Movie Guru Rebuts Review of Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut'

The films of Stanley Kubrick are famous for dividing critics, audiences, nations, and (in this case) movie gurus—which is good, because not too many movies these days inspire debate. Although I might be damning with faint praise, there were far more elements in Eyes Wide Shut that I liked than ones I disliked. While it is indeed a film with flaws, I think many of Mr. Weisfeld's specific charges are largely misplaced, based on misconceptions of what Kubrick's intentions were.

First, I don't think Kubrick was trying to create a perfect image of reality here; "dreamlike" seems like a more apt description of the Eyes Wide Shut mise en scène. Yes, Kubrick's New York isn't as noisy or populous as the real thing—so what? He was trying to create a mood of alienation and disorientation as Bill Harford wanders the streets in a daze, not one of complete urban reality (which would have defeated the scene's intent).

Second, while orgies today aren't a big deal per se, one supposedly populated by politicians, business leaders, etc. would require secrecy. Regardless, I don't believe Kubrick's intention here was to make an underworld exposé; it was to show the power of sex over people's lives in a very artsy (and sometimes silly) way. Yes, the dozens of naked women were props—just as they would be in such a setting. And, no, they weren't especially erotic—what makes you think Kubrick intended them to be?

Third, I don't think the AIDS line was meant to show us how gritty the hooking life can be—it was to suddenly spike Bill's ardor with a deflating dose of reality: casual sex can have repercussions. In the drama biz, this is called "foreshadowing."

When it comes to Kubrick's films, it doesn't help to watch them as a literalist. As for whether Eyes Wide Shut is a fitting coda for Kubrick's career, ask me in 10 years.

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