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Eyes Wide Shut (1999) (1 Viewer)

jayembee

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I've seen Lolita mentioned many times as the companion piece, double feature film, to go with Eyes Wide Shut. Funny, for a long time Lolita was my least favorite Kubrick film. Mainly because I felt that had he made it in the 1970s it would have been far different than the film he made in the 1960s. I've outgrown that now though and really enjoy his version of Lolita.

Lolita remains my least favorite Kubrick film. I've always maintained that fidelity to the source material is not the primary obligation of a filmmaker; their primary obligation is to make a good film. But I make exceptions when I think the filmmaker makes changes that don't work nearly as well as the original material. In the novel, Quilty was a largely unseen menace who seemed to dog Humbert from the shadows until their final confrontation. By casting Peter Sellers in the role of Quilty, he made that character farcical. On the other hand, Kubrick did make a brilliant change in the hotel where Humbert is to finally have his way with Dolores, by having the hotel hosting a convention of police officers!

I also thought some of Kubrick's changes to the story weakened The Shining. On the other hand, he improved upon A Clockwork Orange.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I can see how many people dislike the movie (as a lot do for a Kubrick picture) as like a lot of Stanley movies if you don't see where he is coming from it can appear as cold and distant which is a common criticism of Stanley's work.

To some extent Kubrick was lucky to make films when he did. In that timeframe his style of filmmaking was much more accepted. If he made films now, well, it would be a totally different story. Even in 1998 when he was shooting this, they allowed him 400 days to shoot it. No way in hell now anybody would be given 400 days to shoot a picture. No way. I can't even imagine the cost of a 400 day shoot now. It would probably be insane. Plus he was shooting on film then, which was expensive, now you could shoot digitally and let the camera run all day long but they still would not let you screw around and shoot for 400 days, tying up actors and crew for that long, when they are booked to work on other pictures.

In some ways, this film does kind of symbolize the end of that kind of filmmaking and things really start to change after it. Not because of Kubrick and how he made this, just because there was no interest in making films using this method anymore. They would not even give Spielberg 400 days to shoot a picture. Not that he would need to shoot for 400 days but it just seems an over-the-top extravagance to do that, especially now.

I have never been one of the people that thinks his films are cold, as there tend to be a lot of red hot emotions running through them. I think they confuse the way his camera observes things as the pictures being cold, but I do think the key to that is he is trying to let the audience figure out how to feel not explain it to them.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I also thought some of Kubrick's changes to the story weakened The Shining.

One change I really like he made to The Shining was to change the hedge animals coming to life to a hedge maze. When I was a kid and we were talking about how this was being turned into a film, one of the big questions was how would he make those hedge animals come to life. The answer ended up being he wouldn't.

I've not read the novel Eyes Wide Shut is based on but I guess I would credit Frederic Rapheal with the changes to it, as I read his book about writing this and working with Kubrick and he seemed to be the one mostly making the changes. Some at Stanley's request and most with his approval. It seemed like it took Kubrick decades to crack this novel. Interesting that he did not make a period piece but instead transferred the story to modern times.
 

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This was not something that shocked me. The other two Kubrick films I had gone to when the opened in cinemas, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket, had also been trashed by people and critics when they were released.
That's actually a fair point but I agree with or understand a lot of the criticism of those movies (especially The Shining) so when I loved Eyes Wide Shut, I was surprised that it wasn't more embraced. That being said, I think time and certainly critics have been kind to The Shining and Full Metal Jacket and I think EWS is basically going the same way.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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That's actually a fair point but I agree with or understand a lot of the criticism of those movies (especially The Shining) so when I loved Eyes Wide Shut, I was surprised that it wasn't more embraced. That being said, I think time and certainly critics have been kind to The Shining and Full Metal Jacket and I think EWS is basically going the same way.

Yes, so many filmmakers are huge fans of all of these pictures that I think over the course of time critics see them in a different light. The critics at the time these films were released had their knives out for Kubrick I think whereas critics today see the films far, far, differently. Kubrick is gone, his body of work is now his final statement, and they, I think, judge them in a better light because nobody makes films like this anymore.

