Eyes Wide Shut (1999) Poster

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Mis-marketed and misunderstood, among Kubrick's best
WriConsult7 June 2002
Warning: Spoilers

It's a shame that this film was promoted as a "hot" erotic thriller. Kubrick would not have allowed that marketing campaign to go forward had he been alive. Sure there's a lot of eroticism in this movie, but those who go to it looking for sexual thrills are going to be (and were) sorely disappointed.

The events in this movie are triggered by the protagonist's wife's revelation that she almost slept with another man. This kicks off a range of emotions and prompts him to re-evaluate his sexual relationship with her, subsequently leading to a trip through his sexual SUBconscious. This is the critical point that all too many viewers miss, though it's so overtly surreal I don't see how one could miss it. None of this is real! It's called Eyes Wide SHUT for a reason!

All of our protagonists' "encounters" represent manifestations of his sexual fantasies and fears. His fantasies include group sex, sex with a teenager, sex with a prostitute, sex without strings. His fears include disease, homosexuality (notice the brutal and brief encounter with the gay-bashing gang), and most of all: discovery. Discovery of his hidden fantasies, which might reveal his true nature to the world. Discovery that he is really a pretender, doesn't really belong, and is not worthy after all. This latter is probably universal, and in his case while it has sexual dimensions it is not purely sexual. In the end he realizes that his fantasies are just fantasies, at least some of his fears are legitimate, and that instead of just fantasizing about sex he should actually have sex with his wife. Not rocket science here, but plenty of people need reminding of this from time to time, and it's a well-told story.

I was fortunate enough to first see this movie in theaters overseas, and was spared the atrocity of digital editing to make things less explicit. David Lynch did the same thing more recently in Mulholland Drive, and I hope that this is not the beginning of a trend. Given all of the explicit gore and brutality in movies, the level of sexual explicitness that triggers the censors is simply laughable. Frankly, having seen the un-edited version, I didn't think it was a big deal.

One can't dismiss criticisms that the nudity was all female and many of the women were depicted as sexual objects, but this movie is quite pointedly a trip through a fairly conventional man's sexual unconscious and necessarily told from a male point of view. So none of these things should be a surprise. It would be very interesting to see a comparable exploration of the female sexual subconscious by an accomplished woman director, though I'm not holding my breath that the Hollywood establishment will allow that to happen soon.
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An impressive film with a bad marketing campaign
niteman17 July 1999
Eyes Wide Shut is ill-suited for the summer movie corridor. It has no explosions, no running, shouting, or a single gunshot. What it has are long scenes in which characters talk to one another. Slowly and carefully. The problem is that the film is marketed as having white-hot sex scenes and plenty of gratuitous nudity, while it has neither. There is plenty of naked flesh, don't get me wrong, but in exactly the opposite way that the ads make it appear. This is not a movie about being sexy and naked -- it's a movie about how flesh is just another part of being human, so what is all the fuss about? The marketing campaign is misleading, and led to disappointment in the audience that I saw the movie with, who were just looking for some skin.

The tension in the plot and the issues that the film discusses aren't telegraphed to the audience, they're hinted at in the dialog. There is no neat resolution at the end, life simply goes on. You may watch the whole film and think "that wasn't about anything!" Then think about what you've seen and realize it has a great deal to say.

The film is a meditation on sexuality and how it relates to marriage, death, and money. It's a fascinating commentary on modern life, and a rare movie that dares to examine sex as impassionately as any other issue.

The directing and cinematography alone would be worth the price of admission without the social commentary. The sets are an integral part of the movie; they breathe and glow and live. Kubrick was a master director, and he uses long shots and dissolves to great effect. Cruise and Kidman are at their best, and the supporting cast is also strong. It's Kubrick's magic work with the camera that holds the film together.

All in all, definitely worth seeing for the un-uptight. It's possible to watch this film and actually think about it for hours afterward. That's something you won't get with the Wild, Wild West.
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A mirror audaciously obsessive in its dazzling revelations...
Nazi_Fighter_David7 September 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Stanley Kubrick was tempted to do "Eyes Wide Shut" in 1970, but Christianne, his wife, felt that her marriage could be in jeopardy, so she implored him not to do it... But "Eyes Wide Shut" came to be after all, the last temptation of Kubrick...

The film begins revealing the nice figure in high heels of Alice Harford (Nicole Kidman), moving in sliding motion her nice black gown... Alice is invited with her husband Dr. William (Tom Cruise) to a holiday party given by a New York wealthy broker called Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack).

While Alice is dancing half-drunk with an effusive Hungarian (Ski Dumont), she was, at the same time, spying on her husband who was flirting with two models... A ménage à trois is insinuated by the attractive girls, but a sudden interruption comes from Ziegler's private apartment which made the doctor climb upstairs to assist an attractive woman lying unconscious, repressed, overdosed!

The famous mirror love scene, between Alice and her husband, reflected a missing sexual desire between them both... William was kissing his lovely wife on the neck while her glance seemed weary and tired... It seems that the eroticism has vanished from her boring life... Only a little intimate contact is left... Is she truly recognizing a necessity for a change, maybe for a new husband much more nearby...

Looking for a certain sexual vengeance, Alice begins irritating her husband about adultery by testing his immunity, and relating some fantasy she had with a handsome naval officer last summer, she assures William that 'if the handsome office had wanted her,' she would have sacrificed everything, even her marriage and her child for one night stand!

Feeling his word destroyed into fragments, and walking the dangerous streets of New York, William remembered an old friend he met in the party, the piano player Todd Field (Nick Nightingale). He decides to pass by...

There, Nick divulges a secret... A secret place on Long Island... A château where he will be playing piano 'eyes shuttered'... But he continued, to get into the castle, one must have a mask, a disguise and he must 'know' the password...

With shades of Hitchcock's "Vertigo," Kubrick starts to play, at this point, with his characters... He seems escorting them and leading the audience for some purpose, for one definite performance he prepared his whole picture for it... Kubrick did not create a film about sex... He made a film about the conception of sex... He wanted us to explore something inside our mind that we usually prefer not to discover... Through his eyes a visual work appeared, a cinematic technique breathtakingly beautiful, a perfectionism, precise and mystical...

Reducing the dialog to a minimum, and with a distinguished confused music, we were in presence of a strange ceremonial rite, a picturesque ritual...

