Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eyes Wide Shut

Stanley Kubrick: Eyes Wide Shut (US/GB 1999) starring Tom Cruise (William "Bill" Harford) and Nicole Kidman (Alice Harford).

Eyes Wide Shut / Eyes Wide Shut.
    US / GB © 1999 Warner Bros. EX: Jan Harlan.
    P+D: Stanley Kubrick. SC: Stanley Kubrick, Frederic Raphael - based on the novella Traumnovelle (1926) by Arthur Schnitzler. DP: Larry Smith. AD: John Fenner. FX: Garth Inns. Cost: Marit Allen. Make-up: Robert McCann. M: György Ligeti, Musica Ricercata II: Mesto, rigido e cerimoneale; Franz Liszt, Nuages gris; W.A. Mozart, Rex Tremendae from Requiem, Dmitri Shostakovich, Waltz from Jazz Suite 2. "Naval Officer", "Masked Ball", "The Dream", "Migrations" (Jocelyn Pook, perf. Jocelyn Pook and Electra Strings),  ED: Nigel Galt. S: Paul Conway.
    C: Tom Cruise (William 'Bill' Harford), Nicole Kidman (Alice Harford), Madison Eginton (Helena Harford), Jackie Sawiris (Roz), Sydney Pollack (Victor Ziegler), Leslie Lowe (Illona Ziegler), Peter Benson (band leader), Todd Field (Nick Nightingale), Michael Doven (Ziegleri's secretary), Sky Dumont (Sandor Szavost), Louise J. Taylor (Gayle), Stewart Thorndike (Nuala Windsor), Randall Paul (Harris), Julienne Davis (Amanda 'Mandy' Curran), Lisa Leone (Lisa), Kevin Connealy (Lou Nathanson), Marie Richardson (Marion Nathanson), Thomas Gibson (Carl Thomas), Mariana Hewett (Rosa) Abigail Good (mystery woman).
    158 min.
    A Warner Bros. Finland vintage release print with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Timo Porri / Eirik Udd screened at Cinema Orion (A Tribute to Stanley Kubrick), Helsinki, 12 Jan 2011

In the presence of Jan Harlan, with a Q & A afterwards. 1. "Executive producer" means nothing. Eyes Wide Shut was 30 years in the making. Originally it was meant to be a black and white arthouse film starring Woody Allen. Everybody is an expert on the subjects of the film: jealousy and sexual fantasy. Kubrick had been planning a Holocaust film, but then Spielberg made Schindler's List. He was planning A.I. but then decided it, too, would be better for Spielberg. Eyes Wide Shut was a torment to make, and the final result split the audience. All works of art are difficult, because they present something new, thought through by the artist. Eyes Wide Shut was slightly ahead of its time. 2. Why does the film have lasting value? Because it is real, it does not age. It is not irrelevant. Many have been offended by K. films at first: Paths of Glory was banned in France, Dr. Strangelove was seen as "anti-American", 2001 A Space Odyssey was a disaster with older generations. There is no such thing as certainty. Hardly anybody trusted in Titanic. 3. Details are important. Eyes Wide Shut is partly a dream, and the names of streets had to be invented for legal reasons. Names can be minefields. Mostly Eyes Wide Shut was shot in the Pinewood Studios. The paintings are by Christiane Kubrick and Katharine Hobbs. Sometimes compromises are necessary: K. used the Schubert trio in Barry Lyndon although it was composed 30 years later than the events portrayed. 4. With Eyes Wide Shut the actual production took three years of our life. I cannot be objective, but I am very fond of the Napoleon project, which we launched in 1969. I had known K. via my sister, already in New York, but during the Napoleon project I really got to know Stanley. - Jan told also that the Shostakovich waltz was discovered by K. for the film. It was not well-known previously.

Eyes Wide Shut keeps growing with the years.

1. During the first run Tom Cruise's performance struck me as slightly wooden and absent-minded. Now I accept it as a portrait of a man who is a stranger in his own life. A sleepwalker, but not a zombie.

2. I was confused as I expected Eyes Wide Shut to be an erotic film. I was not impressed with the women that looked like nude models from men's magazines, including even Nicole Kidman, whose performance I otherwise appreciated. Now I find Eyes Wide Shut an erotic odyssey in the meaning of Irrweg, taking a misleading path, following a mirage.

3. Jan Harlan said yesterday that the "orgy" was actually a vision of modern hell. And yes, quite explicitly, it is an erotic mass as a spectacle of devil worship.

4. Eyes Wide Shut the title refers in my opinion to dreaming. The dreamer closes ones eyes and "sees" more.

5. I think the final explanation of Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack) is honest. Mandy did not sacrifice herself, and she died from an overdose. Yet one can pay attention to Ziegler's callous attitude. He has been using this drug-addicted prostitute for the purposes of his pleasures and does not seem to particularly regret her fate. I was thinking about the Marilyn Monroe story, the final evening, with Peter Lawford conducting a sex party at his villa while Marilyn died from an overdose. She was finally a piece of dead meat unclaimed by anyone.

6. Bill Harford is a doctor and not easily shocked, but the revelation of Ziegler's callousness "opens his eyes". Even in the finale I don't find he is really awake yet, but he is on his way to wake up. I don't think the Harfords will accept another invitation to one of Ziegler's parties.

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