Open Your Eyes (1997) Poster

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Attention: do NOT watch Vanilla Sky before watching this first!
Infofreak1 June 2002
Sadly due to the lack of availability of 'Open Your Eyes' in Australia (until now) I saw Cameron Crowe's 'Vanilla Sky' first. Too bad. 'Open Your Eyes' is the original and best version, and would have impressed me even more if the surprises in the plot hadn't been ruined for me by the remake. So I strongly urge you to watch this movie first for maximum impact. It's a real killer, and especially recommended if you are a fan of mind-blowing movies such as Frankenheimer's underrated 'Seconds', Cronenberg's brilliant 'Videodrome' and 'eXistenZ'), or have read a Philip K.Dick novel or two.

Eduardo Noriega (star of Amenabar's previous movie, the taut, suspenseful 'Tesis', also worth a look) is much more believable than Tom Cruise as the increasingly baffled protagonist caught in a never-ending nightmare, and Penelope Cruz's performance here is subtler and more appealing than her reprise of Sofia in Crowe's overblown and self-indulgent remake. Alejandro Amenabar has made three excellent imaginative thrillers in a row, and looks like being one of the most potentially exciting directors currently working. 'Open Your Eyes' comes with my highest recommendation. This one is essential viewing.
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Astonishing....and really depressing
burndown616 April 2001
Go see this film. Now. I'll wait.

Okay, this film is truly one of the most excellent mixtures of genres I have ever seen. It will leave you truly moved, truly surprised, and truly depressed. That's okay, though, because this is such a wonderful movie. The film centers around the life of a rich and handsome young man after a disfiguring accident. We are taken along as he tries to find a way to grow accustomed to a life without the things he relied on (mainly looks) before. After hitting rock bottom, things start to get better for him, and it is here that the seamless weaving of genres occur. I don't want to give too much away, but the film constantly keeps you on your toes and never grows dull. "Abre los Ojos" is a truly stunning love story, psychological thriller, and science fiction film all rolled into a flawless whole. Do yourself a favor and see it before the Cameron Crowe remake, "Vanilla Sky", does to this film what "City of Angels" did to "Wings of Desire".
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MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD -- Also brilliant analysis
damiancarroll19 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Many previous posters can't seem to get past the "it was just a dream" ending. Fair enough, but what's important here is that the dream is *created* by Cesar. As Duvernois tells him, the virtual reality is set up to show him what he wants to see. Thus when his life takes a turn for the worse, it's because he wants it to happen that way. The question is, why would somebody who had the opportunity to create a perfect life turn it into a nightmare?

The solution lies in the shallowness of Cesar's character. He is a totally self-centered individual, a man who depends on his money and looks to get him whatever he wants. Metaphorically, he is the man in his dream in the opening scene -- alone in an empty city of his own creation. His friendship with Pelayo is in name only. His claims of "love" for Sophia are, at least at first, just as shallow - inspired by pictures on a wall, and easily tossed aside when Nuria offers him a freebie.

Why, then, does the dream go bad? Because once Cesar's face is disfigured, he sees that Sophia only loved his outer beauty. He sees that money can't buy him happiness - it can't even buy him a new face. He sees how easily his "best friend" turns away from him when the going gets rough. And Cesar is never able to resolve these issues while alive - indeed, he chooses suicide to rid himself of the pain. But just as our dreams show us truths we'd rather not face, Cesar's dream brings back these questions in the form of contradictions. What if he, like Sophia, fell in love only have his lover reappear as somebody he didn't recognize? (In his case, Sophia switched for Nuria.) What if only he could see how ugly he really was? Cesar's dream goes bad because he wants it to go bad -- as he is trying to figure out the "reality" of his physical life, he is also probing the reality of his soul.

