Eyes Wide Shut


c. 1996-99, Color Feature Film, UK/USA, 159min

Inspired by the rare 1926 novella "Traumnovelle" by famed early 20th Century writer Arthur Schnitzler, known in English-speaking lands as Dream Story, EWS was in development for over 30 years (Kubrick purchased the rights in the late 1960's)! This gestation period could be a record for the film industry, and EWS currently holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest constant movie shoot - over 15 months! EWSwould become Kubrick's final directed masterpiece, although it was not perceived as such upon release in 1999, perhaps somewhat due to the untimely death of Kubrick on March 7, 1999, just days after screening his edit to Warner Brothers for slated release in the USA on July 16, 1999. Without Kubrick being alive to actively market EWS his particular way and/or provide strategic interviews, the film may have suffered from misunderstanding of subject and intent, especially by powerful critics who could easily sink a film's box office in that era with a negative review. But with draw of Kubrick's name and the then-married Super Stars (Cruise & Kidman), the domestic & foreign box office intake was immediately respectful, and EWS took the crown as Kubrick's highest grossing film, despite also being his most expensive to produce (filmmaking inflation was a serious SK concern).

TRIVIA: While the released version of EWS in N. America is considered the cut Kubrick delivered shortly before his death (sans final post production), the surviving producers and Warner Brothers took the liberty to insert shadowy CGI figures in the notorious orgy scene to block some nudity/sex, so the film could receive a "R" rating by the MPAA for mainstream exhibition in the USA and Canada. The orgy scene nudity can be viewed without the interfering CGI in some foreign prints and the Special Edition DVD released in 2008 (See a comparison of EWS' orgy scene with and without the CGI). In addition to that particular visual controversy, the chant music used during the orgy scene upset numerous Hindus who claimed the use was inappropriate, and won removal of the revered chanting in certain theatrical release territories.

CONNECTIONS: Kubrick films are generally considered "dense" in that there are many visual and audio references to other works (previous Kubrick and 3rd parties including the classics) that could hold their own special meaning and relevance, while adding to the mise-en-scene. Apparently, the source inspired at least two screen productions prior to Kubrick's EWS, and it's fair to assume Kubrick studied the previous adaptation productions in addition to the novella.