Yeah, with The Shining, I think some critics felt the subject matter was a bit below Kubrick, then there were people that loved the King novel and so did not like his vast array of changes to the story, plus the simple "Nicholson is nuts from the jump!" complaint.

I have seen The Shining so many times now I nearly know the film by heart. Nicholson does mug a lot in the movie and his performance, I can see now but it took me a while, is a more comic than it should be but my god is he fun.

I'd love to hear Stanley say what it was he wanted out of Jack's performance. The takes he chose to use I think must be chocked up to Kubrick's theory that in a performance interesting is better than realistic or good. However, it is Shelley Duvall that gives the terrifying realistic performance here, playing off Jack's over the top manic energy. The way those two performances combine, I think, is where the magic happens.

Eyes plays a different way. Cruise and Kidman are giving more realistic performances while many of the side characters are doing the oddball over the top stuff. It is really Cruise's film as Kidman, outside of early scenes and the end scenes, does not have a ton to do. Her big moment in the picture is her description of how she would have easily walked away from Cruise to bang this other guy she just was so attracted to. That is a true horror to the Cruise character and totally unravels him. It is an interesting moment and she is obviously doing it to say "You don't own me and my thoughts. I am still a separate person subject to all the things any human being would be subject to."

Then she needles him about how in his job he is looking at women naked and touching them all the time, feeling their boobs, and wouldn't it be normal if this stirred something in him...because he is, after all, just a man.
 

jayembee

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One change I really like he made to The Shining was to change the hedge animals coming to life to a hedge maze. When I was a kid and we were talking about how this was being turned into a film, one of the big questions was how would he make those hedge animals come to life. The answer ended up being he wouldn't.

I didn't have a problem with that change, per se. Kubrick had said that he made the change because SFX wasn't up to creating hedge animals that moved. The problem with that was that, in the novel -- up to the point where the hedge lion attacks Halloran -- the hedge animals never actually moved. Danny only ever noticed that they had moved, but he never saw them actually move. Of course, it still would've added to the cost by having to change the positions of the hedges, so there's that.

The trouble with making it a maze was that Kubrick didn't take it to the extreme. When I heard about that change, I had assumed that the trick was that the maze would change as the characters moved through it. So, if Jack goes through an opening, and turned around, the opening would no longer be there. It would've been more frightening to navigate through a maze that was changing as you went.
 

Keith Cobby

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I didn't see it theatrically but have watched it a couple of times. Although he didn't make many films, those he did he put his heart and soul into, and covered more genres than Hitchcock. EWS isn't top tier (I doubt it is for anybody) but I prefer it to A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. For me the masterpieces are 2001 and Barry Lyndon with Spartacus third.
 

TonyD

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I wish I could remember if I saw this at the movies or waited for a home video release.

I did a rewatch a couple weeks ago too after listening to the podcast Blank Check.
They recently did a series on all of Kubrick’s movies.

I’m still not sure if I think this is a good movie or a movie that I just like to watch.
It’s haunting and mesmerizing. Part of that is the music. Especially the chanting in the mansion.

When I was younger I used to think I didn’t like movies directed by Kubrick because I didn’t like the way he made movies. Now I just think I don’t care for the movies themselves, the stories being told don’t interest me.

The biggest disliked movie for me was Clockwork.
I don’t like a single thing about that move. It’s not Kubrick because he clearly made a very good movie. I just don’t care about the story or the people it’s about.
Same with almost all his movies.

I’ve grown to appreciate 2001 but can’t be convinced that the end of that movie isnt nonsense if you didn’t read the novelized version. Which I did.


Spartacus is probably my most liked Kubrick movie.

