From reading a few threads about Kubrick I’ve come to find that alot of people that are his fans hated Eyes Wide Shut.
I have to ask myself…Why??? It was one of his most intense, engaging, interesting and, in my opinion, masterful works. Everyone of his films had a high level of mastery, but I think Eyes Wide Shut is among a couple other of his works that were at the peak of that cinematic mastery.
And I thought Tom Cruise was great in it. Shoot me.
You may dismiss this as stupid or unwarrented, but I have to compare it to Stalker in it’s intensity and suspence. The way I say this is, it has you at the edge of your seat desperately, fiendishly awaiting the next seconds of celluloid to display before your eyes, though little is actually happening. Look at Stalker. The majority of the movie is just guys walking through the woods, yet I was at the edge of my seat. The film had ahold of me and wouldn’t let me go until the very end. It kept me guessing, but, more so than guessing, desperately wishing to know what happens next.
I got a very similar feeling with Eyes Wide Shut. Alot more actual substantial, “material” if you will…events happen throughout Eyes Wide Shut, but still, you never seen anything “oh my god!” like a car blowing up or something, just like in Stalker…It has to do with austhetics. Not only austhetics, but a combination of angles, dialogue, tone, pacing and build up… It takes a true master of cinema to combine those elements in just the right way to make you not want to take your eyes off of the screen for fear that you’ll miss a split second.
Kubrick did this in Eyes Wide Shut. I thought it was one of his greatest films and can’t see why people dislike it so much. This may have been discussed before and if it has I sincerely apologize.
I also wanted to get my (probably incomplete) two cents out there about it. And yes I know Stalker was alot more than guys walking through the woods…Hold your fire.
Oh come on people I wrote ALL that! Lol…
It’s one of my top 5 films of all time. I dunno if it’s his best, but it’s probably my favorite from him. Great use of color, great performances, story has you thinking about it long after you saw it. Tom and Nicole were great in this film.
Why is it so hated? Well, it is a very laborious movie in many ways. We expected something highly sexual, instead we got a movie about sexuality itself, or perhaps the dangers of sexuality. I dunno, it’s about a lot of things, but it was far less ‘commercial’ than Kubrick’s previous two outings, which walked a stunning line between appealing to a huge audience and also making insightful statements.
Personally I think it’s way more substantive than Stalker, though lacking the poetic touch that Tarkovsky has. Honestly, the film reminds me of Antonioni more than anything, things unfold in a bumbling, random way that feels almost magical. But the film does so many different things well. It can do the whole sumptuous Ophuls thing like at Ziegler’s Party, it can do sort of Bergmany stuff like the bedroom argument. Such a serious movie, yet it has such great comedic moments, like when Millich catches his daughter or that gang of preppies in the street.
It is one damn interesting film, I’d love to talk about what it all means, but I don’t know if I can do it justice!
Scorcese wrote an introduction for Michel Ciment’s “Kubrick: The Definitive Edition”.
In the introduction, Scorcese wrote: “When Eyes Wide Shut came out a few months after Stanley Kubrick’s death in 1999, it was severely misunderstood, which came as no surprise. If you go back and look at the contemporary reactions to any Kubrick picture (except the earliest ones), you’ll see that all his films were initially misunderstood. Then, after five or ten years came the realization that 2001 or Barry Lyndon or The Shining was like nothing else before or since.”
I know that when the film first came out, I thought it was OK but I didn’t feel it was a Kubrick masterpiece. It has been many, many years since I watched it but I’ll need to rewatch it again one of these days.
i loved the movie. i’ve seen it once, i was a teenager and didn’t really know anything about kubrick or directors at the time. i think this was just as i was realizing that film is an art, not only entertainment.
the scene that really got me was when cruise and kidman were talking in the bedroom. the acting was amazing. really amazing.
I would say that it’s unquestionable the best acting – real acting – Tom Cruise has ever done. When has he ever been so challenged? Those who hate Cruise would find such a comment inane, I suppose. But I think he’s a relatively interesting fellow, sociologically if nothing else.
Great thoughts and comments. I’ll deffinately have to see more Antonioni. I didn’t really care for L’avventura though it had enough good moments to be worthy of a second try.
