Eyes Wide Shut – FELIX, Victor

Eyes Wide Shut was not the first Stanley Kubrick film that I have seen: I’ve seen The Shining and A Clockwork Orange. It was nice to see the reuse of masks, and I even recognize the signature long-nosed mask used in A Clockwork Orange. The distinctive emotional aura experienced instinctively in Kubrick films is also present.
The film revolves around the marriage of Bill and Alice Harford, specifically the period in between the fallout and the rapprochement. It covers a lot of themes: the mediocrity of marriage, the animalistic nature of man, the boundary between fantasy and reality, the illusion of attraction, and gender roles. The catalyst of the denouement happens when Alice divulges her previous sexual attraction to a Navy officer, thereby challenging the delusion of their perfect marriage. Actually, if one is technical, it could be said that the whole movie might have started because of a bad pot trip.
Moving on, devastated by the revelation, Bill’s world is shattered. Prior to this, he was sure about their relationship, never really considering that his wife is capable of infidelity. He becomes insanely covetous of his wife’s encounter, and suddenly we see him go from cool, calm, and collected, to borderline wrath or choler. He is plagued by what never happened (or could have happened, if you look at it differently) and it spurs him to do rash things. I think that this was inevitable, since the two characters are both staggeringly attractive in their own way, and sooner or later they were going to achieve a form of critical mass. Judging from their relationship, it is as if Alice was neatly compartmentalized into Bill’s perfect life, and ultimately this birthed her ennui.
It also can’t be helped, since both characters are sexually confident. Although they wear the fanciest clothing, just like all the other characters, they’re just animals in suits. Everything, from Ziegler’s party to the orgy in the manse, is carefully crafted to create an illusion of magnetism and arousal. I think this would be also good time to say that this also shows the duality of night and day, and by extension, fantasy and reality. The characters of Bill and Alice are different during the day and night, possibly because the night offers a sense of wonder, expectation, and anticipation. This is actually addressed, wherein Bill literally has to buy a tuxedo, a hooded coat, and a mask to enter the surreptitious party.
Now, the scene at the manse would be the highlight of the film, and it also extends, to some extent, a microcosm of the whole thing. First, right from the start the relationship between Bill and Alice has been predominantly patriarchal. It is incapable of being avoided: Bill is an alpha male and this is his hubris. This is alluded to when the men in the party are essentially in a high class brothel: the women are mere pleasure tools for the men, and they have sex openly as if they are authoritatively declaring this fact. The men are also clothed while the women are not. Secondly, Bill is shocked when he finds out that Alice may not have been the picture perfect wife he has come to know: it is as if she has spoken out of her station much like the prostitute who defended Bill, and she was punished for it. It is implied that Bill wanted to punish Alice, although not directly since he was close to cheating on her himself, even going out of his way to hire a prostitute. Thirdly, the party was kept in secret and we find out later that it was filled with high-ranking and affluent people. As mentioned, it is clear that the characters in the movie purposely hide their innermost sexual tendencies; that is obvious because no one can act thoughtlessly in public. But the fact of the matter is that, as much as one can have self control, there will forever be the shade of desire looming around. The question is just whether or not you act on it. This also highlights the taboo side of sexuality: since the participants take great lengths into hiding the party it just means what they are doing is fundamentally wrong.
Alice mentions, in an emotional scene, her dream/nightmare wherein she participates in an orgy. This particular scene takes the whole movie and turns it on his head because, strangely, it is a relatively exact account of what Bill just went through. I think that this brings into light the thin line between dreams and reality, and specifically it challenges the legitimacy of Bill’s encounter with the masquerade brothel. Either way, it discombobulates the viewer and adds another layer to the film. It is eerie, but it also closely encircles the entire film into a soundly whole. I couldn’t imagine watching the film again without it.
The film went full circle, and the dialogue at the end is successful in both explaining the title and concluding the recent events which happened to the Harfords. Alice says that what has happened to them shouldn’t define their married life, and that they should “fuck” at the soonest time. Marriage isn’t a prison sentence, especially in the liberal society that America is in: anyone can leave at any time. But ultimately, open communication and honesty can strengthen the bonds of marriage, even though this might lead to the surfacing of one’s flaws. A person who wants a relationship to last should have “eyes wide shut”, wherein everything is visible but some things are kept mum.
All in all, the film was beautifully done. The night scenes were, in my opinion, some of the best I’ve seen in a film. It achieved the type of surrealism that I believe Kubrick was going for. And the scene at the manse was extremely memorable, it certainly leaves a lasting impression. I would highly recommend this to any of my friends.


