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Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

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A New York City doctor embarks on a harrowing, night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife reveals a painful secret to him.

Director:

Stanley Kubrick

Writers:

Stanley Kubrick (screenplay), Frederic Raphael (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Popularity
594 ( 82)

Director's Trademarks: A Guide to Stanley Kubrick's Films

2001: A Space Odyssey and Eyes Wide Shut are just the beginning of Stanley Kubrick's legacy. Are you up to speed on the film icon's style?

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 11 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Cruise ... Dr. William Harford
Nicole Kidman ... Alice Harford
Madison Eginton Madison Eginton ... Helena Harford
Jackie Sawiris Jackie Sawiris ... Roz
Sydney Pollack ... Victor Ziegler
Leslie Lowe Leslie Lowe ... Illona
Peter Benson ... Bandleader
Todd Field ... Nick Nightingale
Michael Doven ... Ziegler's Secretary
Sky du Mont ... Sandor Szavost (as Sky Dumont)
Louise J. Taylor Louise J. Taylor ... Gayle (as Louise Taylor)
Stewart Thorndike Stewart Thorndike ... Nuala
Randall Paul Randall Paul ... Harris
Julienne Davis ... Mandy
Lisa Leone Lisa Leone ... Lisa
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Storyline

After his wife, Alice, tells him about her sexual fantasies, William Harford sets out for a night of sexual adventure. After several less than successful encounters, he meets an old friend, Nick Nightingale - now a musician - who tells him of strange sex parties when he is required to play the piano blindfolded. All the men at the party are costumed and wear masks while the women are all young and beautiful. Harford manages to find an appropriate costume and heads out to the party. Once there, however, he is warned by someone who recognizes him, despite the mask, that he is in great danger. He manages to extricate himself but the threats prove to be quite real and sinister. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Cruise. Kidman. Kubrick.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug-related material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 July 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Traumnovelle See more »

Filming Locations:

UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$21,706,163, 18 July 1999, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$55,691,208

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$162,091,208
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. See more »

Goofs

While Dr. Harford is arguing with Alice on the bed after smoking a joint, his hair is sticking up in one shot and is flat in the next. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dr. Bill Harford: Honey, have you seen my wallet?
Alice Harford: Isn't it on the bedside table?
Dr. Bill Harford: Now listen, you know we're running a little late.
Alice Harford: I know. How do I look?
Dr. Bill Harford: Perfect.
Alice Harford: Is my hair okay?
Dr. Bill Harford: It's great.
Alice Harford: You're not even looking at it.
Dr. Bill Harford: It's beautiful. You always look beautiful.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Special thanks to the staff of Hamleys of London. See more »

Alternate Versions

In the lengthy shot where Nicole Kidman dances naked in front of a mirror to Chris Isaak's "Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing," the second half of the shot, once Tom Cruise walks over, has been zoomed considerably for the DVD. The first half is as it was shown in theaters, with rear nudity from Kidman, but seconds before Cruise enters the frame, the image starts to zoom up and in rapidly, so that when Cruise enters, only a section from his elbow up is visible. In the theatrical version, when Cruise enters, the frame goes well below his navel. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Sexual Obsession of Joe Sarno (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Chanson d'Amour
(1961)
Performed by The Victor Silvester Orchestra
Courtesy of Castle Copyrights Ltd
Written by Wayne Shanklin
Administered by Hill & Range Songs, Inc. & Carlin Music Corporation
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Eyes Wide Open
2 February 2012 | by AlexDeLargeisHereSee all my reviews