Based on a psychological drama, written by the Viennese novelist Arthur Schnizler, "Eyes Wide Shut" is a mirror, audaciously obsessive in its dazzling revelations, profound, provocative and passionate, transmitted in a frame of sex, fear and death, that we have to see with wide eyes fully opened...
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A fitting completion to Kubrick's study of humanity
Skywise-417 July 1999
I managed to swallow my expectations before the film, setting myself to judge it on its own without judging it as a Kubrick film. No need, no need! This film IS a Kubrick film, without any doubt, and as all Kubrick films are it was absolutely stunning. Absolutely. Visually it is brilliant, though I should warn that this isn't quite as visual a film as most other Kubrick works. A lot of the film focuses on the characters, on human interaction, something rather new to this director. Of course, all the Kubrick trademarks are there, cold analytical gazes, sharp introspection. Tom Cruise seems like Jack Nicholson in 'The Shining' and even Malcolm MacDowell in 'A Clockwork Orange' at times, a rather striking fact considering that this is Tom Cruise. The performances were excellent all around, even from places not expected. Again, this is typical for Kubrick. He wasn't much of a people director, but he still knew how to direct people.

Almost every moment of this film was flawless, perfect and pristine. The dialog is predictable, but in some solemn and holy fateful sort of way, as though the words and the moments are matched so essentially that nothing else could possibly fit. Beyond that the sounds and images all fit together beautifully, creating an almost unblemished whole. The only part that didn't seem right was the sequence that had been digitally altered. While the alterations were not nearly so obtrusive as I had feared (not knowing about them one probably wouldn't notice them) they do grow a bit noticeable for redundancy (you see a lot more backs than you'd expect, and always in the same places). Unfortunately these came right in the middle of one of the most visually amazing pieces of the film (one of the most amazing pieces of cinema as a whole, in my opinion), a very unwelcome distraction.

Is this movie about sex? Yes, it is, but more importantly it is about people. The sex part is simply a product thereof. This is one of the most disturbingly honest portraits of human behavior and motivations ever made. The most honest I've ever seen, at least. To be put simply: It is about sex because people are about sex.

I'm still trying to sort through this movie. It's been a good twelve hours since I saw it, and I can still feel it, hard and definite, rotating in my stomach. The film itself seems mostly void of opinion (not entirely, but mostly), serving more as a general statement and commentary than any specific moral warning, but the questions it inspires are very strong indeed. The film, being objective, provides no answers, no justification for humanity. There is no redemption, either, none whatsoever. The film's final word sums it (it being the film and humanity) up pretty well, for better or for worse. I guess that depends on you.

A common thread in Kubrick's films since 2001 has been the contemplation and examination of human intentions, the essence of human behavior. Motivations. He's shown us violence and madness and everything else, all tracking the path back to the dawn of man. I think he finally figured it out with this film, however anticlimactic the discovery might have been. At least he did finally figure it out. That's something.

I am one of many. I never had the privilege to know Stanley Kubrick. I don't even know that privilege is the right word. I do know his films, though, and while I am in no position to say that I will miss him as a person, I can say, without doubt or hesitation, that I will miss him as a filmmaker.
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Kubrick's Gift to us all. "I have seen one or two things in my life but never, never anything like this."
JFHunt25 September 2005
I'm sitting here trying to come up with a clever comment about this movie to make you want to see it. When in reality it doesn't matter what I say. As Stallone would say "I'm at least half a bum." The truth to it is, it kind of makes me sad that I'll probably never see another movie that affects so much. Never experience a film that 6 years after it's release, I still can not forget.

To say the most, it's a powerful film. The directing is world class. The camera work is haunting and the soundtrack gives me chills. It's Cruise at his finest. He is so convincing that one might actually believe that this guy is Doctor Bill Harford and this really did happen to him. And that my friends is the definition of acting. The seriousness of the situation fades away with a stern smile as the plot thickens.

To say the least it is one of those movies you could watch over and over again. To be honest with you, I didn't buy it the first time I saw it. I thought it was good, but not great. Then one day I was bored, so I decided to see it again. And that's when it happened. Kubrick came alive. I became infected by his genius and captivated by Cruise's portrayal. His realization and his detail.

It's hard to pick my favorite scene in the movie. I couldn't pretend if I tried. I particularly love the opening party scene. That leads to a "Baby did a bad bad thing". Cruise being assaulted on the street being so eloquently called a fag. The prostitute. From the piano bar to the costume shop. And finally, the unionized orgy party, that I find hard to believe doesn't really exist. Maybe only guys like Kubrick or Cruise will ever really know if they do or not.

Many people might disagree with me when I say Eyes Wide Shut is one of the greatest films. But how come I think it is every time I watch it? To me, it's more than a beautiful work of art. More than a visceral painted picture or a haunting melody. It's a masterpiece that should be treasured.
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A haunting dream of sexual obsession.
weezer-518 July 1999
I admit that I'm part of the Kubrick cult(people that follow his movies like a religion), and I was first in line to see this movie. Being a huge movie fan I've seen a wide variety of movies, and have walked away from them with a wide variety of emotions. This was the first movie to put me in a trance, or dream, like state. The way the movie was shot, lighted, and so on gave the feel of a dream (to me at least). I believe that this feel is just what was needed and what Kubrick wanted. Everyone has to admit to thinking about the dark side of sex, and I believe that in this movie we see that a person can explore the buried desires of their sexual id and still come away a good person.

I'm guessing that this was a very personal movie for Kubrick. He seemed to take Cruise's character to places that he, personally, wished he could explore. Places, like a prostitute or an orgy, that he'd like to visit, but not want to stay at very long.

Praise has to go to Cruise and Kidman for their performances. Cruise was able to strip away his movie star veneer that seems to protect him in all of his other movies, and bring through the clouded, tormented, and unsure heart of a jealous man. Kidman must have known that part of her role was to be eye candy, but she fought through that and gave the movie's best performance.

To anyone out there thinking about seeing the movie.....I say go. Some will hate it and others will love it, but half the fun of the movie lies in the discussions that will blossom from this great movie experience.
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Remarkable finale to a long, glorious career
Jaime N. Christley16 July 1999
The thing a lot of folks haven't liked about Stanley Kubrick's films is the fact that he always seemed to think the audience needed some points driven home a little harder than others. Very little is left for debate; most everything is spelled out, pressed hard, and dwelled upon. His critics have compared the long waits between his films to the long periods of waiting that occur while watching his films.

Personally, I like the long, slow scenes in his films. When they're filled with something: music, movement, thought, memory of a previous scene, dread, or any other emotion, they can never really be said to be empty. I like them because, with Kubrick, I can be sure that they're absolutely essential to his ultimate vision. He could have put out a six-hour documentary on tissue manufacturing; at least I'll know that not one minute of screen time is wasted.