I found this to be a fascinating movie, not despite the ending but because of it. Like this year's Mulholland Drive, the film examines the way we construct our dreams both to hide reality and to better understand it. I give it a 9.
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gridoon17 August 2004
"Abre Los Ojos" is one of the most astonishing movies I have ever seen. It's so full of astounding twists that it constantly makes you sit up and wonder what the next shot will bring you. At the same time, you keep wondering if a movie with so many twists will be able to tie everything up at the end, but Amenabar and his co-writer manage to do just that, in a reasonably (if not perfectly) satisfying manner. Eduardo Noriega's acting is so good it's beyond belief, and so is the "disfiguring" makeup. Pair this off with "The Game" for a truly mind-bending double feature and see what cinema should be like more often. (***1/2)
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So superior to Vanilla Sky that you have to see it to believe it
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews17 June 2005
How I wish I had seen this film before seeing Vanilla Sky. There is so much subtlety, so many interesting ideas in this that have been butchered or simply lost in translation in the Hollywood version. The ending of Vanilla Sky pretty much explains everything... Abre Los Ojos leaves most of it up to interpretation and the viewers' imagination. Upon my recent second viewing, I realized how many hints there are towards the twist in the film, and how many ideas and subjects for good discussion that are in the film. The direction in Vanilla Sky seemed fine before, but in comparison, it's really daft and unimaginative. The majority of the good stuff in VS is stolen directly from ALO. A lot of it is changed to fit Hollywood's standards(and we all know how... high... they are), and the authenticity of the great idea is almost lost through this. This is the third Alejandro Amenabar movie I've seen(the other two are Thesis and The Others), and definitely my favorite so far. Not many films can catch and keep your interest even when you've already seen a (bastardized and cheaper) version of it already. I couldn't take my eyes off it. Like Amenábar's other films, this is slow and deliberate(whereas Crowe's version, in comparison, seems somewhat rushed, trying to get to the end as fast as possible, despite being a full half hour longer), and it really works to the films benefit. The music is wonderful, and it fits perfectly in every scene. The mood and atmosphere of the film is great. The effects are excellent... by comparison, those of Vanilla Sky are overly flashy and obvious. Here, they're beautiful and very subtle, like the rest of the film. The cinematography is very good, and far superior to that of VS. I realize that this seems more like a comparison between the two films than a review, but I can't seem to find the words to express just how great this is. See it for yourself. And in the name of all that is good and just, see it before you even consider watching Vanilla Sky. I recommend this to fans of intelligent films and/or Alejandro Amenábar. This is quite probably the best film he has made so far(though I haven't seen Mar Adentro yet). 9/10
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We See Only What We Choose to.
nycritic10 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There are some movies that due to their complex nature defy one interpretation and can't be pegged into a certain category. Much has been said -- in fact, entire books have been written -- about Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO which started as a routine thriller to turn into something completely revelatory.

OPEN YOUR EYES (ABRE LOS OJOS) falls into that vein of films and in doing so establishes Alejandro Amenabar as one of the most original writer-directors making films today. Here is the story of Cesar (Eduardo Noriega), a spoiled rich kid who lives in a swanky loft apartment in Madrid, Spain, and who carries an apparently no-strings-attached sexual affair with Nuria (Najra Nimwri), but who one night falls hopelessly in love with his best friend's girlfriend Sofia (Penelope Cruz). Nuria in a jealous frenzy decides to take matters into her own hands and literally drives Cesar into an accident where she dies and he wakes up, his face disfigured beyond repair. His life in shambles, Sofia beyond reach, and virtually a freak of nature, he decides to take one last step in regaining his lost life... and here is when the film becomes something totally unpredictable.

Amenabar is extremely clever in weaving together elements of very different genres in a way one would never tell when it moves from one to the next. In doing so, there is no way one can ever second-guess what may or may not be the next step in this very intricate story that has to be seen at least a second time, and here is where the wonderful suspense lies -- one that would have had Hitchcock beaming with a smug smile in seeing someone had got it right after he had created (and redefined) suspense film after film. Stunning, maybe a little complicated for some, OPEN YOUR EYES will really make you open your eyes and pay attention.
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Very impressive; if you can, PLEASE see this before Vanilla Sky!
mattymatt4ever14 February 2003
"Vanilla Sky" turned out to be a moderate success and scored great reviews by most critics, and I liked it myself. But if you compare it to this film, there's almost nothing different! But of course, it's all Cameron Crowe's fault and not the fault of the director of this movie. Luckily, I haven't seen "VS" in a while, so certain surprises in the plot still intrigued me. And I was intrigued throughout the film, I think even moreso than with "VS."

Tom Cruise is a fine actor, and I have nothing against him. But I always appreciate seeing unknown actors (at least they're unknown to me; I don't live in Spain, so they might be superstars there) give fine performances. The actor who plays the main character in this film as just as effective as Cruise. He is an extremely attractive man and knows how to express a plethora of emotions. I've never been a big fan of Penelope Cruz's work in the states, because her English still isn't great and that clearly shows in the mangled expression of her dialogue. But in her native language she shows great talent. And since I find her much more attractive than I used to, I'm more appealed by her in the looks department. Plus, as a man I must reveal she has a great nude scene in the film.

One element of the plot that I don't think Crowe's "VS" expressed as well was the jealousy between the handsome main character and his best friend. I was able to connect with that portion of the story, since I have a best friend like the main character who's charming girls left and right, while I (the average guy) have virtually no appeal to the ladies. I know what it's like to possess that sort of envy, and so do the average guys all around who see handsome guys doing the same things we do, but get more favorable results just on account of their good looks. The film also expresses the theme that no matter how many times most attractive men claim their looks are of no importance to them, if their looks were one day to be stolen from them, they'd lose the will to live.