Stanley Kubrick's final film is perhaps the first of its kind: it is the only film I have watched that exists within the state of death itself. It's no surprise; Stanley Kubrick died 4 days after submitting the final print into Warner Bros., Sydney Pollock died in 2008 and my grandparents, who saw this film at a screening in 1999, are dead. However, these aren't merely the reasons this film evokes a death-like state, this film evokes a death-like state throughout Bill Harford's sexual odyssey. During the Masonic orgy, which is arguably the film's center-piece, women are used and discarded as corpses who are only valued for their material gain. This film is shroud in ultra-violet blue, especially at the end of the film where it accentuates the characters' trembling flesh and vulnerable humanity, and the powerful red which contrasts against this blue reflects one of Kubrick's favorite themes: dominance. Perhaps it's inexplicable that Eyes Wide Shut evokes a man's dying thoughts. Ironically, this film feels more fresh and timeless than many of its contemporaries, only reaffirming the inestimable value of Kubrick's contributions to cinema and a decade of a cinematic drought aptly followed his death. It was fashionable to deride Stanley Kubrick's final film during its theatrical run, regardless of the fact that he considered it his personal favorite. It seems that the audience expected Kubrick to inundate them with gratuitous eroticism as opposed to ideas. Yet, Eyes Wide Shut has outsmarted time and the film industry itself. It was almost incongruously released a week before American Pie and the abysmal Will Smith star vehicle Wild Wild West. It continues to hold a mere 7.2/10 on IMDb in contrast to escapist science-fiction film The Matrix which holds an 8.7/10 rating and is listed in the top 30 films of all time, above Kubrick's more cerebral science-fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. All of this may be due to the fact that Kubrick argued that 'Observancy is a dying art' and Eyes Wide Shut requires an attention to detail and an attention span that transcends the average summer blockbuster; it's easy to get lost in the terrifying labyrinth of Kubrick's musings. Though, unlike other films, Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut refutes the transcendent imagery and magic that is featured in the majority of Kubrick's films, even in Eyes Wide Shut itself, and strips humanity down to its fragile human core, figuratively speaking; Kubrick comes to the conclusion that when man is confronted with the cold and harsh reality, he favors comforting self-delusion and blissful ignorance.

Sydney Pollock's Ziegler argues, during his amazing final monologue, that the Masonic orgies are practiced by society's elite which excludes Bill. Bill spends the duration of the film's first half attempting to engage in infidelity after his wife reveals that she was willing to choose one night with a naval officer over their future. Naturally, this enrages Bill and he spends the night attempting to fulfill his personal need to subjugate his feelings of impotence, sexual and otherwise. Even in the very beginning, when Bill walks with two models, his short stature implicitly denotes his lack of power. Bill is convinced that he has been subjected to a life of domesticity and his wife is responsible; he vows to reaffirm his masculinity. Kubrick paints long shots of New York at midnight which is designed to inspire the viewer with dread. Almost every single beautiful shot capturing the very essence of soft, warm colors in the beginning soon descends into the dark and strong colors that reflect the very dream-state many describe when they watch this film. Yet, to me, it evokes a foreboding death-like state which suggests impending doom.

Bill's quest for reaffirmation of his masculinity only renders him emasculated when he enters a Masonic orgy and is rendered socially powerless by a group of the masked elite. Bill's journey neither leads him towards enlightenment nor satisfaction but humiliation and understanding that he has been domesticated by the higher classes. Ironically, his quest for sexual empowerment only led him to the understanding of social domesticity; Bill is not as influential or elite as he had initially anticipated. Not unlike the elite's perception of women; they use the high-class prostitutes as objects valued for their material value which reflects their perception of the masses that are responsible for their success. As in the beginning, when Ziegler needs Bill to revive a dying woman who almost overdoses on a combination of cocaine and heroin, Ziegler values Bill for his medical expertise which prevented trouble with the law rather than his personality. Kubrick's film argues that we live in ignorance of others perceptions of us and this is the ultimate existential fear of Harford; the elite have seen Harford unmasked, vulnerable and exposed. Pollock says 'If you knew who was there, you wouldn't sleep so well.' Kubrick has finally exposed man for who he really is; vulnerable and ignorant of the mysterious forces which govern him. The final and most playfully complex of cinema's closing lines concludes that Bill and Alice Harford have learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. They refuse to acknowledge their social impotence and would prefer for their eyes to remain wide shut, ignorant to the mysterious forces that govern them. On a more optimistic note, however, perhaps Bill's odyssey only made him aware of his vulnerability, and Kubrick evokes this through the dark imagery that recreates the sense of subjective paranoia that Bill is experiencing. Bill realizes what ultimately matters: love and family, as opposed to the power which he initially craved but only realized he was at the mercy of others' application of such social power. I'm open to many interpretations of this film, because Kubrick wanted the audience's eyes to remain wide open soon after they finished experiencing this masterpiece.


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