"Eyes Wide Shut" isn't as vacuous as, say, "Barry Lyndon" or "The Shining." Compared to those two, this one scoots along like a person trying to get to his car in the rain. It'll try a lot of folks' patience, I'm sure -- even his most loyal fans will be bothered by the incessant piano "bell tolls" in the soundtrack of some scenes, or the constant reminders (in imaginary flashbacks) that Cruise's character is bothered by his wife's near-infidelity. I know I was.

Despite that, it's an apt final film for the long, glorious career of a man who has done more for the cinema, with less movies, than can ever be catalogued. To try and cite influences for this particular work is futile. Though one might draw parallels to Lindsay Anderson's "O Lucky Man!" or Martin Scorsese's "After Hours," "Eyes Wide Shut" is no less than a complete work from the cold heart and brilliant mind of Stanley Kubrick alone. It's also a furiously ingenious piece of filmmaking, one that works less on the emotions than on the senses and on the mind. Unlike most of Kubrick's earlier work, however, it does have an emotional subtext, which is used to devastating effect.

Cruise, by the way, does an outstanding job, not as a trained, camera-conscious film actor, but as a mature, seasoned performer. Here he uses his "Top Gun"/"Jerry Maguire" suavity to malicious effect; like Ryan O'Neal's Barry Lyndon before him, he's an egotistical cad. Unlike Lyndon, he gains our sympathy -- that's key to keeping us from disowning his character and thus negating the entire film.

Kidman is given less screen time, but it matters little. She's mostly seen in the beginning, and she has brief (but crucial) scenes throughout, and a masterful one at the end. It is safe to say that this is her best performance to date, and those of us who have been ignoring her treasured abilities up until now (the Academy, critics, myself) will be astounded to see how far she's come since "Dead Calm." Her high points: the argument with her husband that ends by setting the film's plot in motion perfectly captures the way women lure men into arguments when the cause for one is nonexistent (and on Cruise's part, how men can't think fast enough to do anything about it), and her dream confession scene, in which she wakes laughing but becomes tearful during recollection.

On a technical level, "Eyes Wide Shut" displays Kubrick's trademark perfectionism. Recreating Vietnam in rural England for "Full Metal Jacket" must have been nearly impossible, but the unrelenting accuracy in recreating uptown and downtown New York City is absolutely stunning. Right down to the diners and the newspaper stands; I shake my head in awe when I remind myself that Kubrick (a native Brooklynite) hasn't been to NYC in decades. The lighting and photography is impeccable, also, as it is in every one of his films.

This is the sort of film one sees more than once. Once is good to cleanse the palate, to clear out all the residual toxins left from other recent films. See it again, perhaps a third time, and get to appreciate the graceful, nearly unblemished finale of a man who took the art of cinema seriously. It's a sobering experience.
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Eyes Wide Open
AlexDeLargeisHere2 February 2012
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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Be prepared to think
Holden-1718 July 1999
There is no denying that Stanley Kubrick is one of the greatest filmmakers to ever live. He may not have made many films, but every single one of them is a masterpiece. That is not something that can be said about many other directors. He is a true artist. And it is because of that word, "art", that his work is often misunderstood. Rather than create films which reveal everything that the audience needs to know through the dialogue or the action, Kubrick layers his films with meaning. He does this through all aspects of the film.. the music, the images, the dialogue, and expressions. And by the end of the film, nothing is left clear, because he wants you to think about what you have seen, and come up with your own meaning for the film. The problem with this is that most people don't go to see films to think, they just want to see the next "Armageddon" or "Waterboy". So, if "Eyes Wide Shut" fails at the box-office, or is badly criticized by movie-goers, it has nothing to do with the film itself, but is more reflective of the movie-goers, and their inability to see further than what is presented to them on the screen. Life experience and a philosophical mind is also required to fully understand and enjoy this film. If you have ever thought of what role sex plays in your relationship, and what love and commitment really mean, you will understand this film. If you have ever considered what the difference between love and sex is, you will understand this film. If you have ever truly felt lust, you will understand this film. Be prepared to think.
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It's The Wizard of Oz for adults.
straker224 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Remember the Wizard of Oz? Dorothy travels to somewhere over the rainbow, follows the yellow brick road and meets the Wizard. He's a fearsome figure with a mask...but behind the mask is a fragile little man who is hiding behind his fake persona.

Now...let's apply that idea to marriage. We all wear masks, don't we? We put on a persona and we hide the truth. The wife asks if you've ever been attracted to other women and you deny it. You pretend not to notice anyone else, to spare her feelings.

So Stanley Kubrick wants to look at this idea of honesty in marriage and relationships. People naked, having sex, yet wearing masks to hide their faces, their true identities, their thoughts. What a clever image! It's a complete mirror image opposite of what we see in the world, people with bodies covered and faces exposed. Is he saying we are at our least honest when we have sex?

When Alice Harford opens up to her husband, when she "unmasks" and reveals her fantasies about another man, it stuns Dr. Bill Harford to the very core. Her honesty is too much for him. Kubrick let's us know we're in an adult Wizard of Oz. Two girls tell Bill they are taking him to "where the rainbow ends". Rainbow colored Christmas tree lights are in almost every shot and Bill gets a mask from "Rainbow costumes". And yellow...the color of that brick road, is all about. A yellow cab takes Bill on his journey to the orgy of masked, yet otherwise naked, bodies.

When Bill finally goes home, he finds his mask on his wife's pillow. It seems Alice has got his number. He too "unmasks" and confesses. Kubrick seems to be suggesting that temptation is dangerous and that the wisest and safest thing a man can do is go home to his wife and get honest with her. Take off the mask, have the courage to expose the fragile man behind the false persona.

The other nice thing is the final moment where Alice tells Bill they need to have sex as soon as possible. Sex is an act and perhaps Kubrick is also suggesting people should do it rather than talk about it if they want a happy marriage.

As a metaphor of human psychology, Eyes Wide Shut seems to be a film about the value of marriage and family life, and perhaps a film which encourages honestly between men and women, too. As a piece of film making, it's typically outstanding work for the meticulous Mr.Kubrick. It's also a very positive and optimistic film, suggesting that love, marriage and family can resist temptation and the dangers that temptation might bring. All in all, a superb motion picture from a true master of the movies.

