Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eyes Wide Whoa

Netflix recently led me to the film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999) which was Stanley Kubrick's last finished project. I had seen The Shining and Dr. Strangelove and in younger years, had heard that this film was just crazy and unsettling. I'm sure it would have been to a younger me. Anyway, I watched it and was truly entranced. This man makes good movies that also happen to freak me out. I don't know if I will ever watch this again. It's not something I would personally enjoy watching over and over, but when it's compared to the average film that's made, it has so much more to offer a thinking human being. I love entertainment. I love romance, glitz, glamour, and "pretty." I love light humor. But, in a moviegoer's diet, I think you need variety. You need a movie now and then that gives more questions than answers, that scares you or disturbs you more than it ties things up in pretty bows so you can have a clear picture of the universe in mind. I love happy endings, but sometimes, it's not what needs to happen in a film. I love escaping from reality, and I think what attracted me to this film, is that in escaping reality, it comes back to haunt you and it's this big messy circle of confusion. There are so many symbols in this film, so much thought behind the details (Christmas lights, masks, mirrors...). The lines that are spoken are odd. You don't expect characters to say the things they say, but when they go against the melody, it doesn't strike the ear as false.

To give one example, in the last scene of the film, Bill (played by Tom Cruise) and his wife, Alice (played by Nicole Kidman) are beginning to reconcile after a rough few days. In the final scene, Bill says "A dream is only a dream." To this Alice replies, "The important thing is: we're awake now, and hopefully for a long time to come." When Bill says "forever", I automatically sighed like a sentimental fool, but Alice responds with "Let's not use that word. It frightens me." There is a sense with these two characters that they represent two opposing belief systems. Bill clings to ideas of certainty, stability, security, while Alice looks deeper into things, into herself, into him, and refuses any learned notions about people, dreams, reality.

I don't know a ton about Kubrick or his themes, but I did a little light online reading about the film and the Freudian novella it was based upon (Traumnovelle/ Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler). It's such a crazy story and honestly reminded me a lot of a Symbolism project my group did for theatre history last quarter. ALSO, I recommend seeing this film if for one reason only: Alan Cumming plays a small, but hilarious role as a hotel desk clerk. You might appreciate him the most if you stick with seeing the whole film, as his character springs out of nowhere in humorous delight amid a lot of dark, scary plot twists. I WISH there was a youtube clip I could show.

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