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Eyes Wide Shut (1999) (1 Viewer)

Josh Steinberg

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I agree with what Jay said.

The first monolith that prehistoric man discovered was placed there to give the species a nudge in the right direction. Every other monolith (the one on the moon, the one at Jupiter, the one in the hotel suite) was placed somewhere where it was up to mankind to reach those milestones and find its way to the next step.

I would imagine that there are other planets out there where the aliens did the same thing and those species didn’t evolve to reach their next milestones and discover the next monoliths hidden for them, and in those cases, those monoliths would have remained inert.

Gene Roddenberry’s idea in Star Trek is a similar one from the same time period, that Starfleet isn’t supposed to reveal itself to or interfere with species who haven’t yet discovered advanced space travel. It’s up to each species to evolve on its own before it becomes eligible to join a larger cosmic society.
 

jayembee

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Yes, it was made by Kirk Douglas's company, Bryna Productions. Kubrick considered it as work for hire, and did it largely as a favor for Douglas. He never considered it one of "his" films.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I agree with what Jay said.

The first monolith that prehistoric man discovered was placed there to give the species a nudge in the right direction. Every other monolith (the one on the moon, the one at Jupiter, the one in the hotel suite) was placed somewhere where it was up to mankind to reach those milestones and find its way to the next step.

I would imagine that there are other planets out there where the aliens did the same thing and those species didn’t evolve to reach their next milestones and discover the next monoliths hidden for them, and in those cases, those monoliths would have remained inert.

Gene Roddenberry’s idea in Star Trek is a similar one from the same time period, that Starfleet isn’t supposed to reveal itself to or interfere with species who haven’t yet discovered advanced space travel. It’s up to each species to evolve on its own before it becomes eligible to join a larger cosmic society.

So, once the apes meet the monolith the nudge they get is essentially, they become aware of a tool or weapon and then use it, to bash the living hell out of stuff. Prior to this they are a pretty peaceful bunch of apes. Then, the big cut, from the flying bone to the now really advanced weapon in space that can kill a lot of people at one time. You don't have to just bash their brains in one at a time anymore.

So, does the monolith nudge the apes in the right direction or does it just bring out the nature of the species? What they seem to learn all of a sudden is how to kill and we have advanced our ability to kill when the picture cuts to the future. We can do it on a grand scale.

The species reaches the second milestone on the moon. Which seems to trigger an alarm, a warning that we have hopped off our planet and have made it to the next closest object in space.

So, do you think that the alien intelligence is doing whatever it is doing to help mankind or to not allow our violent nature to further expand into the universe.

I mentioned the dialogue in the film and how when the characters speak, they say very little that demonstrates we have particularly evolved. We seem a bit of a paranoid species based upon the characters words and actions. Whatever the alien intelligence is, it seems far beyond us as a species. There is a sort of run of paranoia in the story, from Floyd not wanting to trust the Russian, they are clearing people off of the moon and not allowing others to land there, the paranoia of the two astronauts to HAL and his behavior, the secret meeting in the pod where HAL reads their lips.

I guess what I am wondering is, do people feel the alien intelligence is attempting to nudge us in right directions or is it just observing what we are?
 

jayembee

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I mentioned the dialogue in the film and how when the characters speak, they say very little that demonstrates we have particularly evolved.

The dialogue (I'm talking about Bowman & Poole on Discovery, not Floyd, et alia on the space station) is very dry, and presented in a monotone. "What do you want to do?" "I don't know; what do you want to do?" I've always thought this was done with deliberate purpose by Kubrick to give us a sense that mankind has become evolutionarily stunted.

(The same is true in Blade Runner, where the replicants appear to be far more emotional than the humans.)

I guess what I am wondering is, do people feel the alien intelligence is attempting to nudge us in right directions or is it just observing what we are?

Nudging us in the right direction.
 

TonyD

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Yeah Nudge for sure. That’s at least something that is clear in the movie.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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Nudging us in the right direction.

Yeah Nudge for sure. That’s at least something that is clear in the movie.

OK, I like this idea the reason I question it is, first I am not sure the film does show them being nudged in the right direction, and second, I think Kubrick comes at things from a cynical perspective.

I think whatever the monolith does to the group of apes that touch it and interact with it, does show they advance because we see them then take advantage of the other group of apes that had not interacted with the monolith. They overpower them through the use of the bone as a weapon. They display the ability to use a tool, in a violent fashion. The cut from the bone flying through the air to the nuclear device in space seems to show that while we have advanced our use of tools, we have done so to kill and dominate others from our species.