Back to EWS. I remembered something I wanted to add about it. The orgy party thing at the mantion is an example of how, like Stalker, it seems to make something so incredibly important to you, the viewer, out of close to nothing. Here is a bunch of rich people getting together to have a big orgy, yet the tone of the movie and the way it presents this party (both visually, with dialogue and with cinematic build up) makes it seem something earth shatteringly important and downright cynical and possibly evil.
I wrote about this exact thing on my site:
This is, without a doubt, my favorite Kubrick film, and the most meaningful. No other film, imo, better characterizes the sexual nature and tension between men and women so precisely – the innate desires between the two sexes and the subtle and not-so-subtle mind games that occur not only between men and women, but the outer world as well – emasculation and female empowerment. It eventually factors into every intimate relationship, and ripples into our non-intimate relationships as well.
did anyone else get reminded of kafka in a few scenes? especially when the guy’s daughter get’s caught??
Blow-Up is quite reminiscent of EWS and possibly Antonioni’s best. Also, Kubrick loved Ophuls and his influence is evident throughout imo, something like La Ronde or Madame de…
What you say reminds me of the power struggle in a relationship which was dealt with so well in the bedroom sequence. I’ve often thought if the movie wasn’t more about Nicole Kidman’s character than Tom’s. She seems to really be the catalyst for everything that happens. Right from the very beginning it’s clear that she’s unfulfilled in the relationship, and I wonder if she doesn’t pick a fight with Bill in order to stir things up a bit. Although, she did see him disappear with two models so maybe she thinks he cheated on her?
Definitely some Kafkaesque moments going on, like when the daughter suddenly grabs onto Bill and smiles at him! Or the part with Sally at the hooker’s house. Actually you could say most of the film is very Kafkaesque I think.
“In the introduction, Scorcese wrote: “When Eyes Wide Shut came out a few months after Stanley Kubrick’s death in 1999, it was severely misunderstood, which came as no surprise. If you go back and look at the contemporary reactions to any Kubrick picture (except the earliest ones), you’ll see that all his films were initially misunderstood. Then, after five or ten years came the realization that 2001 or Barry Lyndon or The Shining was like nothing else before or since.”
yet it has been 11 years and it’s still not regarded as a classic. That’s because it’s not. Pretty good film though.
i don’t remember anyone referring to Full Metal Jacket as a classic until Kubrick died either, but that’s another story.
i also disagree with the Antonioni comparison. Eyes Wide Shut may not have a linear narrative, but it doesn’t have the same ‘wandering’ quality that Antonioni’s films do. It’s far too methodical, like all of Kubrick’s work. When i first watched EWS, i had no problem following it whatsoever. I cannot say the same for L’eclipse or L’aventura, which i saw 5 years after i first watched E.W.S.
joks- i completely agree with you and completely disagree with you.
i think full metal jacket is a movie that plagues me in the sense that so many people consider it a classic… but in my opinion it has NO ending. i haven’t seen it in at least seven years… but still… how can a classic have no ending?
also, eyes wide shut has not been embraced by anyone yet really, except a few kubrick fanatics… so it can’t really be classic can it? doesn’t a classic by definition have to be something that resonates with all sorts of people no matter how much time goes by?
The second half of the film is very wandering and aimless. Did you watch the whole thing? Also, how did you have no trouble following it? It doesn’t even make sense and is confusing and dream like.
Although I agree about Scorsese’s comment. I don’t think The Shining was praised to that extent either. Scorsese is always full of hyperbole.
ELSTON: i’ve seen Eyes Wide Shut 4 times. from start to finish. I had no problem following it. that doesn’t mean that i can articulate why it works at all times, but it means nothing really got me thinking. It doesn’t strike me as being a particularly complex film. It was enjoyable, and beautifully constructed, but Kubrick is all about construction. His films are so painstakingly assembled that i feel there is very little breathing room. To me his use of ellipsis makes sense on an aesthetic and intellectual level. It doesn’t throw me off. It makes sense, at least aesthetically.
JOHNNY: As for Full Metal Jacket, i fall into the ‘great first half, weak/pointless/redundant second half’ camp. I agree with you about what a classic means, i’m just saying that the old excuse that Kubrick movies are not appreciated in their time is always used but it has been 11 years. 11 years is enough time for people to ‘get’ a movie i think.
Hated it in ‘99. Now it’s one of my favorites of all time.