I'm sure if I saw "Vanilla Sky" after this movie, I'd enjoy it a lot less. This is sheer proof that the general American public is too lazy to read subtitles. Because if you were watching the DVD of "VS" and switched the language channels from English to Spanish, it's the same damn movie! And now I feel sorry for the director of this movie, since he's the genius behind this genuinely original story, but Cameron Crowe comes along and takes all the credit. I am not one of those grouches who hates remakes, but if you're going to remake a film, put your own spin on it! Don't take all the original ideas and conduct it with different actors! And wait a couple decades for God's sake! "Open Your Eyes" was released in 1997 and "VS" only four years later. So unless you're illiterate, please see "Open Your Eyes" before you even consider "Vanilla Sky"!

My score: 8 (out of 10)
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Just great entertainment from beginning to end
raymond-1526 July 2004
Although the plot is confusing at times, a second viewing helps to untangle the convoluted story about dreams and reality. Most of the time we are not sure if what we are watching is really happening or whether it is a profoundly disturbing nightmare. Cesar (Edouardo Noriega) whose head is badly fractured in a high speed car crash quite understandably has blurred recollections of events involving his good buddy Pelayo and his girl friends Sofia and Nuria. As his doctor explains: In dreams characters are often substituted, one for the other.

There is much I like about this film. First of all I like the script. The dialogue between Sofia and Cesar at first meeting and afterwards is so natural, so believable. The four main characters are absolutely charming and have a rapport between each other that is rarely seen in films. This is either good casting or good acting, or maybe a bit of both. As the story unfolds we are completely absorbed. This is true entertainment on the highest level. O.K. we may not be fully cognisant of what is happening at times, but we glue ourselves to the screen expecting that an explanation will come in due course.

There are some chilling lines e.g. Just before Nuria steps on the accelerator: "Do you believe in God?"

There are some mysterious questions put to Cesar e.g. "Who is Eli? You called out 'Eli...Eli' while you were dreaming. Is she a girl?" No such person. What then? The mystery deepens.

There is quality photography in the film. The rain in the park. And before that the reflections of foliage flashing in the car windows with glimpses of tense faces.

The make-up team too does a great job On Cesar's handsome face. What a transformation!

On top of all this we get a lesson on cryonics and the possibility of immortality. What more do you want for your money?

Take it from me. This is a film you must see.
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Abre Los Ojos is much better than Vanilla Sky
epeck153 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I recently watched Abre Los Ojos. That prompted me to then rent Vanilla Sky. I relate that only because the order in which you see these movies is important. Specifically, by the time I saw VS, I knew everything about the story, and there was no longer any sense of unraveling a mystery that is an important part of these movies. But that is not all. On almost every score, Abre Los Ojos is the better movie. First the acting. In ALO, Penelope Cruz is sweet, loving and heartbreakingly beautiful. Reprising the same role in VS, she struggles with her Spanish accent, and there is absolutely no chemistry between her and Tom Cruise. Also, her character in VS repeatedly engages in a strange kind of smart-alecky banter that is not funny and is just plain misplaced in this movie. And yes, I hate to say it, but Ms. Cruz is nowhere near as attractive in VS as she was in ALO. Watch the movies back-to-back and the difference is startling. As for the other characters, I thought the spurned female role was better done in ALO. The actress who played Nuria in ALO conveyed a palpable sense of desperation and sadness, but also vulnerability. When she kills herself, and tries to take Cesar with her, it's believable. Not so with Cameron Diaz's portrayal of that same character in VS, who comes off as a spoiled tramp whose decision to kill herself seems like a hissy fit. That may not be all her fault. For instance, during the critical scene where she kills herself and tries to kill Cruise, Diaz is forced to utter dialog that is dopey and distractingly vulgar. Nuria has more grace, and more depth. Tom Cruise is not a terrible male lead, but the Spanish actor who played Cesar in ALO is much better suited for the role. He is younger, and portrays youthful arrogance and insouciance perfectly. There is also an innocence about him that Cruise can no longer do. Especially physically. At times in VS, I was thinking more about Tom Cruise's weightlifting regimen more than the mental anguish of his character. Unlike the crippling sadness of Cesar, Cruise's character is a turbo-charged superstar. In fact, it's not until the final scene, when the truth unravels itself, that Cruise finally brings his performance down to a human level. Last, the music. ALO has an unobtrusive, Hitchcockian score (see Vertigo to get my drift) that is haunting, and is very effective in creating a brooding, dreamlike atmosphere. Cameron Crowe's blaring soundtrack in VS, conversely, is a slick pop cliché that detracts, instead of enhances, the experience. The musical differences really do speak volumes here. ALO is dark, ethereal, and moving. VS is loud, brash, and coarse.
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zzzzzzippp24 January 2001
I went into this movie with no reservations and was pleasantly astonished by it. I advise anyone else to do the same; it is not like the Matrix, it is not like Hitchcock, it simply exists in its own right.

The film attempts to be at least two movies in one. Unlike numerous attempts in the industry, it succeeds elegantly. I was drawn into the first part, the character portrait of the wealthy, shallow young man who undergoes a startling change... and then found myself swept up in a keenly sympathetic, psychological suspense film. Part of the success of the story is that it is centered primarily around several young, uncomplicated characters. In Hollywood, such characters in suspense films are usually knifed up within the first few pages of script.

I don't look for anything positive in the upcoming American remake, incidentally. This is a film with depth and yet simplicity, truth and fantasy. It is a pure pleasure to watch, and it simply can not be improved upon without becoming gaudy and confusing.
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Intriguing and Fascinating Journey to Paranoia
Claudio Carvalho13 September 2010
The handsome and wealthy César (Eduardo Noriega) is very successful with women and is having difficulties to get rid off Nuria (Najwa Nimri) that is his last affair. His best friend is Pelayo (Fele Martínez), who is unlucky with women and jealous of his friend. On his birthday party, César meets the gorgeous and sexy Sofia (Penélope Cruz) that is dating Pelayo and they have a crush on each other and spend the night together in her apartment. On the next morning, César finds Nuria stalking him in front of Sofia's building and he accepts her ride home. However, she commits suicide crashing her car against a wall and César survives the crash, but with his face completely destroyed. The doctors do not have technology to restore his face and César is absolutely depressed and missing Sofia. One night, César meets Sofia and Pelayo in a bar and he drinks too much, falling on the street. However, on the next morning, Sofia finds César on the street and kisses him telling that she loves him. Then the doctors tell him that they are able to fix his face. Out of the blue, César's happiness changes and he finds that he is trapped in a nightmare.

"Abre los Ojos" is an intriguing and fascinating thriller with a journey to paranoia. The twenty-five year-old genius Alejandro Amenábar wrote and directed this masterpiece that is certainly the source of inspiration of "The Matrix", with the concept of virtual reality. This film is among my top-ten ever and the last three times that I watched it was on 16 November 2001, 26 October 2002 and yesterday, but the impact is never reduced with the awesome story and screenplay. The American cinema industry once again decided to destroy this piece-of –art with the ridiculous remake "Vanilla Sky" that is only a shadow of "Abre los Ojos". My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Preso na Escuridão" ("Imprisoned in the Darkness")
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Vanilla Sky versus Abre los Ojos
stamper20 December 2003
Well, as it is in most ‘fights' one has to see both before being able to see who the winner is and in this case it is Abre los Ojos (the original). It is not THAT MUCH better than Vanilla sky, but the ending does the trick. The ending in Abre los ojos, is much better and more comprehensible than the vague and somewhat pointless ending in Vanilla Sky, which makes the film just a notch better than the star-laden Hollywood remake. The other parts of the films are mostly equal to one another (except Cruz' looks, which are much better than in Vanilla Sky, which is mostly due to the stupid haircut she had in that American film) or should I say, the rest Cameron Crowe copied from Abre los ojos. If there is one thing that I didn't like about this film, is how it was spoiled for me by having seen Vanilla Sky earlier. Almost everything Crowe copied, which made this film rather boring at times and which also makes it difficult for me to rate this one. I can tell you though, that if could choose again I'd definitely see Abre los Ojos first and not see Vanilla Sky at all.

7,5 out of 10 (for the statistics, with a 7 to be handed out on voting)
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I Won't Mention That Other Movie ...
Theo Robertson10 April 2005
... You know the one I'm talking about , the one with Tom Cruise

OMG this review is impossible without mentioning VANILLA SKY , I mean not only is it a remake of ABRE LOS OJO but it's almost scene for scene the exact same movie , in fact since it's got Penelope Cruz in the exact same role as the original you can't even say VANILLA SKY is the same movie with an entirely different cast !

That's the problem with having seen the remake first because it's very difficult to comment on ABRE LOS OJOS because I knew exactly where the movie was heading when Cesar stepped out of his car and surveyed the empty city scape at the start of the movie . This familiarity of the story ruined the movie for me . If only I'd seen this before Hollywood remade it !

Strangely enough Channel 4 broadcast this the night before they broadcast VANILLA SKY and it's obvious that the strengths of the Alejandro Amenaber original have become weaknesses in Crowe's remake . Eduardo Noriega might not be a film star but he is an actor , when watching him play Cesar he is Cesar . When watching Cruise play David you're aware of a movie star playing a disfigured character , his casting against type makes the audience aware that despite the shock revelation at the end it's only a movie . Amenaber thankfully doesn't drown the audience with pop culture references every five seconds unlike Crowe and because of this the audience can concentrate on the mind bending but totally rewarding plot a lot more

Incidentally I awarded this movie seven out of ten the same mark as I gave the remake . If I saw the prior film first I would have almost certainly have given it a higher mark while possibly giving VANILLA SKY a lower one
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Stunning, complex sci-fi
bob the moo16 March 2002
César has been left rich by his restaurant owning parents. When he meets the beautiful Sofia at a party he uses her as a way to escape his jealous ex Nuria. After a night of talking with Sofia, César is picked up by Nuria who crashes her car deliberately killing her and horribly disfiguring him. With surgery limited as to what it can achieve César despairs at his loss (his looks, not Nuria) and tries to pick up with Sofia. However when surgery returns his looks he thinks everything is solved – but his dreams become more vivid blurring his sense of reality. He tells his fragmented story to a physiatrist in a mental institution/prison where he waits trail for murder.

Suddenly this little beauty is being sought out – even if Vanilla Sky is mixed, at least it put the original on the bigger stage. The story is magnificently set out – it builds slowly and you never know the full story – even the ending requires you to catch up really quickly. Not knowing what's going on at some points may frustrate some audiences, but it just drives this film on. It is a little far fetched at points but it's handled so well that you don't mind. The story is laced with emotion and passion – the ending is moving for so many reasons that I won't spoil.

Director Amenádar delivers a visually great film – he uses the dream sequences well and regularly contrasts the beauty and the twisted face of César. He delivers a story that is stylish and clever, using his cast to spin out a human drama before launching into the realm of science fiction.

Noriega is great as the conceited César – his character and his fate can both be taken as comments on vanity and the importance of image – and he is more than able to handle all the sides to his character. Cruz is good here too – she is quite attractive and plays well in a smallish role. The most underrated performance is given by the physiatrist – his role becomes bigger at the end and he handles the complexities thrust upon his character well.

Overall this is a superb film that mixes a clever plot, good acting, a great script and stylish direction. It may lose some of it's impact once you know the full story and it should be enjoyed as freshly as possible – but it will stand repeat viewings to get the full picture.
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The new brains of fantasy film.
dbdumonteil5 July 2002
Alejandro Amenabar is the new brains of the fantasy film,and maybe of the European cinema.Take the snuff movie topic :he did much better than Shumacher's "8 mm".Now he takes an hackneyed subject which has been treated many times and surprises the audience.

Combining Georges Franju 's "les yeux sans visage" (1960)-for the strange poetry which emanates from the mask the hero(heroine in the French movie) wears-,Adrian Lyne's "Jacob's ladder" and what will be LATER developed in "matrix" or "the sixth sense" ,Amenabar creates a disturbing,absorbing and mesmerizing movie.He succeeds in surprising the audience the way only Alfred Hitchcock could do before:the movie begins as some kind of two-bit comedy,with such futile subjects as trying and picking someone up and parties,then slowly but inexorably grips the audience's mind ,and the interest won't weaken till the very end.Like in "psycho" or "Rosemary's baby" or "Jacob's ladder" ,nothing should be revealed.

For the French,there's another surprise:Serge Duvernois is played by Gérard Barray.This actor was very famous in the sixties for playing in swashbucklers the likes of "Pardaillan" "Surcouf" and "les trois mousquetaires".He was some kind of Jean Marais's alter ego.Then he completely disappeared from the screens in the late sixties(he probably became a stage actor).So I had not seen him for thirty years or more!Seeing him in such a spooky part adds to the eerie atmosphere.I wish the French directors could think of him a little more now.
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My first Alejandro Amenábar movie and I liked it.
SummerMood20 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Abre los ojos......abre los ojos.... open your your eyes.... This is how the movie begins...

César is a real playboy.He sleeps with a woman for one time and then he never calls them again. But one night he sleeps with Nuria, what he doesn't know is that she seems to love him very much. But on his birthday party he meets Sofia(Cruz), his best friends girlfriend. Nuria is also on his birthday party and sees him leaving the apartment with Sofia, after Pelayo, his best friend, left.

The next morning: César left Sofia's apartment and wants to drive home when he sees Nuria waiting in front of the apartment. She asks him if she should bring him home. He says yes and that's how he comes into her car. What he didn't know is that she thinks about committing suicide. So they drive along the street and in one moment Nuria drives against a wall. She's dead, César survives but he lost his face. After that event César wears a mask to cover his real face. He comes into a psychiatry because he killed somebody, but César doesn't know what happened. Together with his psychiatrist he tries to remember what happened. And he remembered. One night he slept with Sofia but he hadn't seen Sofia, he saw Nuria so he was that confused that he pulled a cushion on her face so she couldn't breath. But there was something else that he remembered. He remembered that he signed a contract. And this contract is from a company for "Life Extension". So he and his psychiatrist drive to this company and talk with the boss and find out that everything that César did was a dream. His body had been frozen 150 years ago and he lived a dream with all the people he loved. To wake up he had to jump from a building. He did and that's how the movie ends.

This is a great movie. My second Spanish movie and I like both very much. Alejandro Amenábar is great director. Now the actors. Eduardo Noriega was great. He played fantastic. He had to be funny and in the next moment he had to be terrific and confused. He did a great job. Perfect cast for this role. And then there is Penelope Cruz. I knew that she is a great actress...but now I know that she is brilliant. She is so beautiful in this movie you want to die lol And she did a excellent job too. She played fantastic. So I would say that this movie should get 9 stars because it is that good. Absolutely worth seeing!
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Well, it makes more sense than Vanilla Sky did
hall89528 November 2011
There once was a movie called Vanilla Sky. It made very little sense. It really was a thoroughly confusing mess. That movie was an English-language remake of this Spanish-language one. If nothing else Open Your Eyes at least makes more sense than Vanilla Sky did. Oh, there's still plenty of confusing stuff here but director Alejandro Amenábar manages to pull it together much better than Cameron Crowe ever did in the remake. The fact that I think the story makes much more sense when presented in a language I don't even understand is about as damning a statement as can be made about Crowe's film. Open Your Eyes is clearly the better film of the two. But it comes with its own frustrations. Maybe this story was just a little too convoluted to ever make a thoroughly enjoyable movie out of.

Open Your Eyes is a movie which delights in messing with your mind. This is a movie which demands that you be fully engaged when watching it. Turn off your brain and start daydreaming and you'll be lost. The movie's main character, César, has plenty of disorienting experiences which can leave the viewer feeling more than a little disoriented himself. It's a hard movie to pin down. It flashes back and forth in time, it raises questions about what is real and what is imagined. It takes you right inside César's head. Unfortunately César's darned near lost his mind so going inside his head isn't going to give us much clarity.

It's best to not say much about the plot because whatever joy you get from this movie will likely come from your attempts to unravel the plot for yourself. If you've already seen Vanilla Sky you unfortunately pretty much know everything. The ending of Vanilla Sky was such a letdown, and made so little sense whatsoever, that as you watch Open Your Eyes you can't help but have very low expectations. You're waiting to be let down and to be thoroughly baffled. Happily Amenábar's ending is a little more focused than Crowe's was. Where Vanilla Sky went completely off the rails Open Your Eyes takes some strange twists and turns but you can follow along if you try. The movie asks you for some serious suspension of disbelief but at least it doesn't throw so much stuff at you that it becomes utter nonsense like Vanilla Sky did. Give some credit to Eduardo Noriega whose performance in the lead role of César is much stronger than Tom Cruise's corresponding star turn in the remake. And this movie's Penélope Cruz also comes across much better than that movie's Penélope Cruz. Strange how the same actress playing the same role can be so much better in one movie than in the other. Maybe it's her comfort level with the language, maybe it's just that she's surrounded by a better movie than she was in Vanilla Sky. Open Your Eyes is not a great movie, a little too convoluted for its own good. Somewhat slow, not always as dramatic and engaging as you would hope. But all in all the movie does have an intriguing story which, if you can wrap your head around it, makes the movie worth seeing. For whatever flaws the movie may have you can understand what Crowe saw in it. Too bad he made such a mess of it when he got his hands on it.
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Having seen the original, I have no desire to see the remake.
Lee Eisenberg24 July 2007
While some people may call "Abre los ojos" ("Open Your Eyes" in English) a psychological thriller, I wish to assert that such a description would be like calling "West Side Story" a plain old musical. This movie blew my mind like almost no other movie has done. I almost wasn't sure whether or not I could trust my own judgment after watching it, see what happens to Eduardo Noriega's character Cesar.

I believe that I had seen an ad for this movie before it got released in the US, but it really entered my vocabulary after the release of Tom Cruise's remake. Well, seeing what a great job they did with the original, it's probably safe to assume that the remake is nothing but an excuse to show off Tom Cruise. I, for one, believe that Penelope Cruz has done far better work in her native Spain than outside. So stick with the original and you won't get disappointed.
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cedarsave25 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I haven't seen VS, and on this evidence, have no need to. It's obvious why Hollywood chose it as a perfect cash cow, though - it's shallow beyond expression.

I think this is mystery moviemaking for the X files generation. The cinematic touches are admittedly, excellent - score, cinematography, casting, clever twists. But there's no movie inside it all. Abre los Ojos is a lot of icing and no cake.


As with most crossover sci-fi these days, the science fiction in itself is a mutilated version of a Philip K Dick story (I Hope We Will Arrive Soon), with the message clinically removed. The chief theme of this film must surely be the changing mental state of the protagonist - in whose head, after all, the majority of the action takes place, right?

As it happens, no. Here's a plot summary. The protagonist's irresponsible and misogynist playboy lifestyle gets him mutilated - a result worse than death for this shallow, vain exploiter. He can't handle it, because he is so very mentally weak, and tops himself, promised a cryogenic paradise. This is a man who counters the loss of a privileged lifestyle granted him (and denied to most of the world) by his *inherited* good looks NOT by facing up to a more interesting and profound existence in the real world, but by retreating to another granted him and denied to others this time by his *inherited* wealth.