A final word about Cruise and Kidman. Both worked long and hard, more than a year of shooting, with Stanley Kubrick and their efforts are deserving of appreciation. They both do some of their finest ever work.
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Kubrick's final masterpiece
SKG-219 July 1999
Warning: Spoilers
After three years of waiting, EYES WIDE SHUT has finally come out. So now after all this time, the delays, the rumors, the teases, the sad death of its director, Stanley Kubrick, we finally get to answer the question, Does it live up to the hype? For the first time this year, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. This is, so far, the best film I've seen this year, and it deserves its place among other Kubrick masterpieces like DR. STRANGELOVE, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

Although I had been looking forward to this film, I must admit I was unsure about it at first. After all, since CLOCKWORK, Kubrick's films(BARRY LYNDON, THE SHINING, and FULL METAL JACKET), while having some good parts, have all been somewhat flawed, particularly THE SHINING. But my misgivings were quickly put to rest within the opening scenes, where we get a glimpse of both what's right on the surface(nine happy years of marriage, wealth, a healthy 7 year old daughter, both husband and wife with jobs) and the possibility of storms that lurk underneath(the practiced way they get ready for the party, hardly looking at each other), and I stayed enthralled throughout.

Now I'd like to use this forum to deflect some of the criticisms I've read of the movie so far. One, of course, is that this is not really New York City, but a soundstage in England. I've lived in New York City and visited several times, and the surface details seem right, but more importantly, this is set in the "rich" area of Manhattan, which has always been idealized in movies(particularly the Woody Allen ones), and thus it's appropriate in a dream-like movie to play to the fantasy of the city, rather than the reality.

Secondly, we are given no hint that this is a dream Cruise's character may be walking in, since it looks so real(yes, that's inconsistent with the criticism up above, but to be fair, I've only seen a couple of reviews which make that mistake). First of all, dreams rarely look like they were designed by Salvador Dali(at least, my dreams). Secondly, if the whole nighttime sequence looked like a dream and nothing else, we would laugh when Cruise goes back to the various places he visited at night; how would he know to go back to them if they weren't real? Finally, in the way the narrative unspools, it's played like a dream, complete with scene where he might be awakening(the scene with Domino(Vinessa Shaw), the prostitute, where his cell phone rings and Kidman is on the phone right before he can do any damage).

Thirdly, that Kidman is only in the film for 40 minutes of its 2 hour, 40 minute running length. Now granted, that is all of her screen time, but when Cruise enters his "dream state", she is always in back of his mind, not just in the flashback scenes(when he imagines her having sex with the sailor she had fantasies about), but in the fact that all the other women he comes across are meant to make him think of Kidman. And her performance is certainly strong enough(especially in her monologues) to linger in the mind.

Fourth, that Cruise is completely flat here. Again, at least in the dreams I've had and read about, often in dreams we react to events, not provoke them, and that's what his character does. Secondly, Kubrick and Cruise play off of his image, to make him the object of desire of everyone he meets, and not just women(I like to think the scenes where he's harassed by a group of teenage thugs who think he's gay, and where hotel concierge Alan Cumming seems to be coming on to him, are Kubrick's way of joking about the rumors of Cruise being gay which have dogged him). For all of that, I think he plays it exactly right.

Finally, that the film is flat and not really sexy. Once again, unless it's a nightmare, dreams aren't played at MTV speed. Secondly, contrary to what we heard at first about the film, this isn't about sex. Rather, this is about sexual obsession, so it's not supposed to be about sex the act. It may seem like the film cheats a little by asking us to play off our expectations of Cruise and Kidman as a couple, so we just picture in our heads them having sex, rather than us seeing it, but isn't it good that some things are left to our imagination? Besides, it's only on the surface that things look good, as I said before.

Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to read DREAM STORY, the novella this is based on, and so have no answer to those who claim this is a poor adaptation(though what some have called stilted dialogue I think adds to the dreamlike quality, and I'm normally on the lookout for flat dialogue), and that may be true. But this is an excellent film, a fitting epitaph for Kubrick, and proof once again that Cruise can act when he's teamed with a real director.
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The Final Masterpiece From The Greatest Filmmaker Of All Time
CinemaClown22 November 2015
From the director behind influential masterpieces like The Killing, Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining & Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut marks the final entry in the decades-spanning, unprecedented & extraordinary filmmaking career of Stanley Kubrick. And just like all of his reappraised works, is a classic that unveils more of its intricate layers on multiple viewings.

Set in New York City, Eyes Wide Shut tells the story of Dr. William "Bill" Harford whose life spirals out of control when his wife tells him about an erotic fantasy she had about another man which shatters his faith in her. Unable to get the image of his wife & the other man out of his head, he embarks on a night-long adventure during which he comes extremely close to cheating on his wife & also infiltrates a quasi-religious sexual ritual at a country mansion after learning about it from a friend.

Co-written, produced & directed by Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut is a film about sexual desires that's jam-packed with symbolism & metaphorical elements. The entire film exhibits a sexually charged atmosphere and every single character inhabiting it has nothing but sex on his or her mind. Kubrick's direction makes efficient use of all his trademarks and just like before, he manages to push forward the existing boundaries of the medium while adding a few innovative tricks into the filmmaking manual in the process.

The screenplay smears the plot with multitudes of themes & insinuations, the story unfolds in a slow, methodical manner, the leading characters have an in-depth complexity which is wonderfully illustrated by the master storyteller, each sequence is meticulously detailed & technically refined, and it has a lot to say about sex, infidelity, physical relations, desires & fantasies. However, dialogue isn't one of its strengths for every time anyone says anything, the other character repeats the same as a question which becomes annoying after a while.

The technical aspects always score very high marks in Kubrick films and Eyes Wide Shut is no exception. The set pieces are gorgeously rendered, extensively detailed & beautifully lit. Cinematography encapsulates the entire picture with a bizarre, dream-like ambiance which goes on to further amplify the overall experience while also intensifying its erotic attributes. The use of colours is noteworthy while lighting here is a work of perfection. Its 159 minutes of runtime & deliberately slow pace may feel like a challenging ordeal but it never becomes an issue once the drama sets in.

The incorporation of classical songs to compliment the unfolding drama continues in Eyes Wide Shut and all the musical arrangements are wisely chosen & carefully infused into the storyline. Coming to the performances, the cast comprises of Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Marie Richardson & Todd Field. Even though both Cruise & Kidman put in commendable effort into their respective roles of Mr. & Mrs. Harford, it's actually their on- spot chemistry that makes them click so well, and while there are no definite stand-outs, the contribution by its entire cast only works in the film's favour.

