Stanley Kubrick died on 7 March 1999 at his Hertfordshire home, having finished the editing of his last film. Eyes Wide Shut was released later that year. Adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 Viennese novel Dream Story, relocated and updated to contemporary Manhattan, Eyes Wide Shut stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a prosperous couple whose marriage is tested in the aftermath a series of sinister events.
The film baffled many of its first audiences. It had all the lavish attention to detail of a Kubrick film but it seemed slow, enigmatic, too much of a dream. Michel Chion’s extraordinary study of Eyes Wide Shut makes the case that it is one of Kubrick’s masterpieces and a fitting testament.
To appreciate this, though, it is necessary to look at what happens on the screen without bringing preconceptions to bear. The film needs to be taken at face value. Looked at this way, Eyes Wide Shut reveals itself to be a deeply moving film about characters who are not so different from real people, a film about life in which questions of meaning and motive lose their value.
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