‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is Ten Years Old, Did You Buy It a Present?


Ten years ago today Warner Bros. released Stanley Kubrick’s final film, the sexually charged romantic thriller Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and several folks around the Internet are celebrating.

First off, over at Movieline they have posted a pair of retrospectives, one of which is a short video interview captured with Leelee Sobieski on the red carpet of Public Enemies. Sobieski played the costume shop owner’s young daughter, and being one to not shy from exaggeration, she recalls the time on set saying Kubrick was the most “open [director she’d] ever worked with … even as a little kid, I could feel it.” She must have a magical memory considering she was only 13, but then again I guess that wouldn’t exactly be something you would forget. The site has video right here.

The better piece from Movieline, however, comes in the form of an interview with Vinessa Shaw who playd Domino, the prostitute with whom Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) shares a preempted encounter on his late-night walking tour of New York. Here’s a snippet:

Part of the legend on Eyes Wide Shut is that the kiss you share with Tom was the most frequently shot take of the entire film.

It was? Oh my God.

It’s not a short kiss either. Do you remember how many takes it took?

I don’t remember that one. I do remember coming into the apartment — the Steadicam shot. The set was real. It was built with the real dimensions of a New York apartment, so there were no breakaway walls or anything. The camera operator had to somehow maneuver through it, and it was a very tricky, tricky shot. So that was the one I heard about: It was 69 takes. We beat out Full Metal Jacket at that point. Or at least that’s what I remember [executive producer] Jan Harlan telling me.

In speaking about the film, Christopher Rosen in a March 2009 piece at The Observer recalls the film using the length of the shoot and Kubrick’s death as his lede:

In more hyperbolic circles, Eyes Wide Shut is the movie that killed Stanley Kubrick. The isolated and meticulous director spent over 400 days shooting the film, ran through a number of actors and had to work with what was, at the time, the biggest star-couple on the planet: Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. That he managed to turn in a final cut three days before suffering a massive and fatal heart attack in his sleep is a testament to his commitment to the project. It’s quite possible that under those circumstances a lesser director would have passed on long before its completion.

Rosen goes on to say, “Eyes Wide Shut isn’t that good,” which is something I disagree with intensely. Back in November 2007 I was reviewing the Warner Home Video Stanley Kubrick DVD Collection and Eyes Wide Shut was my final installment. Prior to reviewing the film I had only seen Eyes Wide Shut once, but upon revisiting it I found myself liking it so much more than I remembered and I have since updated my collection with the Blu-ray version and it is easily one of my favorites from Kubrick.

Photo: Warner Bros.

Kris Tapley at InContention.com agrees as he points us to a piece he wrote back in March marking the 10-year anniversary of Kubrick’s death recalling the first time he saw the film saying, “I knew I needed more time to turn it over, but I also knew that somewhere, deep down, I truly loved it, even if it wasn’t what I expected or wanted. It was something else, something deeper, something with more nuance than the beefiest of reviews could begin to address.” Agreed, and it’s one of the reasons writing my piece back in 2007 was so tough. Tapley also directs us to the re-printing of a 2002 essay on the film from The Mutiny Company which you can read right here.

Finally, as part of their 50 Greatest Trailers, IFC listed the trailer for Eyes Wide Shut at #43 citing Chris Isaak’s “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing.”

Eyes Wide Shut is one of those films you can’t help but have an opinion on, and I would be surprised if that opinion wasn’t a strong one as it evokes so many emotions from its characters and consequently its viewers. You can read my earlier piece on the film right here and should you somehow not have this film already in your DVD/Blu-ray collection click here and remedy the situation.

ADDED BONUS: Nicole Kidman’s Schweppes Commercial: