I’ve been watching Eyes Wide Shut more and more lately, and started to discover much more than what I initially observed. I’ve always been a big fan of the film, and I always had the distinct feeling that I hadn’t grasped the complete picture, but that’s just a commonality with all Stanley Kubrick Films, there are multiple facets in all his films. But Eyes Wide Shut, in a very obvious manner, invites us to explore these multiple facets in the film.
So I decided to do a little research, and came across this analysis of the film:
Which is extremely thorough and much more revealing of the films nature. But I am creating this topic to invite you all to share some of your theories about the film, some of the theories you’ve heard in order to truly understand this masterpiece.
Kubrick said that this was his best film. Let’s try to uncover why
Like the mysterious whisper that you can’t hear unless you turn on your DVD/Blu-ray subtitles:
‘You Should Have a Cloak Lined with Ermine’
Could the whisper be referring to the Cloaks of Monarchy that are lined with Ermine, if so that could coincide with the Orgy at Somerton Mansion, a.k.a. Royalty
As Ziegler says to Bill: ‘Who do you think those people were? Those were not just some ordinary people. If I told you their names… no, I’m not going to tell you their names… but if I did, I don’t think you’d sleep so well at night.’
Not Ordinary People …. that could mean Royalty. Which would mean Milich’s Daughter knows were Bill is going, did her Father come to ‘another arrangement’ and sell his daughter to the same orgy previously? Pedophilia amongst those of the elite is familiar ground for Kubrick, as he explored it in Lolita, as Clare Quilty ‘buys’ Lolita, and the mansion we find Clare Quilty in is certainly similar in terms of art and culture present in the one in Eyes Wide Shut.
Questions Questions Question!
Help me out guys
It usually takes us mere mortals 15-20 years from release date to fully grasp a Kubrick piece. Let it simmer for another 2 or 3.
Great to see this.
It’s unfortunate that the movie goes over alot of peoples heads.
One of the things about Eyes Wide Shut and the other Kubrick films that never fails to impress is how refined the style is. I suppose the best analogy is comparing it to a master painter accomplishing in few strokes what it’d take a lesser painter to do in many.
Kubrick is my (among others) favorite director, so it’s great to find articles as obsessive about his films as I am.
Thanks for the link.
To save myself the effort of rehashing some on the arguments already made for interpretations of this film, I’ll just point you to some of the existing threads on Eyes Wide Shut:
I’ve just rewatched the movie and looked up the interpretation of the “You Should Have a Cloak Lined with Ermine” part before ending up here. Then I noticed that this was pretty recent, so I might as well contribute.
I can tell you that yes, this is spot on. http://www.konformist.com/flicks/eyeswideshut.htm talks about Monarch programming, and that seems to be what Kubrick is hinting at: that a good portion of the Royalty / ruling class is in these kind of cults. This can be the Illuminati, but also any cult of the sorts. It isn’t without reason that Kubrick chose a married couple involved with the Curch of Scientology for his main roles.
Also, notice the paintings at the wall at this exact conversation with Ziegler. Who are they?
However, I don’t think the girl was meant to be involved with the cult. The text is only shown with subtitles on, it’s a hidden message, sort of an Easter Egg, so I think it was meant purely for interpretational purposes. She may not have actually understood what she was saying, she’s a flat character.
So, if neither the girl nor the shop owner was involved with the cult, what is the origin of this seeming Monarch programming (the shop owner pimping out her daughter, her being happy about it)? He seems to like it for the money.
This is where the deeper meaning comes in sight. Everyone wants sex, and our main character is very generously handing out money to the people he meets. Take note of the main character’s name: Mr. Bill. What Kubrick is saying is that the influence of the Illuminati, or whatever you want to call them, has gotten into our society and that they’re using money to sexualize the people.
But isn’t that, you know, not actually the case? Well, that’s why it’s called Eyes Wide Shut. Here are some examples of these influences that we’re all in fact familiar with. Early on, Mr Bill meets a whore, someone you pay money to have sex with. Females are more or less expected to be attracted to rich men like Mr. Bill. This Mr. Bill likes to brag about his profession, he’s a doctor. Females love doctors, all of them do.
When the alarm went off in Rainbow Fashions, the shop owner silenced it with the password 56784. I was wondering if this meant anything, so I Googled for the number along with “Eyes Wide Shut”. Coincidentally that also brought me to this exact domain, namely to http://mubi.com/users/56784/films?page=7 (Eyes Wide Shut is one of the favourites of user number 56784).
So yeah, apparently no deeper meaning there, but it’s still a mindfuck (no pun intended).
As good as Eyes Wide Shut is, Kubrick’s too objectivist of a filmmaker to make a legitimately great erotic film. You’d find far more layers in something like Last Tango in Paris or Scorpio Rising.
I’d love to hear what someone like Adam Curtis would have to say about the film, he should do an essay, sometimes that can really help appreciate a film. What little I have read of David Bordwell has been very dull but occasionally find an essay like his one on Film Socialisme that helps you appreciate a masterpiece more.
“Kubrick said that this was his best film. Let’s try to uncover why…”
Hmmm??? I don’t think he had the much time to cogitate on the matter. And, if you seriously think this is his best film then you haven’t given his other films very much consideration.
I didn’t say it was his best film, I said Kubrick thought of it as his best film.
I was referring to this:
Q: What happened to the Sydney Pollack commentary that was originally supposed to be included on the “Eyes Wide Shut” disc?
Jan Harlan: I am glad there is no commentary on “Eyes Wide Shut.” The film is complex. Stanley Kubrick worked on the script, on and off, for three decades. Explanations are bound to fail. Every viewer will be an expert on sexual fantasy and jealousy and will find his or her individual connection to this complicated film–or not, as the case may be. Let it suffice to say that Stanley Kubrick considered “Eyes Wide Shut” his greatest contribution to the art of the cinema. Let the audience try to tune in to Kubrick’s frequency–it’s worth the trouble. It may take two or three viewings, though.
Personally my favourite film of all time is 2001: A Space Odyssey
Additionally even Scorsese named Eyes Wide Shut as a masterwork, and it was in his top ten of the decade. So maybe YOU haven’t given this film much consideration.
I think “erotic” is the last thing EWS is or is trying to be. I thought it was much more about status, wealth, and class.
I absolutely agree with Savannah, I think the fact it was even marketed as ‘the most erotic film ever’ is what caused the misconceptions about the film, ultimately leading towards generally bad reviews. And furthermore, essentially the film is about how the vox populi or proletariat’s eyes, are wide shut with the inner workings of the elite.
I don’t think even Kubrick thought it was his best film. He may have said that for the press, but there are numerous reports to the contrary, not just Ermey’s. The film was a fiasco from start to finish. Cruise took control of the picture, and it really suffered for it. He simply can’t act, and refuses to do anything even remotely daring like take off his pants, which Kubrick wanted him to do for one scene, but Tommy boy flatly refused. I guess it is all that Scientology that he has rattling around in his head. You can watch this movie as many times as you like, but you ain’t going to find any diamonds in this dunghill. Lolita was even worse. Nabokov said so himself ; )
Spot on! Also, if you are exploring the dark side of marriage, eroticism is not what you would likely find. The expectation that this would be a “sexy” movie had everything to do with marketing and nothing to do with the film.
>>Cruise took control of the picture…refuses to do anything even remotely daring like take off his pants<<
Somehow I don’t picture Kubrick being intimidated by the star power of Tom Cruise. If Cruise wanted to keep his pants on, that’s his business. Plenty of actors don’t do nudity. I don’t see how the film would have been improved by the uptight Dr. Bill revealing all.
>>Lolita was even worse. Nabokov said so himself<<
Lolita is unfilmable. Authors generally are not pleased with Kubrick’s rendering of their works, as he will always make it a Kubrick film regardless of the source.
It isn’t that. Kubrick simply doesn’t know how to deal with sexuality. Neither does Cruise for that matter. In that sense they were ideally suited for each other. I didn’t read EWS, so I can’t say how it compares to the book, or really care for that matter, as the story itself rang hollow. As I understand, there was quite a battle between Kubrick and Cruise for control of this movie, and in the end Cruise won out. Whatever the case, it was a very weak film and has generally been regarded as such. I think some persons desperately want to think there is something more to it than meets the eye.
It is certainly Kubrick’s most divisive film, but there are as many articles calling it a masterpiece as there are ripping on it. I fail to see how if this filmmaker and star seem to you to “not be able to deal with sexuality” in a film about characters who cannot deal with sexuality, that this is a criticism. Perhaps they did their jobs too well.
There’s been a lot of debate throughout multiple threads as to whether it’s valid to considered it a dream film (and I personally air on the side of ‘yes’), but that got me thinking the other day about why it hasn’t been debated more as a “bad weed trip” film.
I agree with Mertber and i am surprised people don’t get it, it’s really 2 movies in 1, decline of marriage+social classes.
It’s actually a masterpiece, but it’s difficult to say it’s the best by Kubick, has he has atleast 8 masterpieces.
I don’t see how anyone can actually think the movie is intended to be extremely sexual or erotic? There is hardly a scene in the movie that isn’t filmed from a very objective, almost scientific, perspective. The scenes that we are exposed to are not meant to arouse us or seduce us. I think Kubrick makes this very clear with the very first shot that appears in the movie of Kidman taking off her dress, facing away from the audience, a brief shot that cuts quickly away as if to suggest to the viewer that this brief, detached look of nudity is about as sexual as the movie is going to get. Interpreting the movie solely as a study of eroticism or sexuality seems limited to me.
“He simply can’t act, and refuses to do anything even remotely daring like take off his pants, which Kubrick wanted him to do for one scene, but Tommy boy flatly refused”
If you have seen Paul Thomas Anderson’s film ‘Magnolia’, which was shot right after Eyes Wide Shut, in fact PTA visited the Eyes Wide Shut set to offer Cruise the role. In Magnolia you’ll see a scene with Tom Cruise and a TV Reporter, where Cruise has his pants off and is practically nude. Practically because he has his underwear on but if you have seen the scene you’ll know what I mean.
“As I understand, there was quite a battle between Kubrick and Cruise for control of this movie, and in the end Cruise won out”
This can be easily proven wrong. Eyes Wide Shut holds the Guinness World Record for the longest constant movie shoot at 400 days. If Cruise had ‘won out’ it would have been shot in 60.
Ben Simington, I also thought of that, me and my friends were watching it, and we just kept in mind the fact he had just had weed, and how that whole night, would have been surreal and dreamlike. But it definitely would have worn off till the next day when he goes in search for Nightingale, and the Girl, whilst being followed.
Elmer_Fishstick, You’re absolutely right, it seems very limited, interpreting it as a sole study of eroticism/sexuality. That quote above from Jan Harlan, Kubrick’s executive producer and brother in law, for me, explains exactly how I think we should approach the film, as Kubrick’s deepest work.
I abhorred Magnolia, so you aren’t going to make a convert out of me with that film. Cruise ran around in his underwear in Risky Business too, but that doesn’t make him a great actor.
One thing Cruise learned from Hoffman is to be demanding, too bad none of the acting rubbed off on him.
It is certainly Kubrick’s most divisive film, but there are as many articles calling it a masterpiece as there are ripping on it.
True. As I remember, Maslin wrote a glowing review of the film. I have to wonder though if a number of these positive reviews were because of Kubrick’s untimely death ; )
Jonathan Rosenbaum’s superb piece on Eyes Wide Shut is well worth reading:
Sorry I don’t know how to post a link properly.