Eyes Wide Shut

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“Eyes Wide Shut” is a thriller film of 1999 directed by Stanley Kubrick. It is the last work of the director, who died shortly before the film’s release. The film, based on the novel “Dream Story” by Arthur Schnitzler, is a psychological drama that explores the themes of infidelity, sexual attraction and relationship dynamics.

The film is set in New York City and follows the protagonist, Dr. Bill Harford (played by Tom Cruise), a successful doctor, who finds himself involved in a series of mysterious and sexually charged events after he discovers that his wife Alice ( played by Nicole Kidman) has sexual fantasies about another man. As Bill embarks on a nocturnal journey through the shadows of the city, he is progressively drawn into a dark and secret world of desire, lust and perversion.

During his nocturnal wanderings, Bill comes into contact with a series of enigmatic and seductive characters. His search for a hidden truth leads him to attend a society party in a luxurious villa, where he meets a group of masked people involved in erotic games and secret rituals. This event pushes him further and further beyond the boundaries of his experiences and his own identity.

“Eyes Wide Shut” explores complex themes such as repressed desire, sexuality, power and the dynamics of marriage. The film makes use of dark and suggestive cinematography, typical of Kubrick’s style, and an evocative soundtrack. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s performances were praised for their intensity and onscreen chemistry.

The film is also known for its explicit nudity and sex scenes, which caused quite a stir upon its release. However, Kubrick’s goal was to explore the boundaries of human sexuality and identity, rather than simply create a scandal.

Despite mixed reactions from critics and audiences upon release, “Eyes Wide Shut” has since become a cult film, appreciated for its thematic complexity and distinctive visual style. It is regarded as a fascinating final work of one of the most influential directors in the history of cinema.

Plot

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The plot of the film revolves around the protagonist, Dr. William “Bill” Harford, played by Tom Cruise, and his journeys through a dark world of sexual desire and intrigue.

The story begins when Bill and his wife Alice, played by Nicole Kidman, attend a Christmas party hosted by their friend. During the party, Alice confesses to Bill that she has had sexual fantasies about another man and this triggers a sense of jealousy and a search for adventure in him.

Later, Bill runs into an old friend who introduces him to a world of secret parties, anonymous sex, and mysterious rituals. On his first foray into this world, he is interrupted before he can participate in a sexual act and subsequently gets involved in a series of situations that bring him into contact with a secret group of powerful individuals who seem to control and manipulate the lives of others.

As Bill delves deeper into this world, his actions and encounters put his life and marriage in danger. Through a series of strange and disturbing events, Bill finds himself confronted with his own sexuality, his repressed desires and the fragility of his relationship with Alice.

The storyline of “Eyes Wide Shut” explores complex themes such as desire, infidelity, power and sexuality. The film challenges social conventions and takes a critical look at the nature of love and monogamy, taking the protagonist on a journey of personal discovery and confrontation with his own sexual identity.

It is important to note that “Eyes Wide Shut” is a complex and ambiguous film, and many of its scenes can be interpreted differently by different viewers. The plot is characterized by a sense of surreality and dreamlike atmosphere, which adds another layer of mystery and ambiguity to the narrative.

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Movie Characters

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“Eyes Wide Shut” features a number of complex characters that contribute to the mysterious and sexually charged atmosphere of the film. Here are some of the main characters in the film:

Dr. Bill Harford (played by Tom Cruise): He is the protagonist of the film, a successful doctor who becomes involved in a series of mysterious events after discovering his wife’s sexual fantasies. His search for truth and for himself takes him on a nocturnal journey through the shadows of New York City.

Alice Harford (played by Nicole Kidman): She is Bill’s wife and mother of their daughter. After a conversation with her husband about sexual fantasies, Alice begins to explore her repressed desire and becomes a central point in Bill’s marriage crisis.

Ziegler (played by Sydney Pollack): He is a longtime friend of Bill and an influential man in society. Ziegler draws Bill into his circle of the rich and powerful and is revealed to be a key player in the mysteries surrounding the story.

Mysterious Woman (portrayed by Julienne Davis): She is a mysterious woman that Bill meets during a party and who fascinates him immediately. Her character plays a significant role in arousing Bill’s sexual curiosity and propelling him on his nocturnal journey.

Marion Nathanson (played by Marie Richardson): She is one of Bill’s patients and becomes the object of his sexual fantasies. His presence in the film helps to explore the fragility of human relationships and repressed desire.

In addition to these main characters, there are also numerous secondary characters who populate the dark and secretive world Bill immerses himself in during his search for the truth. These characters include masqueraders, prostitutes, members of secret societies, and other participants in the erotic parties and rituals Bill encounters along his nocturnal route.