On an overall scale, Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut may not be as pathbreaking as most of his masterpieces but it's nonetheless a deeply fascinating meditation on sexual relations and despite its cynical tone, manages to be an erotic, enthralling & engaging thriller. While the plot is heavy & explicit in sexual content, approaching it as a sex-romp cinema won't do enough justice for Kubrick digs much deeper into the primordial aspects of human nature to put up an exquisite looking tale that's aesthetic, artistic & unlike anything before or since. It may not be Kubrick's greatest, but it's still a genre masterpiece. Thoroughly recommended. Multiple viewings advised.
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A World of Its Own
kurosawakira21 February 2013
I remember when Kubrick passed away. I read it in the morning newspaper, and was struck with deep sadness I couldn't explain. Mind you, I was not even 12 years old at the time and had barely seen any of his films.

So I went to see "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999) at the cinema. I credit it, along with Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" (1998), as an experience that ignited my interest in film, since they were both films like I had never seen before. Sure, there's that one reason why a young lad might be interested in this, but I was so struck by its atmosphere and narrative flow that I had to read Schnitzler's "Traumnovelle". And how disappointed I was in how unalike they were. The film was in a world of its own that had a sense of time that was its own, a sense of colour that was its own, a sense of light that was its own. Every movement was languid, every word deliberate.

I never really thought about the connection between this and Malick's film until now, but really, they both move in the realm of dreams and memories and projected, subjective realities – between something that did happen (to someone) and something that might have happened. There's ellipsis, ambiguity, metaphor. Both work their magic in visual terms. I'm soaked in that light from the ball even by recalling the images in my mind as I'm writing this.

Fidelio – enter.
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A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Kubrick's swan song, and arguably his greatest
murtaza_mma8 December 2009
Stanley Kubrick is unarguably Anglo-American cinema's most potent reply to the 'Fellinis', the 'Bunuels', the 'Bergmans', the 'Kurosawas', the 'Rays', and the 'Tarkovskys' of the world. Ubiquitously known for his inexorable yearning for perfection and uncanny innovation, Kubrick had managed to hold millions of viewers worldwide in a transfixion through his brilliant works for well over four decades. Regarded by Kubrick as his very best, Eyes Wide Shut is incredibly brilliant and sui generis. It's an elixir for the sore eyes; a panacea for the perturbed souls; a surreally psychedelic pleasure. Like most of his avant-garde works, Eyes Wide Shut is open to speculation and can be interpreted in a number of ways.

Despite being rife with nudity, Eyes Wide Shut cannot be stigmatized or snubbed on the account of eroticism. On the contrary, it is aesthetic as well as thought-provoking. The movie incredibly manages to have a tremendous impact on the intellect as well as the viscera, asking incessant questions of the viewer while simultaneously haunting his thoughts and refining his imagination. The story revolves around a New York based doctor whose wife's confession of ephemeral infidelity perplexes him. Consequently, his chagrin and dudgeon drives him into a night of debauchery where he gets a lesson on sexual and moral enlightenment, which inexplicably saves him from an incipient turmoil. The cinematography is awe-inspiring to say the least and is well complemented by the plaintively haunting background score. The orgy scene, which is treated with contempt by many, is undoubtedly one of the most vivid scenes ever visualized or choreographed in the history of cinema. In fact, it is Kubrick's brilliant showmanship that makes it so very special.

Tom Cruise is absolutely brilliant and convincing in the challenging portrayal of Dr. Harford and succeeds in having an enormous impact on the viewers and also manages to evoke their empathy. The nocturnal odyssey being rife with debauchery and decadence, ironically serves as a lesson of moral reformation. Nicole Kidman is ravishingly scintillating in her portrayal. The couple has incredibly managed to mirror their real life chemistry and tension on screen.

The movie is a quintessence of cinematic excellence and can only be relished by discarding bigotry, conservatism and prejudice. The movie is a delectable feast and a must watch for patient viewers and lovers of avant-garde cinema. 10/10

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Compelling, complex observation of fidelities and fantasies
pooch-819 July 1999
With the exception of a late-occurring scene of deadening over-explanation wholly unnecessary to the film on every level (and rather unusual for Kubrick), Eyes Wide Shut is utterly sensational, and represents another gleaming jewel in the master filmmaker's already studded crown. Cruise and Kidman surpass all of their previous work, turning in spectacular performances infused with nuances only hinted at prior to this outing. Their real-life union appears to bring every bit of unique tension Kubrick intended, as the movie wholly depends on the verisimilitude of the central couple's relationship. Kubrick's tone fulfills all the promise of the title, consistently delivering an elevated texture of almost uncanny imagination perpetually hovering between fantasy and reality. The director additionally mines many of his familiar thematic concerns, including deceit, paranoia, and blinding frustration. Eyes Wide Shut is certain to be as closely scrutinized as many of Kubrick's other films (particularly because it is his final work), and its thoughtful and challenging treatment of such lightning-rod topics as marital honesty, sexual jealousy, and the perceived risks of disclosing one's fantasies (even to the single person you trust more than any other) is sure to draw some people in while pushing others away.
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Unique, truly extraordinary
Ben_hanson11126 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of my favourite films. I love the tense and psychological atmosphere throughout and every scene was fascinating in its own way. This film was not meant to be particularly sexy as many viewers were expecting. Kubrick would not have allowed it to be marketed in such a way. Many of the characters Bill meets are purely symbolic so people should not complain that they are implausible or caricatured. I would not argue with people who complain of the film's slow pace but it didn't bother me personally. Brief outline: The first part of the film sets the scene and introduces the main characters: Bill and Alice, Nick Nightingale and Ziegler. Bill and Alice's marital situation becomes clear and then her confession sets off a chain of events forming the main subject of the film. Bill has several near sexual encounters with various strangers before Nightingale points him to the mysterious masked orgy at the mansion. I found this to be one of the most sinister and haunting scenes in movie history. Bill discovers that this society is extremely private and that intruders are dealt with severely. He is spared after a woman at the orgy appears to sacrifice herself.

During the rest of the film Bill struggles to come to terms with what he has seen and remains curious, especially of what became of Nick. The film retains a strong element of mystery and only ever shows what Bill sees. Ziegler, revealed as a member of the orgy attempts to explain things to Bill and reassure him that nothing sinister went on. Can he be believed? I loved the way the film was shot and the sets were exceptional. All the characters were perfect for their role in the film and the mystery kept me interested throughout. This is a serious film but everything that happens shouldn't be taken at face value. There are many things that aren't explained and seem implausible. e.g The mask appearing on the pillow. It is not made clear that the events are imagined but they are often symbolic and should be taken allegorically. Eyes Wide Shut is flawed, the mystery could have been resolved better, perhaps with Ziegler's explanation being discredited. It remains a great film because its the brilliance that went before that sticks in the mind.
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Like all Kubrick, more than the sum of its parts.
AlWhite17 July 1999
I admire the work of Stanley Kubrick very much. All his films remain in my mind with a vitality far beyond most of the other work I see, even though the details of the films are often boring or inscrutable.

