Though often referred to as Stanley Kubrick's "unfinished masterpiece", the final edit of the film was actually presented to Warner Bros. (by Kubrick) a full four days before his death, though the score and other aspects were not finalized.
The password "fidelio" (from the Latin root "fidelis" meaning "faithful") is the title of Ludwig van Beethoven's only opera. In the opera, Fidelio is a woman who disguises herself as a man to save her lover.
The film is notoriously known for its secrecy during production and the secrecy even divided the two main stars, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. To exaggerate the distrust between their fictional husband and wife, director Stanley Kubrick would direct each actor separately and forbid them to share notes. In one painful example, for just one minute of final footage where Alice makes love to a handsome naval officer-an imaginary affair that haunts Bill over the course of the film-Kubrick demanded that Kidman shoot six days of naked sex scenes with a male model. Not only did he ask the pair to pose in over fifty erotic positions, he banned Cruise from the set and forbade Kidman to assuage her husband's tension by telling him what happened during the shoot.
Stanley Kubrick died just four days after presenting Warner Bros. with what was reported to be a final cut of the film, after a legendarily long shoot. His friends and family, as well as the cast and crew of the film, all claimed that Kubrick's death was completely unexpected and that he never seemed to be in poor health while making the film.
Stanley Kubrick reportedly watched movies like Showgirls (1995), Basic Instinct (1992), and Fatal Attraction (1987) during the editing phase, to get the idea of how explicit the sex scenes in the movie could be and still retain the R-rated movie he had contractually agreed to deliver.
Stanley Kubrick once again made good on his reputation of infamous perfectionist after shooting a scene with an actor tapping a window. Kubrick liked the scene but was not satisfied with the tapping sound that was recorded. Rather than simply rerecording the sound with a stand-in, he had the same actor flown back to the set to reproduce the sound.
Stanley Kubrick and director of photography Larry Smith tested out different film stocks and finally settled on one that had been discontinued by Kodak. As a courtesy, Kodak offered to supply as many rolls of this film as would be needed for the project.
The letters and the newspaper read by Tom Cruise are written in Italian for the Italian version of this movie. Apparently, Stanley Kubrick shot those scenes with papers written in different languages, as he did for The Shining (1980).
Due to Stanley Kubrick's fear of travel virtually the entire film was shot in and near London (despite the movie's New York City setting). Elaborate street sets built at Pinewood Studios were used for all the scenes showing Tom Cruise walking around the city.
The film was "pushed" two stops in processing, enabling Stanley Kubrick to film using existing source lighting (table lamps, overhead lights et cetera) whenever possible. The light level remained low even when lighting had to be supplemented with Lowell or Chinese paper ball lamps as fill or key lights.
In order for the film to be given an R rating in the U.S. (as opposed to NC-17), some scenes contain computer-generated people in the foreground obscuring some of the more explicit sexual action. Although some claimed this to be a perversion of Stanley Kubrick's work, Kubrick had already proposed the use of computer-generated imagery prior to his death, should the M.P.A.A. deny the movie its desired R rating.
The thirteen-and-a-half minute billiard room scene between Tom Cruise and Sydney Pollack took about three weeks of filming with nearly 200 takes. The greeting scene at the party early in the picture took only two hours with around sixteen takes. Cruise claimed that Pollack might have ironically been too prepared for the billard scene, himself being a director, and when he arrived on-set with ideas of how the scene could be blocked, Kubrick then pressed him to perform it a different way each take.
According to writer Frederic Raphael, the final form of Bill's family name (Harford, as opposed to Scheuer in the original story) was inspired by a debate about Bill's character. Raphael felt Bill should be Jewish as in the original, but Stanley Kubrick insisted Bill and Alice be "vanilla" Americans, without any details that would arouse any presumptions. Kubrick said that Bill should be a bit like Harrison Ford - hence the name Harford. Ironically, Ford himself is Jewish on his mother's side, and Kubrick's parents were both Jewish.
When Tom Cruise's character is interrogated before the attendants of the orgy, and when he returns to the mansion, the mysterious, sinister music that is heard was first used in the David Niven film, Stairway to Heaven (1946) when Niven's character is being judged in Heaven.
The tremendous hype around the release of this film resulted in several rumors about the plot. The most widely circulated rumor was that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman played married psychiatrists having love affairs with their patients.