I’m surprised there wasn’t already a EWS thread before this.
I searched for one but didn’t find it if there is one.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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When the film originally was released with all the controversy about digital alterations to avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating, I refused to go and see a censored version. My initial viewing was a different region import DVD, which didn’t have the superimposed extras inserted, and while it wasn’t top tier Kubrick, it was certainly atmospheric, and the interpersonal angst of the central characters validated the slow, methodical pacing. I know a majority of the typical domestic audience might feel squirmy at not only the slow development but the subject matter, but expect European reaction likely would’ve been different. I have had the now uncensored domestic Blu-ray for several years but it’s one of those I’ve (unintentionally) kept putting off. Now that it’s come up, I’ll try to move it up in the queue.

I think the biggest issue with the censorship of the orgy scenes at the time was that Kubrick had died before that was done and so people saw that as a huge issue because he was not around to approve it. I think it was Roger Ebert that said he felt it was a travesty to clumsily add motionless people standing in front of what Kubrick had shot.

It did not at all deter me from seeing the picture when it came out as it was a Kubrick film. I barely noticed it on my first viewing at the cinema. It was later when I saw it without the inserted bodies that I realized how sort of lousy that looked and wondered if Stanley would have approved that at the time.

I forget now too, did the version released to cinemas in Europe get that same treatment or did they show it without the bodies inserted in front of the orgy sex? If I recall, I think the European DVD and Blu releases did not have the censoring in them.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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I believe the US release was the only one with the digital censorship, he had to deliver an R-rated film so it was either the silly cover-up or cutting the sequence.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I also thought some of Kubrick's changes to the story weakened The Shining. On the other hand, he improved upon A Clockwork Orange.

Improved because he did not use the final chapter of the novel as his ending? As I recall his film of Clockwork follows the novel pretty closely and I think that the primary issue Burgess had with the adaptation was Kubrick did not use the final chapter. I think this also had something to do with two versions of the novel being released. One that included the final chapter and one that dropped the final chapter. I think the version without the final chapter was only released in the United States or something and this was the version of the novel Kubrick liked best and worked from for the film.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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One of the big things I wonder about is why was Kubrick so obsessed with this novel that he chased making it into a film for about 40 years? I know in terms of adapting novels Kubrick was very picky and felt that it was extremely difficult to find a novel he felt was worth adapting... which in part led to some of the long gaps between his films. I think the most famous story about him going through novel after novel was when he decided he wanted to make some sort of supernatural film and so began reading everything he could get his hands on. I forget who told the story but he would sit in his office at home with stacks of books around him and he would pick up a novel and start reading until he got angry and threw the novel across the room and you would hear it thud against the wall. Then he would pick up the next one and start the process again until... thud! Then he finally stumbled upon The Shining.
 

jayembee

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I’ve grown to appreciate 2001 but can’t be convinced that the end of that movie isnt nonsense if you didn’t read the novelized version. Which I did.

It took me two viewings during its initial release, and several weeks of thinking about it, but I did work out what the ending was about. Bowman "aging" represented the course of his evolution into one of the patron race that uplifted humanity with the monolith. His appearance as the Star Child was the beginning of his being Something More Than Human.

I didn't read the novel until about a year later.
 

jayembee

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Improved because he did not use the final chapter of the novel as his ending? As I recall his film of Clockwork follows the novel pretty closely and I think that the primary issue Burgess had with the adaptation was Kubrick did not use the final chapter. I think this also had something to do with two versions of the novel being released. One that included the final chapter and one that dropped the final chapter. I think the version without the final chapter was only released in the United States or something and this was the version of the novel Kubrick liked best and worked from for the film.

That was a good part of it. Burgess wrote the novel from the perspective that unmaking a monster was a terrible thing, but remaking the monster was just as bad. And he believed that Alex (and his like) would grow out of his anti-social behavior. I'm not sure I agree with that, though I accept the argument.

But there were other, minor changes that Kubrick made. One example: in the novel, Alex and his droogs run into a man walking home (from the library, if memory serves), and they give him a violent beating. Kubrick changed it so that they beat a drunk. I felt that was a more powerful act, in that the drunk was incapable of defending himself. It made Alex &co. that much more venial. Which just makes it more interesting that one begins to feel sorry for Alex when his choice gets removed from him.
 

TonyD

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On recent viewings and listening to podcasts on 2001 I’ve been wondering what exactly was the plan for the Aliens.