Eyes Wide Shut – DE LEON, Pristine

The moment Nicole Kidman bared her back hurriedly and unceremoniously to the viewers’ eye, on my mind I had the question, “That was it?” In some other films with erotic scenes, the body of a woman is gradually unveiled with excruciatingly slow pacing to the effect of creating tension and suspense and thereby heightening the spectator’s desire to finally see her beauty. The unveiling of the unknown becomes a spectacle to the viewer’s eye.

In this film however, the unknown is demystified and somehow rendered commonplace. The absence of a slow ceremony indicates that the unknown is not something to venerate. It is far from a spectacle; it is ordinary. Other scenes in the movie somehow illustrate this concept. One would be when Doctor Bill comes upstairs to cure Mandy who is seen sprawled on a chair with no clothes on. That instant flashing of the flesh onscreen signifies that there is nothing so spectacular in it that calls for pompous revelation. The corporeal is rendered material—as material as the chair on which it lies.

This is probably why critics argue that the film “Eyes Wide Shut” is not sexy. Instead of placing sex in that metaphorical dimmed light that generates the aura of seduction, it situates sex on a garish limelight that extinguishes the allure of mystery and seduction, and elucidates the quality of sex and body which is grotesque.

It is here that I applaud the cinematography of the film. It allowed me to realize that sex and the body itself are not so grand but what makes them so is how they are depicted. The film presents it as somewhat ordinary; not grand, but somehow even grotesque or beastly. One scene which demonstrates this is the orgy. The manner in which man and woman copulated is mindless, mechanic or animalistic; not at all erotic. Sex as lovemaking—with a connotation of romance—is reduced to sex only as intercourse.

Also in that scene, the people were wearing masks as they copulated. It is interesting that the face is covered while the body is blatantly exposed. The face, which signifies the more public self, is now hidden to give way to the revelation of the body, that which has been hidden—the more private self.

That is one of the things that the film does—it unmasks and penetrates the private to explore a somewhat hidden humanity that is base, primitive and deplorable. In the lives of Bill and Alice, the film goes beyond their status as socialites or their role as parents and reveals what they do behind their public image. Beneath the mask of civility, they attempt to cheat, they do drugs, they “f—.”

Ziegler even hints that those who take part in the orgy are rich, with high positions in society. The scenes wherein intercourse takes place is even embellished with elaborate decorations, representing the affluence of society. The film reveals that behind that mask of affluence and the pretentious civility it requires of those with money and power, lies the basest form of humanity, which is not spectacular or erotic. It is even primitive, animalistic.

Perhaps that is one reason why the film is titled “Eyes Wide Shut.” It provides a deep, “eyes-wide” perspective on the base internal. When the external world is shut out from view, one sees clearly what lies underneath.

Eyes Wide Shut – CANLAS, Punky

My first encounter with the film Eyes Wide Shut is when I saw a feature of the leading lady, Nicole Kidman, on E! (not sure if it was for E! True Hollywood Stories). Here, she talks about how it was working on such a controversial movie with her (then) husband, leading man Tom Cruise. Unfortunately, my viewing of this was cut short because my mom came in and saw the explicit scenes being flashed on my television screen. Moving on; I did not quite listen to the introduction given before Eyes Wide Shut was shown in class, but basing my judgement from what I have seen from the short clips shown during the feature I mentioned earlier, I had this whole idea that the film was about sex. However, as the film progressed, I realized that the plot was not just about sex per se, but of trying to save a crumbling marriage. Eyes Wide Shut, admittedly, was pretty easy (but very slow) to follow at the beginning. A pretty well-off family living in Manhattan, the couple attends a party, both kind of flirt around with other people; but once they get back home, the subject of infidelity was introduced, and that was when the whole film started getting weird. To be completely honest, Eyes Wide Shut was one of the most disturbing films I have seen not only in class, but in my entire life so far. I have no plans of watching it again.

