Overall, Kubrick’s work is usually concerned with the comedy, chaos, fear, and havoc that is caused by the animals inside people’s heads. He believed that regardless of the advancements that the human species makes, they still exist of creatures of dual desires. These primal desires that reside within us will always poison our desires and accomplishments.
Kubrick critiques this idea of a perfect system across many of his films, and uses bathrooms to demonstrate the collapse of such systems due to the weaknesses of humans. Even though unknowingly to everyone that Eyes Wide Shut would be Kubrick’s final film, it does serve as representing all his prior films.(William Sylvester) is embarking on his trip, he attempts to video call his daughter (Vivian Kubrick), however this fails as her babysitter is currently in the bathroom. Additionally, in 2001, at the end of the film, Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) has left the vortex and found himself encountering various versions of himself along differing timelines. He then comes across a bathroom, it is seemingly immaculate, however, the bathroom does not contain a toilet.
This can be read as Kubrick’s way of showing the audience that Bowman has left behind his flawed human form, and become the Star Child. Suggesting that only when humans remove this animalistic act may they achieve such perfection. A Clockwork Orange (1971) contains a significant bathroom scene in which Alex (Malcolm McDowell), after being beaten by former friends, winds up at the home of the writer Frank Alexander (Patrick Magee), whom Alex not only crippled, but whose wife he raped. Frank does not know who Alex is, aside from his fame as a Ludovico technique patient, and kindly offers him his home as a sanctuary. However, Alex finds the bathroom relaxing, and eventually begins to sing the same song that he sang whilst raping Franks’ wife.
This sound echoes down the house, causing Frank to recognise who Alex is, and ultimately being to torture him until Alex attempts suicide. For A Clockwork Orange, the bathroom is not safe space that most of Kubrick’s characters believe it to be. This bathroom scene causes a chain reaction that eventually leads to Alex reverting into his previously brutal and animalistic ways. In Kubrick’s final three films, his opinions towards bathrooms are obvious, with The Shining demonstrating these feelings the most.
By utilising the once safe space, Kubrick places all The Shining’s characters into a bathroom whilst showing their vulnerability and how the ghosts of the past can literally and figuratively come back for them. Danny (Danny Lloyd) is consistently subjected to horrors within bathrooms, with Room 237 operating as a turning point in the film for both Danny and Jack (Jack Nicholson). Jack succumbs to his animalistic sexual desires in Room 237’s bathroom, as ‘this bathroom provides a place for male fantasies of sexual and gender power and vulnerability’. (White in Kolker, 2006), and Jack kisses a seemingly attractive young woman before she becomes an elderly decaying corpse. Later, his insanity if further escalated during his conversation with Grady (Philip Stone) in the red bathroom. The build up leads to when Jack is trying to kill his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son in their bathroom.
The Shining’s bathrooms become places where the true power of masculinity is discussed. As people feel vulnerable in bathrooms, Jack is invading that safe space they usually provide, and puts other people’s life at risk. The bathroom in The Shining also demonstrates power play, with Grady and Jack switching power roles during their conversation in the red bathroom. Similarly, the bathroom scene in Full Metal Jacket (1987) is where Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio), after consistently feeling helpless at the hands of Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey), the other trainees, and the entire military training life, takes back the power he had lost.
Pyle has reached rock bottom, and is sitting in the bathroom with his rifle, telling Joker (Matthew Modine), that he is ‘in a world of shit’ (Kubrick, 1987). This is Kubrick’s way of linking the worst aspects of humanity and bathrooms, as Pyle is both literally and figuratively in the world he describes. Not only does he regain power by killing Hartman and himself, but he relieves himself of the hardships of his life, so it is fitting the Kubrick chose to have this take place in the bathroom. The bathroom once again becomes the place in which the system has failed yet again.
‘The bathroom is granted a necessary and elusive polarity in Kubrick’s films that acts to subvert and ironize human pretentions to super-corporeal existence’. (Kuberski, 2012), relating to Sergeant Hartman’s’ question, ‘what are you animals doing in my head?’ (Kubrick, 1987). This not only refers back to the recurring motif of humans reverting back into primal creatures when they enter