Since Dave essentially was thrown into the whole thing really by accident.

If Hal was going to kill all the living people on that ship what was going to happen if Hal succeeded?
 

Winston T. Boogie

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That was a good part of it. Burgess wrote the novel from the perspective that unmaking a monster was a terrible thing, but remaking the monster was just as bad. And he believed that Alex (and his like) would grow out of his anti-social behavior. I'm not sure I agree with that, though I accept the argument.

But there were other, minor changes that Kubrick made. One example: in the novel, Alex and his droogs run into a man walking home (from the library, if memory serves), and they give him a violent beating. Kubrick changed it so that they beat a drunk. I felt that was a more powerful act, in that the drunk was incapable of defending himself. It made Alex &co. that much more venial. Which just makes it more interesting that one begins to feel sorry for Alex when his choice gets removed from him.

Burgess said he felt in order for something to be a great story, you need to see the main character change from what he is at the beginning to what he becomes at the end. He thought removing the final chapter where Alex puts his violent youthful ways behind him and settles into a family life was required for the novel to be good literature. I think Burgess was quite angry that the US publisher dropped his final chapter.

If I recall the story correctly, Kubrick's first encounter with the novel was the American version that had dropped that chapter and when he finally read that last chapter he did not like it and so stuck with the version that did not have it.

So, Burgess felt it was a failure of the film that Alex is the same at the end as he is at the beginning.

I do think the way Kubrick presents it, his version does a better job showing what a debacle the system is. It's a more cynical and difficult ending than the Burgess final chapter. I think Kubrick's ending is more powerful and leaves you thinking whereas the Burgess ending gives you more of a resolve/resolution.

I think your point about them beating the bum plays right into Kubrick's take on things. Beating a man on his way home from the library says something different and I think has more of a focus on the idea that youth has to grow out of violence and ignorance.
 
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Winston T. Boogie

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On recent viewings and listening to podcasts on 2001 I’ve been wondering what exactly was the plan for the Aliens.

Since Dave essentially was thrown into the whole thing really by accident.

If Hal was going to kill all the living people on that ship what was going to happen if Hal succeeded?

I believe that at one point Kubrick did intend to have us see the aliens. However, as they worked on what the aliens would look like he did not like any of the designs and did not want the picture to drift toward monster movie in any way. So, instead the aliens became a presence more than a thing.

This was Kubrick's shot at pure cinema. Visual storytelling where the dialogue was not telling you the story. I mean consider how elliptical the dialogue is in 2001. In key scenes where you would think you would get a big dialogue scene that explains things to the audience, he cuts away or gives you odd mundane dialogue, like talking about sandwiches or he sets up a big briefing scene on the moon, we see the room where the briefing is to take place, but then the picture just cuts away from that. When Dr. Floyd arrives on the space station we get a conversation with his daughter about what she wants for a gift and then a conversation that goes nowhere around the table with the Russian and the women.
 

jayembee

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On recent viewings and listening to podcasts on 2001 I’ve been wondering what exactly was the plan for the Aliens.

Since Dave essentially was thrown into the whole thing really by accident.

If Hal was going to kill all the living people on that ship what was going to happen if Hal succeeded?

Well, the aliens' apparent plan was to offer mankind the chance to be uplifted. Given that their process covered millennia (pre-hominids to 2001), they must've been a pretty patient bunch. It wouldn't have mattered to them who ended up being evolved, so whether Bowman succeeded in going through the stargate or not was irrelevant. I mean, the aliens buried a monolith on the moon, and it was up humans to find it. The aliens had no way of knowing ahead of time whether mankind would get that far or not. If the Cold War turned into a Hot War, mankind wouldn't have found the monolith, and there'd be no uplift. So whether HAL killed everyone on Discovery or not didn't really matter. Mankind would've tried again to send someone, or they wouldn't. What mattered to the aliens is that they gave mankind a chance.
 

TonyD

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Yeah that was what I was wondering about. Not what Kubrick’s plan for the aliens was.
 

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