Books and Movies Reviews

Eyes Wide Shut

The “haunting” effects of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut can be identified as creating curiosity, fear and anxiety in the viewer. They can be understood as painting a mosaic of symbolism in the viewer’s eye, and as depositing fragments of concepts inside his mind. The film’s slow pace seems to open wide gaps between the joints of the story’s framework, causing the viewer to lose his secure sense of balance during the progression of the plot. Eyes Wide Shut is not a tale of terror nor one of mystery or of love; it is not a documentary about a married couple nor a psychological drama. It pretends to be all of these, and in so doing explores the filmic medium and secures the effects of its own elements.
Like any film that is carefully constructed, Eyes Wide Shut is the sum of its elements and of the ways by which these interact with each other. The most significant elements of the film are 1) color, particularly red, blue and yellow; 2) sound, such as voices plus external and internal music; 3) camera movement, especially the track-forward, track-backward and the revolving shot; 4) the dissolve, as the main transition technique between shots; and 5) the recursive figures of the Female Nude, Masks and Christmas Trees. Some of these elements are recognizable from the earlier Kubrick films, such as A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, a fact which reveals the signature of Kubrick the auteur.
Eyes Wide Shut can be divided into three parts, each of which contains the elements mentioned above. Part I introduces the main characters and their relationship towards each other. Dr. William Harford and his wife Alice attend a party where pianist Nick Nightingale (Todd Field), an old acquaintance of “Bill” and a pivotal character for the plot, provides the music. The Harford’s friend and host Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack), introduces his wife to his guests and later solicits Bill’s medical attention to save the overdosed prostitute and “beauty …