Harvey Keitel and Jennifer Jason Leigh originally played Victor Ziegler and Marion Nathanson. After Keitel and Leigh had shot some scenes, Keitel left the production due to his obligations to another project. His scenes needed to be reshot, but Leigh was not available to reshoot them (due to a scheduling conflict with eXistenZ (1999)). Consequently, Sydney Pollack and Marie Richardson were brought in to play the respective roles.
This was one of Nicole Kidman's personal favorite experiences while working on a film, citing working with Stanley Kubrick being akin to "attending film school". Kubrick also talked her out of her plans to retire from acting, when she considered dedicating more time to her family. He allegedly told her, "You owe it to your talent not to stop".
In the film, Todd Field plays a character who dropped out of medical school ten years earlier and now plays the piano. Ten years before this film was released, Field played a pianist who dropped out of medical school in Gross Anatomy (1989) which starred Matthew Modine who played "Joker" in Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987).
When Bill Harford watches television in his living room apartment, an NFL game is on. The game is also on when he enters the Sonata Café. Stanley Kubrick was a huge NFL fan, as he reportedly received VHS recordings of matches taped by his friends back in the United States when he lived in England.
While VHS and region 2 DVD editions sold in Great Britain, Germany and France have always been completely uncensored, the original region 1 DVD contained the U.S. theatrical cut which contained computer-generated people in the foreground obscuring some of the more explicit sexual action during the orgy sequence. However, the U.S. version of 2007 double DVD special edition (encoded, as now appears to be Warner Bros. standard practice, for regions 1, 2, 3 & 4) contains the full uncensored European theatrical print, making it the first time Stanley Kubrick's final cut has been made directly available in any form to customers in the U.S.
During his long stay in the UK, Tom Cruise visited a Blockbuster store to rent a video. Imagine his surprise when the sales staff asked him for 2 forms of identification. Even though Blockbuster was an affiliate of Paramount, for whom Cruise has had some of his greatest hits including " Top Gun " and the " Mission Impossible " franchise, they still wouldn't issue him a membership. Blockbuster management, when quizzed about the incident, praised their staff for correctly following store policy. Other video stores would display newspaper articles recounting the story to show prospective members why they needed to bring the necessary ID when joining.
Stanley Kubrick was set to make 'Aryan Papers,' an adaptation of a novel called 'Wartime Lies' by Louis Begley. It was about a Jewish family in Poland trying to evade capture by the Nazis. But as he was ready to go into production, Steven Spielberg had began making Schindler's List (1993). Feeling the similarities were too great, Kubrick reluctantly shelved 'Aryan Papers'. This led to Kubrick's next project being 'Eyes Wide Shut'.
Alan Cummings who played the memorable role of a Hotel Clerk who flirts with Tom Cruise character remarked in a later interview that Stanley Kubrick had assumed he was American. This was due to the fact that in his audition tapes he had given such a faultless American accent Kubrick assumed he was American. It wasn't until they met for the first time on set did Kubrick realise Cumming was Scottish.
At Victor's party, Bill Harford is being led away by two models. When he asks where they're going, one of them replies, "Where the rainbow ends. Don't you want to go where the rainbow ends?" Later, Bill rents a costume and mask from Rainbow Fashions. Rainbow is the name of a Masonic organization. "Where the Rainbow Ends" is the name of a morality play by Clifford Mills and John Ramsay.
Stanley Kubrick's perfectionism led him to oversee every visual element that would appear in a given frame, from props and furniture to the color of walls and other objects.One such element were the masks used in the orgy, which were inspired by the masked Carnival balls visited by the protagonists of the novel. Costume designer Marit Allen explained that Kubrick felt they fit in that scene for being part of the imaginary world, and ended up "creating the impression of menace, but without exaggeration". Many masks as used in the Venetian carnival were sent to London, and Kubrick separated who would wear each piece.
Given Stanley Kubrick's fear of flying, the entire film was shot in England. Sound-stage works were done at London's Pinewood Studios, which included a detailed recreation of Greenwich Village. Kubrick's perfectionism went as far as sending workmen to Manhattan to measure street widths and note newspaper vending machine locations. Real New York City footage was also shot, to be rear projected behind Tom Cruise.
Harford's wallet is quite full at the beginning of the film, but later it's clear he's rather outmatched financially. When he arrives home and his wife is helping their daughter with her homework, they're working a math problem about two people who have different amounts of money.
In April 1971, WB head John Calley announced that Stanley Kubrick's next production for the studio would be " Traumnovelle ". It would be 28 Years later before Kubrick's adaptation of the Arthur Schnitzler book would finally get released by Warner Bros.