Maybe it will take twenty years and then people will realize this is his best film. Just dumbfounding, every time (well, except ‘99). It is almost impossible for a movie to look this good. Maybe I’ll watch it right now (just got it used for $6 last week, THE SHINING and 2001 too).
I believe it is possible for a classic film to have no ending… One doesn’t come to mind right now but I’m sure it must be possible.
As for Full Metal Jacket, I love that film. And the strange thing is, I like the whole thing but the part that I really love is the second half. I seem to be in the minority there.
Back to Eyes Wide Shut…I honestly didn’t have trouble following it either. I didn’t think it was wondering at all. It all seemed, as has been previously pointed out, painstakingly planned and constructed down to the very last detail. The last hour of the film was indeed mysterious, but mysterious with the promise of clarification (which in some respects never come, but after about a half hour of cinema induced insanity and rage, it becomes clear that what was not clarified wasn’t important)…
Since when did a classic need to have an ending? “400 Blows” is an example.
“Eyes Wide Shut” might just be a masterpiece. A decade is nothing. A blip. We probably need 30 or so years to really place a film in its historical context. Otherwise we can’t see the forest for the trees.
Surely the film grows with multiple viewings. And that’s a great sign.
The 400 Blows! That’s the perfect example of a classic without an ending. Thanks that was really killing me…
EWS is terrific!
of the top of my head
it is a lifeless, sexless picture (no connection to actual human feelings or emotions, played way too seriously when it was likely meant to be comedy, seeing as how Steve Martin and Woody Allen were considered at an earlier time for the lead, that would have helped) with less thrills than a murder she wrote episode (what little tension there could have been is undercut by the pool table scene). The writer felt that film was ill suited to capturing dream like states and Kubrick (in this case at least ) proved him right, he just made things a bit hazy; that’s all. It is poorly edited and its a bad sign when Leelee Sobieski gives the best performance.
@ Joks painstakingly assembled that i feel there is very little breathing room
An art object can not or should not be definitive in its entelechy?
How does one come upon that belief?
True, there are some flaws in the editing of the film, like some rough patches in the sound design, for example. I think part of that is due to Kubrick not quite being finished with the film before he died. And there are some dead spots in the narrative to be sure. I think its fair to call it a “great flawed film”. In any case, that’s how I have it rated. I’m sure I’ll revisit it some years from now and reassess it.
Joks: beautifully constructed, but Kubrick is all about construction. His films are so painstakingly assembled
I hated EYES WIDE SHUT and found it absolute torture to sit through. It took several sittings to get through all of it. None of it is remotely plausible or believable. None of it was remotely interesting to me. I didn’t find the characters or the actors interesting. I didn’t care about anything they did. Tom Cruise plays a doctor. I wanted to see him cure his patients’ ills. That’s his JOB, dammit, not running around with a mask at these peculiarly imagined and staged orgies involving costumed rich people—on work nights when they have to get up the next morning!!! I didn’t care about his sex life with his wife and what was needed to perk it up. That’s not enough of a plot hook for me. To afford that huge apartment, both of them would have to work REAL HARD at what they do for a living. Where would they have time or energy to run around at night like that? If MY doctor showed up for my 9:00 AM appointment with bags under his eyes after a night of running around to orgies, I’d stop going to him.
I need a little bit of basis in—hello?—real life before I can suspend my disbelief. And this is a drama, not a sci-fi fantasy like INCEPTION or a sorcery fantasy like the Harry Potter movies, so it should be easier to do. If you make it completely implausible in the early scenes, what’s to keep me engaged for the rest of it? And it’s a really long movie, too. 2 hrs. and 40 min. Ridiculous.
Clearly the work of a man completely and totally isolated from the people his movie was about—upper middle class workaholic Manhattanites. If he’d made it a period piece set in turn-of-the-20th century Vienna, as the original story was (I think), I might have had fewer problems with it. But as a modern-day New Yorker, I was appalled by it.
Actually, I think “sci-fi fantasy” is about as good a description of EYES WIDE SHUT as “drama”, though neither label provides for its comedic elements as well.
I subscribe to the interpretation that most of EWS takes place in a dream state, so not only do I not mind the unreality of it, I think its a great strength.
Curing patient ills? Getting up in the morning on work days? How to afford a huge apartment? And these are your complaints about the movie? Lighten up a little. You do realize the film is basically a dream, don’t you?