Eyes Wide Shut is no exception - there were many times in the movie where I could find no meaning or interest in an individual moment, but the overall experience is a lingering one with a deep impact - maybe Kubrick works the magic of making the spectator really _feel_ the characters turmoil and inner struggles by including so much of the mundane and seemingly unrelated incidents of "real life".

A fine conclusion to an excellent career.

p.s., being in Canada I had to put up with the "edited" version, which was certainly not subtle in its censorship. Oddly enough the couple beside me walked out from boredom, not sexual squeamishness. Should have digitally added some gunfights.
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Bill's Dream
jrp331313 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Spoiler Alert I saw Eyes Wide Shut for the fifth time this weekend. The first time I saw it at the theater, I was not really that impressed with it. Tom Cruise was out of his league on this film. The crying scene was unbelievable. I did not buy it!

The next time I saw it, I looked past the acting and the content was fascinating. Is cheating in your heart/dream/wish etc. the same as the actual physical act of cheating? I kept thinking about the line from former President Carter when he said he had "lusted in his heart." I was in high shool at the time and I thought it was way too much information for anyone over 40 let alone the President of the United States.

How you view this movie depends on where you are in your life. But this is no great revelation to anyone who is an Eyes Wide Shut or Kubrick groupie.

I just wanted to make one point that I thought of upon this viewing of the movie. In the past, I have always been mind-boggled by the plot repetition among characters, Alice as a sect member, etc. This time, I saw that maybe the entire movie may be Bill's dream. I have never understood why Alice would or even admit to giving up her child for one night with the stranger. This began my thinking that the entire point of view is that of a man, Bill.

He is the one who fantasizes about his wife with another man. He is the viewer and commentator on all sexual situations. He judges Victor Ziegler on his world of cultish sex but it is he who infiltrated this world to satisfy his own purient interests. Bill turns down the advances of a sick patient's daughter after he has just died, again passing judgment on his wife's confession of a similar situation just a few moments earlier. Tom Later calls the daughter when he is looking for sex only to have her fiancé answer the phone. Twice his interludes with a prostitute are interrupted, once by a call from his wife and then by a positive hiv test.

Bill's adventure into the world of sex orgies, prostitutes and sexual confessions of a wife read like the dreams of a middle-aged man not sexually satisfied. Keys that make me think it is a dream are 1) Alice admission that she would give up her daughter for sex with a stranger, 2) even the street names are fictitious, i.e. Wren Street, 3) if he were on a mission to have sex, in one night don't you think Bill could get some in New York, 4) Bill's continuing to investigate the organization and he has been warned and his family may be in danger and finally when Alice said at the end of the film that they need to fu--!

All these issue lead me to believe that this is a dream of Bill's where he contemplates how sex with his wife and another man stimulates him. Alice's confessions inspire him to begin his sexual adventures without repercussion. Kind of, you cheated on me now I can cheat on you. If there was an Eyes Wide Shut 2, I believe that Bill may not have the need to explore sexual liaisons outside his marriage once he awakens from his eyes wide shut.
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Limp story-telling wrapped up as semi-intellectual nonsense
Rogue-420 September 1999
And so the last chapter of the Kubrick enigma is written. Trouble is, the real enigma is why anyone thought there was one to start with.

There is a danger that Eyes Wide Shut will become, as Kubrick's last movie and the one he died making, some sort of cinematic Holy Grail, immune to all criticism. But it deserves to be said: this is a bad film. Story is glossed over with ambiguity and characterisation eliminated for, well, nothing in particular.

The primary problem is that it is a film lacking in any direction whatsoever - by the mid-way point it could have turned into an excellent thriller, or gone in another direction and been an equally compelling look at the two main character's relationship with each other. Indeed, it spent two hours building up both of these plots, but failed to deliver on either. Instead, it wandered off for the last hour in no particular direction and consistently failed to expand any of its ideas into anything resembling a plot-line, ending with a insultingly limp coda where everything was forgotten, forgiven and plastered over. It is as if halfway through, Kubrick changed his mind about what the film was about and then changed it back again for the last half hour, leaving neither element explored to any great degree.

Like most of Kubrick's films, the characters are bland, narrow and un-engaging; Tom Cruise's character bumbles from one unrelated event to the next, purely on the motivation that he feels the need to cheat on his marriage because he misjudged his wife's ability to fantasise. There is no structure to his movements through the film. It's all rather aimless. It's all rather pointless. His breakdown at the end is all the more ridiculous because he didn't actually do anything except spend a hideous amount of money not doing it. If this is an accurate analysis of relationships in the nineties, heaven help us all.

The one sub-plot that actually promises to engage any interest - a piano player friend has a job at a party that Cruise contrives to sneak into - is presented in a manner worthy of Hitchcock. The resulting party is suitably weird and has a darkly threatening conclusion. Another twenty minutes are spent turning the screws up a notch or two further. You reach a point where you are genuinely on the edge of your seat and then the whole thing fizzles out, to be left with the feeling that surely that can't be all there is to it? Maybe you have to tune in again next week for the second part...

What we are left with is an hour in the middle of the film that was completely unnecessary to the relationship of the two main protagonists, which seems to have been the main point of the film. All it serves is to inject a little weirdness into what would otherwise have been a rather banal story about the sexual jealousies of two spoiled middle-class New Yorkers. But even this isn't taken anywhere really interesting. Instead of seeing the characters under a microscope, you feel as if you watching them from the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. Any interest comes from your own desperate attempts to bring the various plot points together in some sort of cohesion.

Most frustratingly, the film is littered with well-rounded, interesting characters and ideas and, like all Kubrick films, is beautifully shot. But this simply isn't enough to make it a compelling piece of cinema. Like 2001, A Clockwork Orange and the second half of Full Metal Jacket, there is no emotional attachment to the subject - everything is presented rather coldly and clinically; even the griminess of the hooker's apartment doesn't feel that grimy. It may as well have been a documentary on fungal nail infection. The wonderful and intriguing characters - the Hungarian playboy, the neurotic and repressed daughter of one of Cruise's patients - are discarded after a single scene each. They are not taken any further. It's all a bit of a cheat, really.

Like Peter Selllars in Dr Strangelove, Jack Nicholson in The Shining, or Vincent D'Onforio in Full Metal Jacket, this film needed an actor with enough personal charisma and confidence in himself to still shine through after Kubrick's relentless directorial hammering. Instead, the entire cast go through the motions like clockwork, like someone who has said the same word over and over so many times that it no longer has any relation to its meaning. Two performances leave an impression: Alan Cummings, who has played his role so often he can slip into it effortlessly; the other is from Rade Serbedzija, who hams it up wonderfully. The rest, most disappointingly Sidney Pollack, simply glide through the film, leaving no trace of their passing.