The producers writing credit name that the film is "inspired by the novel by Arthur Schnitzler " implicitly "Traumnovelle / Dream Story" from 1926. Given the temporal update, the film's script closely follows Arthur Schnitzler's text. On the other hand, "Eyes Wide Shut" is inspired by Wolfgang Glück's film "Traumnovelle" from 1969.
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were married in real life while making this film. It's been rumored that they were so uncomfortable being around other naked people, namely the Navel Officer scene and the "Ritual" rooms, that they asked each other to be present while they filmed their scenes.
According to screenwriter Frederic Raphael, the final edit of the film was in fact completed by Sydney Pollack after Kubrick's death. This is mentioned in a video interview conducted with Raphael by Web of Stories.
It is strongly implied and hinted that the Red Cloak cult leader at the orgy is actually Victor Ziegler. One interesting clue is the torn newspaper article that Bill gives to Zeigler which details about Maddy's death (which mirrors the story that the desk clerk told Bill earlier about two men returning Nick Nightingale to his hotel), the end of the article describes that the dead woman, who's body that Bill Harfort saw in the morgue, had an affair with a London fashion design editor named Leon Vitali. These details imply that Maddy had an affair with Red Cloak himself. Earlier in the film, the character of Maddy nearly dies from a drug overdose in Zeigler's bathroom. Clearly the two of them were engaged in a sexual act. Also to note: although Zeigler is also married, he clearly fusses over Bill's wife Alice when they arrive at his Christmas party at his house earlier in the film. Some viewers have speculated that he invited Bill and Alice to his party because Zeigler desired Alice. however, Red Cloak speaks with an English accent. Some viewers have also speculated that the gathering at the Somerton Mansion was symbolic rather than literal... a dream sequence of sorts influenced by Bill smoking pot with Alice earlier in the evening. Red Cloak and Victor Zeigler are both hosts of their own party. Zeigler's Christmas party is a tinsel wrapped illusion of sophistication... disguising the presence of "models" (hookers), drugs, and people flirting with each others partners. The Somerton Mansion sequences are a symbolic revisit to the Ziegler party, minus the Christmas decorations, false smiles, fake personas, and "social graces" of high society. This is the base psychological reality of the Zeigler party laid bare. But some of the strongest suggestions that Zeigler is Red Cloak happen at Zeigler's mansion during his discussion with Bill about the orgy gathering; Note how Zeigler had a red-colored billiards table and he walks around the pool table during most of the scene also interesting is that there are 11 pool balls on the table,at the orgy 11 topless masked girls surrounded Red Cloak,. 'Red Cloak' also strolls in circles on a square red carpet and he twirls an incense ball in circles and he hits the floor twice with his staff rod to give commands. Although it is easy to miss upon a first viewing, note the parallels between Red Cloak's gestures with the incense ball and Ziegler's moves playing with the white cue ball at the billiards table, and later with the chalk how Zeigler hits the pool table twice while talking with Bill about the death of Maddy. Zeigler also points at Bill in a threatening manner when Bill questions him about the death of Maddy, which is very similar in camera angle to Red Cloak's threat to Bill at the mansion. Also, the scene with Bill and Zeigler ends with Bill stepping into a blue light emulating from outside a window. Both Bill and Red Cloak are also bathed in a overhead blue light at the mansion.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When Bill enters his apartment for the last time (right before he discovers the mask on his pillow) we can see a stack of Stanley Kubrick videos from on the long table under the painting. The one on the top is Full Metal Jacket (1987).
Abigail Good, a runway model who plays the mysterious woman who intervenes at the ceremony and is led away presumably to her death, spoke her lines during filming, but her voice was dubbed by another actress in post-production.
The final scene of the film has Bill and Alice discussing what they would like to do, and Alice says she wants to fuck. As this is the final film ever made by Stanley Kubrick, it means that the last word ever spoken by a character in a Kubrick film is "fuck."
A real-estate agent's sign that appears briefly in shot at the end of a street carries the name Vitali. The newspaper article that Bill reads announcing the death of Mandy mentions that she was a model and that she had been involved with a designer named Leon Vitali: one of Stanley Kubrick's longest-serving colleagues who also plays Red Cloak.
The scene where Dr. Harford is walking down the street being followed. He stops at a newspaper stand to buy one. The headline on the page reads "LUCKY TO BE ALIVE". This is the paper where he learns of Mandy's death.