being a trip through a colorful hallway. In our rush to publish, we forgot to included a few more occurrences of these ‘table-gates’, here now presented:
∆ In the above scene in A Clockwork Orange, a woman is about to be raped by a gang of hooligans. Note the horizontal monoliths present in the form of pink mattresses both on the wall and the floor.
∆ And here is our table, the presence of which Alex underlines by smashing it to bits with a flying kick.
∆ And the scene immediately following is our ‘stargate’ sequence with Alex and droogs piloting a sports car in front of a stylized rear projection process plate.
∆ In the above scene from Full Metal Jacket, we have our obvious table, plus horizontal monoliths in the form of the purple tinted-windows.
[Side note: the yellow fan appears to be ready to launch into the purple beyond, a bit like the yellow Beetle in The Shining.]
∆ Punchline news that “Anne Margaret’s not coming” provides our “woman in trouble” narrative, along with big-picture understanding that everyone is in trouble here.
∆ The scene immediately following is our ‘stargate’ with the helicopter appearing to ‘jump’ over our local star, the morning sun.
∆ Heading rapidly south in a ‘colorful’ journey.
∆ The table is simply the writing desk, upon which Kubrick takes a skeleton story (woman in trouble) to the movie screen (the horizontal monolith) through a visually dazzling journey of the imagination (the stargate).
For the masters of filmmaking, a woman in danger is just shorthand for cinema, or even storytelling itself.
Consider Hitchcock’s maxim "torture the women."
Or Jean-Luc Godard: “All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun.”
Or David Lynch’s pitch line about Inland Empire as "about a woman in trouble."
The “woman in trouble” trope is curiously absent from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Aside from various stewardesses and scientists, the most significant woman in 2001 is Kubrick’s own daughter Vivian, who delivers the famous “bush baby” line.
Kubrick had a falling out with Vivian some time during the making of Eyes Wide Shut, and one can’t help but wonder if this inspired him, for the final scene of his final film, to include a subliminal kidnapping of a daughter.
∆ Forget about it Jack, it’s Chinatown,
Explorations of the Table-Gate motif continue here.