So, in his dream world we are to find salvation for this vain, shallow man, right? His emptiness will haunt him by undermining his dream from the inside, and through the collapse of his dream paradise he will experience something greater than he ever experienced in life as he grows to love a woman entirely his own conjectural creation, based only on tidbits he picked up about an unusual stranger in the real world?

Well, actually no. In fact that his dream does get all mixed up - but for no reason, and with no purpose or direction. As a result of this he becomes a murderer and spends some time being rather surly and unrepentant in an asylum. However, through a bit of not-particularly-difficult detective work (for the pursuit of which, remember, he has an eternity, and, in the course of which, he murders again) he manages to get himself granted a second chance at real life, complete with a reconstructed face and an unreconstructed personality. Well, I'm so pleased for the weak, shallow, murderous, misogynist monster.


To conclude, this is a movie entirely without message and for that reason is an abhorrence. It is considerably worsened by its laughably feeble attempt to give itself a full explanation at the end. We have long become accustomed to cod science in science fiction, but this movie's complete lack of irony or concession to its own scientific inanity is really very insulting, especially given that the scientific hollowness is not an expedient for a significant message, as it is in the PKD short story.

About half way through the movie, there is a very skilful little homage to Jacob's Ladder, with a shot of the sun shining through some treetops, moving gently from bottom of the screen to the top. Believe me, Jacob's Ladder has everything Abre Los Ojos lacks, and for that reason, is a very good film indeed.
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Better than Vanilla Sky
esoestudos11 June 2017
Just in order to say "Abre Los Ojos" is much better than "Vanilla Sky". The atmosphere, all the charm, anyway... The rhythm! This movie has concepts that have been used by many others. Nevertheless it is unpublished by the script well elaborated. Tom Cruise soon realized that it was an engaging story, which catches the eye of the movie buff. However the Spanish film is much better.
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Thrilling and surprising story full of suspense , plot twists , intrigue and excitement
ma-cortes29 June 2013
This film Abre Los Ojos or 'Open your ears' (1997) was a huge success in Spain and was distributed worldwide . This suspenseful movie starts when the protagonist appears moving by an empty Madrid's Gran Vía, without cars or people . It concerns about a very handsome young named Cesar (Eduardo Noriega) , as he meets the beautiful and sexy Sofia (Penelope Cruz), currently dating Pelayo (Fele Martinez) , but they are immediately attracted to each other finds the love of his life , but a girl (Najwa Nimri) is completely obsessed with him . He then suffers an accident and needs to have his face rebuilt by surgery after it is severely disfigured .

The motion picture displays genuine chills , suspense, mystery and dark atmosphere with a twisted finale . Packs excellent creation of tension , thriller , emotions and brief violence . The film's title translates to "open your eyes," which is a repeated motif . It's an exciting , bizarre film ; skillfully proceeded by Alejandro Amenabar and turns out to one of the most unusual Spaniard suspense movie ever made and certainly one of the most unsettling . Plenty of twists and turns , the strange images deliver the excitement united a thrilling score by the same Alejandro Amenabar , including some wonderful songs such as the song playing at the nightclub when César first arrives is "Rising Son" by Massive Attack, in which the phrase "dream on" is frequently repeated . Furthermore , Alejandro also wrote , along with Mateo Gil, the interesting plot , embarking into the phantasmagorical, psychological or even quasi-surrealist story . In fact , Alejandro Amenábar imagined the script after having horrible nightmares while ill with the flu. It includes director Cameo , as Alejandro Amenábar appears with other two people in the bathroom of the disco, when César goes there . Intelligent edition, special use of luxurious sets by Wofgang Burmann and slick utilization of shock images make this one, a magnificent film . Abre Los Ojos (1997) is his "remake" of Vértigo (1958), by Hitchcock. In fact, when the character of Sofia appears after hitting Cesar with a jar, it's the same shot of Kim Novak in Vertigo when she appears from the bathroom in the hotel - with green lights . Colorful and glowing cinematography by Hans Burmann which heightens the suspense . It was remade in Hollywood by Cameron Crowe as Vanilla Sky (2001), starring Tom Cruise , Cameron Diaz , Kurt Russell and Penélope Cruz also stars in Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe's remake of this film, playing the same character, Sofia.

The picture was well directed by Amenabar in his second movie, after he achieved various hits . Since his perhaps best-known early short-film "Himenóptero" in 1992, in which he directed , produced, acted and wrote the script and the music, Amenábar progressed and reached his first commercial success in 1996 with "Thesis", Amenabar was 23 when he directed this his feature debut , a film which undoubtedly showed that a major new director had arrived on the scene . Later "Los Otros" (The Others) confirmed his arrival in the cinematographic world and is Amenábar's first English language film . In all his films he also writes the script and the music, as well as composing the music for other films , most notably "Butterflies tongue" (1999). He subsequently directed ¨Mar Adentro¨ with the Oscarized Javier Bardem and finally the epic/historical ¨Agora¨ with Rachel Weisz . Rating : Better than average.
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Hype doesn't pay off
seat85030 January 2002
If you're convinced that you want to see the "original" before you see the copy (Vanilla Sky) I suspect that you'll be disappointed in both versions. This one is well shot, well acted, and would be a decent if rather boring movie if it weren't for all the hype about the "astounding surprise ending". I found the ending to be far from astounding and even less of surprise- it's practically force-fed to you throughout the movie.