Production

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The production of “Eyes Wide Shut” was a long and complex process, typical of the works of Stanley Kubrick. Below are some highlights related to the production of the film:

Screenplay: Kubrick adapted Arthur Schnitzler’s novel “Dream Story” for the big screen. He worked on the script for several years, making numerous changes and refinements to the plot and dialogues.

Casting: Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who were married in real life at the time, were cast as the stars of the film. Some of the minor roles went to British actors, including Sydney Pollack and Alan Cumming.

Shooting: Shooting for the film began in the summer of 1996 and lasted over a year. Much of the film was shot at Kubrick’s London studios, with some exteriors shot in New York. Kubrick was known for his detailed and meticulous approach to filmmaking, and “Eyes Wide Shut” was no different. Scenes were often re-shot countless times to achieve the desired effect.

Secrecy: Kubrick was known for his secrecy regarding his film projects. Even during the production of “Eyes Wide Shut”, the director kept strict control on the set and restricted the information disclosed to the public. This helped create a lot of anticipation around the film.

Editing: Kubrick personally supervised the editing of the film. However, his sudden death in March 1999 prevented the director from completing the final version of the film. The theatrically released version underwent some editing by producer and longtime Kubrick collaborator Jan Harlan.

Soundtrack: The soundtrack of the film was composed by Jocelyn Pook and features haunting and atmospheric music tracks. Music plays an important role in creating the surreal and disturbing atmosphere of the film.

Distribution: “Eyes Wide Shut” was released in theaters in July 1999. The film garnered mixed reactions from critics and audiences, but has gained a cult following over the years.

Despite the challenges and exceptional circumstances that surrounded the production of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, the film represents a distinctive and complex work in Stanley Kubrick’s film catalogue.

Distribution and Reception

“Eyes Wide Shut” was released in theaters on July 16, 1999. The film sparked a wide variety of reactions from critics and audiences, generating debate and discussion about the film’s interpretation and themes. Here is an overview of the film’s reception and distribution:

Critics’ Reactions: Critics’ opinions of the film varied widely. While some critics lauded its unique visual style, thematic complexity, and the performances of Cruise and Kidman, others criticized the film’s length and slow pace. Some have also raised questions about the film’s depiction of sexuality. Despite mixed reactions, many critics recognized the work as a final display of Kubrick’s talent.

Audience Response: “Eyes Wide Shut” grossed approximately $162 million worldwide and was a considerable commercial success. However, the film has sparked public debate due to its explicit sexual content and provocative nature. Some viewers found the film fascinating and deeply engaging, while others found it confusing or too slow.

Redacted Version: To meet film classification needs and avoid an “NC-17” rating in the United States, Kubrick made some changes to the film. Digital shadows were applied and various visual tricks were used to cover up nudity. This censored version was initially released in theaters, but was later replaced by the original uncensored version for home video release.

Accolades: Despite mixed reviews, “Eyes Wide Shut” received a few nominations and accolades. The film was nominated for several awards, including the Satellite Award for Best Cinematography and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Production Design.

Over the years, “Eyes Wide Shut” has grown into a cult film, prized for its thematic complexity, evocative cinematography, and distinctive style. The work was re-evaluated by many critics and earned a place in Stanley Kubrick’s filmography as a final testament to his unique cinematic vision.

Style

The style of “Eyes Wide Shut” is typical of director Stanley Kubrick, characterized by rigorous attention to visual detail, stunning cinematography and slow, atmospheric storytelling. Here are some key elements of the film’s style:

Visual Composition: Kubrick was known for his ability to create iconic and evocative images through the composition of his frames. In “Eyes Wide Shut”, he carefully uses lighting, color and framing to create an intense and eerie atmosphere. The images are often symmetrical and balanced, creating a sense of order and detachment.

Cinematography: Cinematographer, Larry Smith, works in tandem with Kubrick to create dark and atmospheric photography. The colors are often soft and cold, with a predominance of blue and green tones, which contribute to a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere. The night scenes are particularly evocative, with soft lights, shadows and contrasts that emphasize the sense of mystery.

Slow Pace: Kubrick uses a slow, deliberate pace to build the mood of the film. Scenes often unfold unhurriedly, allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in the environment and reflect on the themes and emotions present. This narrative style helps create a sense of tension and suspense.

Detail and symbolism: Kubrick was known for his obsessive attention to detail, and “Eyes Wide Shut” is no exception. The film is full of visual symbolism and hidden references which can be interpreted in different ways. Objects and props take on symbolic meaning, which adds further layers of meaning to the film.

Psychological Issues: “Eyes Wide Shut” explores the psychological issues related to infidelity, repressed desire and human identity. His visual and narrative style helps create a psychologically intense and disturbing atmosphere, immersing viewers in the protagonist’s insecurity and paranoia.

Overall, the style of “Eyes Wide Shut” is characterized by its captivating visual aesthetic and thoughtful storytelling, which allows the film’s complex themes to emerge in a suggestive and engaging way.

