In Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, the protagonist Bill arrives at a secret party/orgy:

Shortly after arriving, he is warned by a masked woman to leave ASAP. Before warning him, the woman was taking part in a ritual, we see no way someone could have talked to her since Bill's arrival. She is taken away for a moment by a masked man, but only after she told him he is in great danger.

When he is found out to be uninvited, he is threatened but the lady steps and says she'll 'redeem' him. It is implied or said that whatever punishment was intended for Bill, she will suffer. Bill leaves, not knowing what will happen to hear.

Later the same lady is found dead in her hotel room (overdose) and we learn that Bill attended to her a night before, after a minor overdose.

Near the end of the movie Bill is told (and seems to believe) that the whole thing with the lady redeeming him was a charade to scare him (and possibly because people who have masked orgies like to play charades). The alternative, far less benign, explanation would be that the weird cult murdered her.

Now there are several ways to interpret this movie - everything is a dream (or several dreams) and if not one could see the cult in a more or less benign way. I think I found a logical hole in the more benign interpretation:

Since there was hardly any time between Bill arriving and the first warning. So a charade seems unlikely, maybe she recognized him despite the mask. This would make the film less ambiguous. Maybe I missed a detail:

Is there anything in a scene where the masked Lady could have been told to scare away Bill, before trying so for the first time?


OTOH, it would not seem very logical that the cult allows a hired sex worker (what Mandy appears to be) to decide on whether they punish a gate crasher or not.

  • IIRC, wasn't it more of a matter of being recognized? I always thought she warned him because he was recognized to be a gatecrasher despite his mask (perhaps his body language or some other trait). Jul 18, 2016 at 18:46
  • But isnt it weird that of all the people, the one to recognize - not Bill! - but an unknown gatecrasher is the same Mandy he helped the night before? Then again might be dream logic, or hollywood logic. limited casting pool and all that.
    – mart
    Jul 19, 2016 at 5:21

3 Answers 3


Kubrick was one of the most precise and exacting directors ever. Nearly all of his films are considered perfect. He was notorious for doing a ridiculous amount of takes, so that he could get everything just right.

That said, there is a lot of ambiguity, but since it is Kubrick, we have to assume that ambiguity is intended.

It it pretty clear she was a regular worker at these events. By her offer to redeem Bill, it is clear she knows the rules. Thus, that she would instantly grok what was going on with him is not a stretch. She did not specifically need to know what he was up to—only that he had committed trespass

Some further context that may help explain her decision:

The movie deals with ancient Levantine "sin" expiation rituals—the origin of the "scapegoat".

To give you a sense of the level Kubrick was working at, note that the Ancient Greek word for scapegoat is pharmakós. From this we derive "pharmaceutical". Note that she died by drug overdose.

An aspect of the hero's quest is the taking on of society's sin, in order that they may be redeemed, and by extension, redeems the community. Oedipusis one such a figure.

There's an idea out there that the ultra-wealthy who are depicted in the movie know they're "going to hell". Thus they enact ancient sin rituals to wash their souls clean.

It is possibly she believed the punishment would amount to torture or a beating, as it is likely she has sadomasochism tendencies to have chosen such employment. However, they killed her instead to threaten, and by extension, control Bill.

It is also possible she knew the penalty was death and was simply suicidal, perhaps looking for redemption in her death. In many ancient religions, if accounts can be believed, trespass of a sacred space was punishable by death.


Is it possible they recognized Cruise because he was the only one wearing a gold mask? everyone else seemed to be wearing a white mask

  • If not the masks then probably from the way he carried himself, everyone else was calm, cool, collected, almost unfeeling, he was clearly surprised, nervous, etc. Dec 12, 2017 at 8:30
  • Anyone know what they would've done to Cruise if the lady hadn't intervened? Was the red cloak guy going to rape him? Dec 12, 2017 at 8:30
  • It's possible, but the movie points out he was the only one to arrive in a taxi and it was a dead give-away he didn't belong. Dec 12, 2017 at 9:27
  • 1
    This is incorrect. All sorts of masks were worn.
    – user9668
    Aug 25, 2018 at 5:01

Instead of coming up with highly speculative theories and depositing absolute trust in the genius of Kubrick, maybe we should be more practical about it.

There's the idea that this is an unfinished movie (ex. Final editing and soundtrack) and that the edit as we all know is the result of taking out 20-24 min from Kubrick's last "working print".

When you account for these, it is plausible to present the idea that there is missing scenes that explain more clearly why the mystery woman was able to recognize Tom's character among the masked crowd. (By the way, she isn't Mandy, the speedball lady. Quite possibly the patient with the exposed breasts in the examination room scene).

Another explanation is that it's simply a mistake or a an ex-machina bs move from Kubrick to enhance the "mystery" or the ambivalence of yet another of his movies.

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