It is human nature to try to make sense of something so pointless - let's face it, you've paid your money and you want to know what you've spent it on. The danger is that this excruciatingly blank canvas will become painted over with a lot of semi-intellectual twaddle, as self-appointed interpreters of the film preach to the countless poor souls who sat for two hours wondering when the film was going to start and the third hour in the sinking realisation that it was almost over. To say that you "get what you put in", or that "the pointlessness *is* the point" is a pathetic apology for a film with no idea what it wants to be.
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Odyssey of love, lust and reawakening.
winterhaze138 January 2005
When this film was released there was a small minority of critics who did not like this film. But like many Kubrick films Eyes Wide Shut is ahead of its time in terms of artistic impression and thought-provocation.

First I will like to talk about some of the criticisms many had about this film when it was first released. The slow pace at the beginning and the seemingly "staged atmosphere" is believed to have been created to convey a "dream-like" ambiance. I don't know whether everyone will find this film compelling but I think the ambiguity of the plot creates everything open to interpretation.

After his wife Alice(Kidman) confesses a near act of infidelity, the "good-doctor" Bill Harbord(Cruise) goes on an odyssey-like walk through the empty streets on New York (Its suppose to symbolize his spiritual emptiness), in a vindictive pursuit to prove his character as a man. When meeting his friend Nick Nightingale (Todd Field), he learns of an underground society that indulges in group sex. Realizing this is the opportunity to reassure himself he ventures into the society only to be revealed as an intruder and cast out. He then tries to retrace his steps in true Kubrick fashion.

This film like most of Kubrick's films is artsy and rigorous picture that is just simply not designed for everyone to like because contrary to what you might think it is unique and unconventional. Can you name a film that resembles Eyes Wide Shut in terms of the density of the storyline, emotionally intense, psychologically compelling and strangely thought-provoking? You likely can't because it is a anomaly in a bland and rigid film industry.

If you did not like this film, I suggest that you watch this film again and think about what I said and OPEN-UP to it. Take it for what it is trying to put forth. I've heard many people say that the first time they saw this film they did not understand it, but later came to enjoy it. And this is the case for many Kubrick films. In fact when I first saw A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as Dr. Strangelove I could not understand why the academy considers them classics, but they grew on me as well.

In the end, Eyes Wide Shut like 2001: A Space Odyssey will be a film that was misunderstood by many people when it came out but inevitably will be widely considered as another landmark in the career of the greatest film-maker of all-time.

Rating: 10/10 A Kubrick Classic
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An Onslaught Of Sight, Sound & Psychological Genius!!!
TheAnimalMother2 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Eyes Wide Shut must be one of the most under-appreciated films in the history of film. A true masterpiece that only a genius like Kubrick could create.

To me, the film is mostly about the different masks that we wear, (The personas or even disguises that we take on) throughout our relationships with people and society. As well as the fact that we sometimes have to close our eyes to certain aspects of reality or occurrence, a basic necessity for us to function with some sense of sanity. Coming to terms with accepting the reality of human imperfection is part of an undeniable theme here. This aspect is hammered home in the final scene.

It is clear with Kubrick's final work that he is the true master of sight, sound and storytelling on film. This film plays like a sonic and visual orchestra for the senses, while the subject matter swirls and pokes at the heart and mind in the most haunting and intimate of ways.

Eyes Wide Shut may just be the most open minded study of relationships and the human experience in the history of the cinema. Only the Italian master Fellini seems to even compare to Kubrick on this level of fearlessness and visionary depth.

Like most of Kubrick's works, this is a film that can easily be watched over and over again because of it's visual beauty, exquisite detail, and deep rooted themes. In my view, this film in it's own bizarre way is as good of a film as any that have ever been made.

As much of a loss as it is to lose such a great artist. Kubrick's masterful storytelling, extraordinary visions, and hauntingly honest reflections of the world live on through a collection of films that in my view, HAS NO EQUAL.

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a demanding movie
macchiato_y26 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Although the title is "Eyes wide shut", when watching this film, you have to keep your eyes wide open. This film is base on the novella 《Traumnovelle》 (Dream Story), written by Arthur Schnitzler, who Freud claimed had such an intimate affinity with. Kubrick had spent decades of time adapted the novella to the motion picture. With joint effort of two greatest minds, the film is among the most profound ones, so that requires great effort to interpret. In the very beginning of the film, Bill walked from the living room, through the bedroom, towards bathroom. This move provides us a clear establishment inside this New York couple's house. The view is clearly described by Tim Kreider as, "The paintings that cover the Harfords' walls from floor to ceiling (painted by Kubrick's wife Christiane) almost all depict flowers or food, making explicit the function of art in their environment as mere decor-art for consumption." Then followed, Alice, who just finished using the bathroom stand up, made her first frontal appearance. This obvious continuity between the paintings and Alice, combining the starting scene which displayed her naked back, implied that our main female character was also an art work that the main male character had collected. When Alice asked Bill why he wasn't jealous, the answer Bill gave is "Because you are my wife and the mother of my child." What he had in mind was that Alice was something he owned rather than the person he shared a life with. Alice talked about her fantasy to Bill that she was ready to give up every thing, including her family and her child just because of the glance of the naval officer. She was saying that in order to protest the Bill's ownership. This revealed more of the submissive position where Alice stood --- Always leading by the male. Her appearance was always associated with the mirror. As analysis in Lacan's theory:"The mirror stage is a phenomenon to which I assign a twofold value. In the first place, it has historical value as it marks a decisive turning-point in the mental development of the child. In the second place, it typifies an essential libidinal relationship with the body image" Alice constantly behavior of checking the mirror indicates of her loss of self-identification. She was familiar with being a wife and a mother---the ego characteristics required by the society. Alice looked like a serious person, wearing glasses, hardly smile. Not until she was on alcohol, pot or during dreaming, did the relax expression appeared on her face. From this we would know she repressed lots of her own desires, hide the tension, the anxiety deep down, so as to meet the demand of her husband and the society. However, when she was unconscious, she couldn't control of the desires and just let it out. The night, Bill came home from the orgy party, found her giggling during her sleep. But when woke up, she look very terrified. The transition from sleep to awaken is analog with the transition form unconscious to conscious. The four step of dream interpretation "secondary revision" could be applied to the dramatic attitude changing from being satisfied to being terrified. She feels guilty about dream cheating of her husband so she forced herself as remembering the dream as a horrific nightmare.