The second monolith on the moon does not appear to advance or inform the men that interact with it in anyway. It seems just a warning beacon. Warning the alien intelligence we are now on the moon. It does not do anything more than that and the humans seem as perplexed by the monolith they find on the moon as the apes are to the one they discover on Earth.

So, then we follow the beacon out to Jupiter. Essentially, what happens there is we are stopped in our tracks. As if the alien intelligence is saying, "Nope, you violent monkeys have gone far enough."
 
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Winston T. Boogie

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Reflecting this back at Eyes Wide Shut, I think that the way Kubrick examines human behavior is always with the idea that we will fall victim to our worse instincts. Dr. Bill has a beautiful wife, she has been faithful to him physically, but he is triggered by an indiscretion that took place only in her thoughts. At least this is how she describes it to him. She also may be just screwing with him because she is angry at how he portrays things. We don't know and neither does he.

This leads him to chase having a real affair because he knows she thought about having one. So, he chases down a sexual encounter to even things up between him and his wife. Except that she did not have one and when the Euro gigolo guy wants to convince her to have one with him she declines and gives as a reason "Because I'm married."

So we see she is faithful, he intends not to be but his attempts to consummate fail, and he runs into bigger and bigger problems until he is potentially in danger with some weird sex cult of the wealthy and powerful.

In the end he just wants to be back with his wife. Kubrick does seem to be taking a dim view of humanity here again.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I've always thought this was done with deliberate purpose by Kubrick to give us a sense that mankind has become evolutionarily stunted.

Yes, I agree with this. I think he does show us stuck in the same fears and paranoia and still using the tools at our disposal to kill.

So, what happens to Bowman? He is essentially taken in by the alien intelligence and basically deconstructed. I've heard Kubrick refer to him as an animal in a zoo and the alien intelligence is building these constructs for him like we build environments that we think make zoo animals happier. It's kind of interesting that in the end, the image of Bowman we see, him as a fetus in a womb, is as if to say, this is a species that needs to start over. That something went wrong once we were out of that fetal state and we are unleashed on the universe. The star child Dave Bowman is back at that peaceful and safe state where, as humans, we feel warm and safe and have no concepts of fear, paranoia, nor inklings toward violence.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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If you want to hear Kubrick’s explanation of 2001


It is kind of a funny and interesting description from Kubrick. I love the fact that he has thought so much about it that when he talks about the French architecture of the "zoo" room he says that it is intentionally inaccurate because he feels the alien intelligence is only guessing at what they think he might find beautiful. This is the kind of detail that I love about Kubrick.

Essentially, what he is saying is what I feel happened. That the aliens take Bowman in and deconstruct what he is and in the end he is rebuilt/reborn as the star child. Kubrick refers to the star child as a super man because he now is something more than a normal human being or beyond the point of where the human species is now. This goes to my point of how the alien intelligence may view the human species. I think Kubrick mentions how the humans could only view the aliens as some sort of god because they are so far beyond what we could understand, but, you have to then also consider the flipside of that coin, because you know Kubrick did. Which is to ask, how the alien intelligence would view humans. His example is the humans would be like ants and this would be the relationship.

This is part of why I say when the humans reach Jupiter, the aliens seem prepared to stop us there. They take Bowman in, examine him, deconstruct him, and then essentially rebuild him as, I think we would all agree, potentially something better. This may be the "nudge" that people feel happens in the right direction. However, we don't see what happens to the star child or if he plays a part in nudging humanity in a right direction.

Of course in the sequel film, the star child has not returned to Earth, the world is again on the brink of the ultimate violence, nuclear destruction, so there is no indication, if you go by that, that the alien intelligence has nudged us in a better direction and that their interest in us has been primarily observational. Just like Stanley's camera.
 
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jayembee

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OK, I like this idea the reason I question it is, first I am not sure the film does show them being nudged in the right direction, and second, I think Kubrick comes at things from a cynical perspective.

I think whatever the monolith does to the group of apes that touch it and interact with it, does show they advance because we see them then take advantage of the other group of apes that had not interacted with the monolith. They overpower them through the use of the bone as a weapon. They display the ability to use a tool, in a violent fashion. The cut from the bone flying through the air to the nuclear device in space seems to show that while we have advanced our use of tools, we have done so to kill and dominate others from our species.

The second monolith on the moon does not appear to advance or inform the men that interact with it in anyway. It seems just a warning beacon. Warning the alien intelligence we are now on the moon. It does not do anything more than that and the humans seem as perplexed by the monolith they find on the moon as the apes are to the one they discover on Earth.

So, then we follow the beacon out to Jupiter. Essentially, what happens there is we are stopped in our tracks. As if the alien intelligence is saying, "Nope, you violent monkeys have gone far enough."

