Dream Walking: Eyes Wide Shut Video Essay

Eyes Wide Shut

By Fabian Broeker.

Eyes Wide Shut plays as a psychosexual New York dreamscape, with its characters constantly moving, Tom Cruise “dream-walking” his way to an uncertain destination. Characters retrace their steps, mirror each other and wander aimlessly through imposing, hollow interiors, decorated with bright pinpricks of light.

This is Kubrick’s nightmare odyssey, only coming to a standstill as Nicole Kidman utters that one final word, replacing movement with darkness, and ending Dr Harford’s quest for desire.

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Music: Schubert – Symphony n.8 D.759 ‘Unfinished’ in B minor – 1 Allegro moderato.

Eyes Wide Shut is a 1999 erotic drama film directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. Based on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story), the story is transferred from early 20th century Vienna to 1990s New York City. The film follows the sexually charged adventures of Dr. Bill Harford, who is shocked when his wife, Alice, reveals that she had contemplated having an affair a year earlier. He embarks on a night-long adventure, during which he infiltrates a massive masked orgy of an unnamed secret society.

Kubrick obtained the filming rights for Dream Story in the 1960s, considering it a perfect text for a film adaptation about sexual relations. The project was only revived in the 1990s, when Kubrick hired writer Frederic Raphael to help him with the adaptation. The film, which was mostly shot in the United Kingdom, apart from some exterior establishing shots, includes a detailed recreation of exterior Greenwich Village street scenes made at Pinewood Studios. The film’s production, at 400 days, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous film shoot.

Kubrick died six days after showing his final cut to Warner Bros. To ensure a theatrical R rating in the United States, Warner Bros. digitally altered several sexually explicit scenes during post-production. This version was released on July 16, 1999 to moderately positive reactions from critics; worldwide takings at the box office amounted to $162 million. The uncut version has since been released in DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc formats.



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