The couple’s “bedroom scene” was for me, the unfolding of many truths, and the introduction of the film’s main conflict. They get in a heated argument, and this lead to Alice Harper (Nicole Kidman) confessing her deepest fantasy – having a sexual affair with a navy officer (?) whom she saw at a hotel they stayed in. When I took some time to think about this scene, I realized that the moment they were in kind of breaks the social belief where it is more likely for a man to commit adultery (than a woman). Which of course, may not be entirely true (I do not really know), but that is what a number of people believe. Having said that, this image stuck in Bill Harper’s (Tom Cruise) mind throughout the film – seeing his wife having sexual intercourse with another man. That particular thought was a recurring image until the end of the film, and was the main “hall pass” for Bill to do the same – or worse, commit adultery for real.

I did not entirely understand the need for the makers of the movie to include such a graphic orgy scene (I am pretty sure that was more that just one scene), but again, I thought about it and came to a conclusion that this served as a weighty test of loyalty for Bill. The two models at the party, Domino the prostitute, Domino’s roommate, the orgy cult group, and even the daughter of the costume store all served as “temptation” for the character to commit infidelity. In the end, I guess all that Bill Harper experienced that long night was enough to have him running back to his wife, and telling her “everything” (this was not shown, though). The end of the film is kind of questionable, though. As to whether or not they TRULY resolved their issues.

Eyes Wide Shut – YAP, Alaine

When I saw the first scene in the film I instantly realized that I’ve already watched it before. I wasn’t able to finish it though. I only got through half of it. The first time I saw it I remember being shocked by the scandalous revelations being made and done by the couple. I was surprised atAlice’s confession of having a fantasy with another man, but this was probably because I couldn’t imagine anyone who would cheat if your husband was Tom Cruise. I understoodAlice’s concern of her husband being a “babe magnet”. He’s good-looking, rich, and a doctor. I think any girl would worry at times. It’s ironic how this paranoia of Alice was what led Tom Cruise to actually try to cheat on her. You could say that she brought this upon herself.

I loved the scene where they were smoking pot and was about to have sex but then the moment was ruined. That scene sort of showed that women are over thinkers and will only see the negative sides of a comment intended to flatter. Similar to most posts you would see in 9gag. I found it a bit offensive but funny looking at how crazy Alice was being.

Bill, I felt sad for. I didn’t think it was his fault girls are attracted to him and he really didn’t do anything with those women anyway. But because of his wife’s own indirect infidelity, he was thrown off his own “good husband” role. He started to become desperate to have revenge on his wife. He was so desperate he paid for a whore, went to a sex club, and maybe even considered Mr. Milich’s daughter. In his path for revenge he put in line his life and even his family’s. He almost had sex with a woman who was found to be HIV positive, his family’s life is threatened when he tried to pretend to be part of the exclusive club, and even his friend’s life was harmed. Going through all of this just to get back at his wife for a “fantasy” seems to me as having too high a price to pay. Also, I admire how Bill was always, always, a gentleman throughout everything; paying the hooker despite not getting into bed with him, asking the woman from the exclusive club to leave with him, and other stuff. It made me laugh.

What I wasn’t sure about in the movie was the climactic scene when Tom Cruise saw the mask on the bed. I wasn’t certain whether it was real or all in his head. This was because when Alice woke up, I don’t think I noticed her ever looking at the mask. She even had a confused face as to why Bill was crying. The mask I think symbolizes the guilt Bill is carrying but I won’t get into that anymore. It amazed me how “good” Bill is that no matter how many times he was presented with the opportunity to cheat, he seems to be incapable of doing it.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. It was something you can pick a good lesson from about marriage. I found it new seeing Tom Cruise in such a serious film. I’ve always been used to him playing action roles. But I definitely think he nailed his part here.