You seem to be sort of stuck on this idea. The thing is that it all follows from the assumption that the aliens have a problem with violence and aggression, like Klaatu's people in The Day the Earth Stood Still. I'm not suggesting that they're of a kind with movie aliens who just want to destroy Earth. What I mean is that violence and aggression is part and parcel of evolution. It's part of why some species survive and others don't, and the aliens might understand that, whether or not they approve of it.

They planted the monolith on the moon as a means of determining if/when mankind reaches the level of intelligence to have space flight. But our space program was accomplished through the work of the man who built the Nazi V2 rockets. And the Space Race in general was the result of two major powers who were at the threshold of annihilating each other. Likewise, the internet came from the ARPANet, which was a Defense Department project. Technological advances often result from military beginnings.
 
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Winston T. Boogie

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You seem to be sort of stuck on this idea. The thing is that it all follows from the assumption that the aliens have a problem with violence and aggression, like Klaatu's people in The Day the Earth Stood Still. I'm not suggesting that they're of a kind with movie aliens who just want to destroy Earth. What I mean is that violence and aggression is part and parcel of evolution. It's part of why some species survive and others don't, and the aliens might understand that, whether or not they approve of it.

They planted the monolith on the moon as a means of determining if/when mankind reaches the level of intelligence to have space flight. But our space program was accomplished through the work of the man who built the Nazi V2 rockets. And the Space Race in general was the result of two major powers who were at the threshold of annihilating each other. Likewise, the internet came from the ARPANet, which was a Defense Department project. Technological advances often result from military beginnings.

Yes, I would say we are in agreement. What I love about Kubrick pictures is each time I watch one I may see or feel different things. My impressions can change, which I think is the mark of a great filmmaker. What I try to do is examine a film based on just what is in it, what the filmmaker delivers. I try to understand the why of why they did what they did. Mostly trying to avoid outside influences on my interpretation. Which is what Kubrick most wanted people to do with his pictures. Let us find them and what is in them and take what we take from them. He was not looking to cram a "correct" interpretation down our throats, which is something I feel most of today's filmmaking desperately wants to do. Now they literally are all wrapped up in pointing out to us "Look, we are being correct here and THIS is what is correct."

I think this is intentionally murdering the beauty of filmmaking. I like Kubrick's observational approach. He will show you things, you interpret them with whatever it is you bring to the table to do so.

Now because Stanley is gone, I/we can look at his body of work and attempt to understand it as a single statement. Meaning, we can find the connective tissue between his films. They were all different but there are things that connect them and themes he continues to explore. The violent nature of human beings is one of these things he returns to in his pictures. In 2001 he explores the nature of man from our beginnings as apes, to our evolution into space. He is seeing our technological advances but also our failings to move beyond our...well...emotional weaknesses.

Interesting that the Cruise character in Eyes Wide Shut is also driven by his emotional weaknesses. His "odyssey" is pushed along by his suspicions, paranoia, and desires. What I am saying is, I think we see Kubrick return to certain things he continued to examine.

The idea that we have to evolve/mature out of our violent nature is also in A Clockwork Orange, but again Stanley leaves the question open ended. Alex is forced to give these things up through the treatment he is given but does his nature really change. At the end of the film he appears to be the same Alex he was before they gave him the treatment.

I think it is interesting to question what 2001 presents. So, we do see the first monolith change the apes and they evolve to a more violent state. We move to the future and mankind is still in this violent state, perhaps even more so than the primitive apes. We are also expanding outward beyond our planet and the alien intelligence has left an alarm to alert them when we have done so. I am saying consider how this is presented to us in the film, based just on what is in the film. Mankind/humans are not better due to any alien assistance, they are just more mobile. In fact the film focuses on that mobility with the several spacecraft excursions it shows in great detail.

I don't see a part of the picture that really shows the alien intelligence pushing us in a direction with the exception, perhaps, of the end of the film. Even that though, with whatever they have done to Bowman, seems almost a rebirth of the species which would offer us a second chance. A chance to move beyond the paranoid and violent nature it seems we need to shed...if we want to survive.

I think the story the idea for the film is based on was called The Sentinel, which seems to reference an observer. I think this is primarily what the alien presence in the film is doing, observing, until we reach the outer edge of our solar system, when they do really interfere and have a close look at Bowman.

I don't think Kubrick has ever said this but when I watch the sequence in the room, I see a very elegant presentation of the idea that time is not necessarily how we observe it, which is in a linear sense but rather all time, all of our moments, can exist at once...we are just not complicated enough creatures to see or understand it.

This is the tremendous thing about a Kubrick picture for me, the rush of ideas, which he obviously thought deeply about, in creating his films. You/I end up thinking a lot in our interaction with a Kubrick picture.
 

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