1999 ***** 159 mins.
The last film by the great Stanley Kubrick. The last and the best. It may take twenty times watching it, but eventually, one sees this film for the sheer brilliance that it is. One sees the thought and meaning Stanley Kubrick put into this film. All of Kubrick's signature traits are present, but there is so much more to this film than that.
This film comes from a novel titled Traumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler. The word "traumnovelle" means "dream novel". When looked at from many different "dream-like" perspectives, this film is given so many different dimensions and forms that one cannot help but fall in love with it.
Tom Cruise plays Bill Harford, a doctor who is happy with the stability of his life. One fateful night, though, his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) confesses a fantasy she had one time. This sets Bill on "an erotic foray that threatens his marriage--and may even ensnare him in a lurid murder mystery" (from the old DVD cover). Ultimately, there are some good lessons to be learned from this film, not only in the story, but also in how it was made. Stanley Kubrick spent 14 months filming this motion picture. He spent a couple of years before writing the project. So much could be said about this film; one little review could not possibly hold it all.
Only the unrated version is in print these days, and it is an improvement over the edited, R-rated version originally released theatrically and on home video in the U.S. There is no running time or story difference between the two versions. In the R-rated version, some more people are digitally inserted in front of some of the more explicit sexual events going on in the midsection of the film. I prefer the framing of the full frame versions, though. With Kubrick's last two films, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut, he framed every shot in such a way that, when presented in the open-matte of the original camera negative, it would look just as good, if not better, than the widescreen theatrical version. This was Stanley being a genius all over again. He knew that his films would be seen on televisions more than in a theatre. At the time, most televisions were still in the Academy aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The open-matte framing of Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut are wonderful. I just wish they had been an option on the blu-ray releases. These days, I typically watch the widescreen blu-rays, though, because blu-ray is the way to go on HDTVs. The unrated, full frame version of Eyes Wide Shut is especially difficult to find, though, as it was only released on home video internationally. Full frame versions in the U.S. are the R-rated cut. The blu-ray, HD DVD, and recent DVD releases are the unrated widescreen version.
Original theatrical aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Rated R for Strong Sexual Content, Nudity, Language, and Some Drug-Related Material.
Inspired by "Traumnovelle" by
Stanely Kubrick and Frederic Raphael