Bill maintained his dominant poison, identified himself as the role of the saver, using money to control people such as costume shop owner, the taxi driver and ultimately since he was the only financial support of the family, using money to control Alice. When he wanted to do something that considered as immoral or transgression, he start to searching through the unconscious to find the excuses to keep him away from being guilty. The fantasies of his wife making love with the naval officer occurring three times, each followed by the action of searching other women to fulfill his sexual needs, hooking up with the prostitute, calling his late patient's daughter who expressed her desires for him before and going to the orgy party. He needed the reason for the self gratification. And the idea of revenge to his wife's fantasized infidelity severed him well. From this we can indicate that Bill indeed is a very hypocritical person. He spared no effort finding ways to satisfy his id desires while his wife Alice tried really hard to repress it. I think the scene which he found that the mask lying on his pillow implied that he, not his wife, is the person who cheated and disguised as an honest man. Every detail in this film is carefully designed. The name of prostitute the "domino" is actually a kind of mask, which predicted the following masque in held in the Somerton. The password of the party is "Fidelio", which was the Italian for faithful. It's severs as an irony because using such word as engaging into an orgy. Also, Fidelio is Beethoven' opera telling the story of how a wife risked her life to save her husband in prison from death. It predicted the result that in the end Mandy sacrificed herself to protect Bill's life. It also was using stairs as a metaphor for social class and the dirt inside the upper ones. The higher you climb, the more bodies you might discovered in their closets. Just as the saying goes: "There is nothing accidental in Kubrick's film." Because of the films contains numerous hidden meanings and great complexity. People who watch the film at the first time often found it very confusing. Also, during the promotion, it marketed as an erotic thriller, therefore, for people who just want to watch celebrities couple having hot steamy sex on screen would be really disappointed. It's much more sophisticated and you would notice something new when you watch it again and again.
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A very unusually bad film.
Lloyd-2330 September 1999
By writing this, I am hoping that I will save people a lot of time and money. Last night I went with a friend to see Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick's final masterpiece. Supposedly, he had wanted to make this film for twenty-seven years, and spent sixty-seven weeks shooting it, an incredible amount of time for a commercial film. Being the sort of mug film buff that I am, I thought that I should go to see a film made by an acknowledged master, who had spent so much time getting it just right.

When the film finally ground to a halt, the audience in the cinema stood up and as one started muttering things like "Is that it?", "Thank goodness that's over" "Well, you can see why there are only two showings per day", "What a pile of ****". I have never heard a cinema audience respond so negatively to a film before. We talked about it, and we had not a single kind word to say about it. I have thought about it since, and find it void of redeeming features.

It is badly photographed. The sets are often unconvincing. The acting is mediocre. The continuity is poor. The lighting is awful. The picture quality is poor. It looks as though it was shot on 16mm, and the prints were made at Boots. Hardly anything happens which is believable. There are gaping holes in the plot. Worse than all the above, it is incredibly slow. At no point does the pace quicken. It is wildly too long. Every single conversation happens at a snail's pace. Almost every conversation is punctuated by very long awkward pauses. It seems as though Stanley thought about every scene so much in isolation, that each scene took on great significance, and to get the importance of what was happening across, he dwelt on every word and action. Every scene could be halved in length and lose nothing and gain much.

I was expecting a film in which Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise play roughly equally large parts. The film is almost entirely about the Tom Cruise character. I was expecting an intelligent exploration of jealousy and relationships and the like. Instead we get half way to a thriller, but not all the way, not enough to make it interesting, and there is no intelligent comment on human nature, nor, so far as I can tell, on anything.

This film takes itself so amazingly seriously, and yet is transparently ludicrous from start to finish. Human beings don't behave like that. Nothing made sense. Characters kept acting on information which they didn't have. The various parts of the world were not using the same clock. The sun kept rising and falling at odd times, and characters would go back to somewhere they'd been the day before, to find that no one there had moved, changed clothes, or even finished what they were saying.

Yes, there is a bit of nudity in it, but this is presented in scenes of such unnecessary length, and such little incident, that you just wish they'd get on with the next scene.

Having more recently spoken to several other people who saw it, I have encountered near-uniform condemnation of this shamefully bad film. One person fell asleep during it several times. One had to apologise to the five people who went with her to see it, who all hated it (it had been her idea to go to see it). Only two people reportedly enjoyed it, but they enjoyed it solely because they thought that it was so bad that it was funny. I say that it is too dull and slow to be found entertaining that way.

I would thoroughly recommend this film to people I intensely dislike.
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Stands up to every Kubrick fan's expectations.
filmnuts14 July 1999
When compared to such films as Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, or Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut has some great shoes to fill. Yet, it manages to meet every possible expectation, and then some. It starts with Dr. Bill Harford, played by Tom Cruise, and his wife Alice Harford, played by Nicole Kidman at an expensive party given by one of their friends. Each are properly being pursued by attractive members of the opposite sex. In a later discussion of such matters by the bed, and with a little help from some narcotics, an argument breaks out surrounding the tense subject of sexual fantasy and infidelity. Upset, by this new information, Bill is exposed to many new and dangerous sexual encounters. Kubrick takes full artistic license when using a very grainy film stock which gives the film a classic and almost warm feeling. But once things get a little harry, his tight close ups and slow zooming in adds to the uncomfortable feelings presented on the screen. Kubrick also uses spectacular lighting, and the sound of a solo piano to deeply intensify every uncomfortable situation. Eyes Wide Shut, though dealing with sexual subject manor, is handled professionally, with a touch of Kubrick just to make everything absolutely perfect.
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Lucid Dreaming
tedg21 November 2000
Kubrick is hard for me to get, and this film in particular. From my research, it seems as if he is one of those filmmakers who sees himself as a storyteller, with little desire to explore the limits of film as film. That's common enough and at root not very interesting. But Kubrick tries to be an innovator within that relatively narrow context by examining novel ways of telling his story.

Here we have a relatively simple device. A married couple both dream of infidelities. In both cases, their unconsummated fantasies turn into highly threatening situations. Kubrick's trick is to have the husband's dream presented as if it were `real.' What follows is an experiment in inserting surreal dream dynamics into seemingly solid time. Kubrick employs a few otherwise inexplicable elements, like the title and the mask on the pillow.

It works, but the result produces no great dramatic effect, no exciting narrative perspective.

A side note. I continue to be amazed at the extra content of DVDs, Why would actors agree to be interviewed in such a way that it makes them appear so incredibly dumb?
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