I also found the message to be rather confused and shallow- I interpreted it as "if all you have is your looks, be sure that you hang on to them or you'll be really sad." Not exactly groundbreaking cinema.
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Misintepretation of language
gjohalloran2 January 2007
I saw Vanilla sky first so agree that that may have spoilt somewhat the power of Abre Los Ojos, which I believe is a more fly-on-the-wall insight into the film compared to Vanilla Sky.

However, as with any foreign language film, I feel it is almost impossible to entirely "get" the sentiment/meaning of the film unless you can understand/hear it in the original language. I can speak Spanish pretty well but I was unable to pick up any particular memorable quotes, without the aid of the subtitles. (and subtitles can be very loosely translated). For example, I'm not sure "f**k buddy" and "the sweet ain't as sweet without the sour" from Vanilla sky would truly represent the intended meaning if translated to Spanish.

Overall, I thought Abre los Ojos was a more gritty and realistic version of the story. Contrastingly, I enjoyed Vanilla Sky because of the pop culture references and the soundtrack and the cheesy Hollywood moments.
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Much better than Vanilla Sky, and from Spain. Extremely Good.
I talk Spanish, but not Spanish Spanish, if you hardly now what I mean. This movie is so much better than Vanilla Sky. This second is too American. Amenábar creates his own music, the script, the funny Spanish talking, and directs the fantastic performances. There is hardly one song and it really helps to the plot, not like Crowe's version when there is a song everybody knows every single second or during the fall.

On the other hand, the movie is terrific. The story is very original, it tells about shallowness in several aspects one rarely imagines, and the ending, like all Amenabar films, makes you think for days. Just watch The Others, the most scary movie ever FOR ME, or Thesis, which isn't left behind. This guy knows what he is doing and hasn't been corrupted by Hollywood even if working with stars from there. He has a great future and I'm waiting patiently for his next film.
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No Beatle, No Redhead
tedg25 October 2006
Here's an interesting case, where the Hollywood remake is better.

First, an exploration of why I didn't particularly like this. Superficially I should. I'm fascinated by films that are about films or something like them: manufactured illusion. And its especially nice when characters wonder about where they belong, which layer of reality is true, what it means to be fabricated and how to jump levels. Its all about lucidity.

But I'm interested in this because I'm interested in tricks that storytellers can use to make their stories more engaging. So its important to me that when these devices are used, they are used to "fold" the audience into the story. For instance, a simple fold is when we have an on- screen audience that our characters perform to.

Its all a much grander and richer notion than self-reference or reflexivity. Worthy of knowing because of the way we build our own stories in life, often using movies.

These storytelling devices, a bewildering variety of them are most employed by our Spanish- related filmmakers. Okay, now this.

The story in its details is just this sort of thing. But look closely. It is a story that exists independent of the cinematic means to tell it. It uses no cinematic techniques, like say the wonderful "Sex and Lucia." It seems to have been conceived as a book, with no visual hook. Things are "explained." There are some devices like the mask and the mime, but they are grafted on the story-as-words not the story-as-images.

To see what I mean, see this and the remake. Crowe is no master filmmaker, but he does know a few things about migrating a story into cinema. Watch it. Its almost precisely the same script, and has Penelope as well. It has Cruise, possibly an apt choice for a self-absorbed man who admires how he is admired. But it also has some very clever touches that aren't in the original. My two favorite are the talk about who was your favorite Beatle, and the insertion of Alicia Witt as the secretary at "the company."

That Beatles bit showed that Crowe understood the nature of the defect in the original and the mechanics of projection needed to bring the story into the cinematic. Beatle Paul is the right answer there, and the mechanism has to do with shifting identity, not keeping the same identity in a shifted reality.

And the insertion of the redhead was a kind of ultracinematic shorthand. Some people, objects, shots, effects carry special meaning. This woman, as a girl, stunned the film world in how Lynch used her in the otherwise unimaginative "Dune." For years afterward she was inserted in movies to recall that role, or rather the place those few minutes represented. Its the notion that a woman can appear once in your vision and every element of the world is different after that, sort of a diffuse witchcraft of noir. That she was there showed us, the audience that Crowe understood what he was reaching for.

None of that is here in the original. Its a rather conventional sci-fi story told in the most mechanical of ways with no mixing of the confusions of reality in the story with the realities of film. And us.

And wasn't there some added ambiguity in "Vanilla" about the detective being the hero's father?

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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