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Curiosities and Anecdotes

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Here are some curiosities and interesting anecdotes related to the movie “Eyes Wide Shut”:

Lengthy Production Process: The production of the film was very lengthy, spanning over two years. Principal photography began in the summer of 1996 and wrapped in April 1998. Stanley Kubrick was known for his detailed and perfectionist approach to directing, which contributed to the film’s sustained production.

Secrecy on set: Kubrick was famous for his secrecy on set and his secretiveness about his film projects. During the filming of “Eyes Wide Shut”, he imposed stringent security measures, such as confiscating the cell phones of cast and crew members, to prevent information leaks about the film.

Numerous takes: Kubrick was notorious for requiring numerous takes of a single scene to achieve perfection. The scene of Bill and Alice’s argument in their apartment, for example, was shot over 90 times.

Post-Production Changes: After Kubrick’s death in March 1999, producer Jan Harlan made some changes in post-production, mainly to shorten the film’s length. Some scenes have been deleted and some minor changes have been made to the ending sequence.

Starring Couple: “Eyes Wide Shut” marks the last collaboration between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a couple on the big screen. The two actors were married in real life at the time of filming and their on-screen chemistry has been widely discussed and analyzed.

Subtle visual effects: Kubrick has cleverly used some subtle visual effects to create a feeling of unease and distortion. For example, he used “step-printing” in some scenes to give a slightly unnatural look to the characters’ movements.

Unused soundtrack: Initially, Kubrick planned to use György Ligeti’s music as the film’s main soundtrack. However, in the editing stage, he chose to use Jocelyn Pook’s music and only a few Ligeti’s songs remained in the final film.

These tidbits offer a behind-the-scenes look at “Eyes Wide Shut” and showcase Kubrick’s obsessive attention to detail and creation of a unique cinematic experience.

Themes

“Eyes Wide Shut” deals with several complex and profound themes, typical of the works of Stanley Kubrick. Here are some of the main themes present in the film:

Sexuality and desire: The film explores human sexuality in an explicit and provocative way. Examine repressed desire, sexual fantasies, and the power dynamics associated with sexuality. The pursuit of sexual gratification becomes a driving force for the protagonist and questions the foundation of his married life.

Infidelity and Jealousy: “Eyes Wide Shut” deals with the theme of marital infidelity and the resulting jealousy and paranoia. The protagonist, Bill, is confronted with the possibility that his wife may have had sexual adventures and embarks on a nocturnal journey to explore the world of infidelity and its emotional consequences.

Masks and Fakes: In the film, the theme of masks and fakes is present both literally and metaphorically. The exclusive and secret parties that Bill attends feature masks worn by the attendees, emphasizing the hidden and fictitious nature of these ceremonies. The mask also takes on a wider symbolic meaning, representing the hypocrisy and false identities present in society.

Identity and Alienation: “Eyes Wide Shut” explores the protagonist’s alienation and identity crisis. Bill finds himself immersed in a dark and unknown world, which questions his beliefs and his perception of himself. Bill’s overnight journey becomes an opportunity to explore his identity and confront his vulnerability.

Power and corruption: The film deals with the theme of power and corruption in the social elites. The secret society and exclusive parties show a dark side of wealth and influence, with an implication of abuse of power and manipulation. The film’s narrative emphasizes the inaccessibility of real power and its impact on the lives of ordinary people.

Dream and Reality: “Eyes Wide Shut” challenges the boundaries between dream and reality. The plot of the film is permeated with a sense of surreality and dreamlike atmosphere, where events unfold as if in a twisted dream. This theme questions the nature of perception and the fine line between what is real and what is imagined.

These complex themes offer insight into the human dynamics, sexuality, power and identity that permeate the film “Eyes Wide Shut”.

Director

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The director of “Eyes Wide Shut” is Stanley Kubrick, one of the most influential and celebrated directors in the history of cinema. Born on July 26, 1928 in New York, Kubrick has directed several critically acclaimed films, spanning various film genres.

Kubrick is known for his maniacal precision and meticulous approach to filmmaking. He was involved in every aspect of the production, from script writing and photography to set design and soundtrack selection. His attention to detail and his quest for perfection made him famous as a demanding and visionary director.

Kubrick’s filmography includes such works as “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), “Full Metal Jacket” (1987) and “The Shining” (1980). Each of Kubrick’s films is characterized by a complex narrative, a unique visual style and an in-depth exploration of human themes.

“Eyes Wide Shut” was the last film Kubrick directed before his death on March 7, 1999. His distinctive style, attention to detail and ability to create suggestive atmospheres are widely recognized and appreciated in the film industry.

Stanley Kubrick’s filmography is considered one of the most influential and important in cinema, and his impact on the medium is reflected in his status as a legendary filmmaker.

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