Stanley Kubrick was a renowned American filmmaker, screenwriter and producer whose name has come to be synonymous with great influential works that have left a strong impact even after his death. He is well known for his creative methods in the field of the cinema and was not scared of directing movies with controversial themes in the most perfect manner his works are so well known for. Kubrick’s work was characterized by slowness and meticulousness at the same time. He went out of his way to produce the best he could with the script he had and he was able to do so successfully many times as his successful career well illustrates.
His character and career were outspokenly present in his works. His movies reflected his style of thinking and manner of working and therefore it is interesting to take a movie out of all those he made and to examine it as the case in point to grasp his career as a movie maker more. The best movie that is suitable for this purpose according to me is Eyes Wide Shut. It is a beautiful story that has captured my interest and captivated my emotions from the first time I saw it since these movie deals with themes that anyone of us can sympathize and feel naturally touched by.
The movie is concerned with the themes of despair, emotional confusion, loyalty, disappointment and morality versus the individual’s plight with temptation. It is a story that is about marriage, honesty and the question of what it really means to be in a committed relationship with another human being. I think the movie is the best example of Kubrick’s work since both the story and the style is characteristic of his development as a filmmaker. The way he presented the story in a shockingly provocative way that led the movie for a while to be censored, is another sign of his unconventional straightforward manner of working.
The subject of the movie itself is one that is unusual and familiar at the same time. The themes of loyalty versus temptation are universal but the presentation of it is not. The reclusiveness that characterized his life and career is also predominant in the character’s behavior within the movie. Everybody for instance seems obsessed with putting a mask on before entering the mysterious building he went into just to be surprised with the level of sexual festivity that was secretly taking place there by tens of individuals all wearing a mask to hide their identity.
This mask is also worn figuratively by the main character’s wife (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman) who for a while hid her unfaithful thoughts and fantasies from her husband. The mask and individual reclusiveness everybody engages in within the movie is a reflection of the thought process and point of view of the director himself towards life in general. The movie is also the perfect representation of his style and career since it did not abide to the conventional Hollywood methods of narrating the story.
That was something Kubrick was well known for. He liked to trespass the boundaries to create his own rules. His movies in general include a certain ironic pessimistic point of view within them which is well reflected in Eyes Wide Shut where the temptation seems to almost win time after time over loyalty and principles as the characters, and especially Bill, become more and more disillusioned in what they believed to be perfect before. This reflects Kubrick’s pessimistic attitude towards the imperfect state of human nature with all its weaknesses.
Kubrick managed to create a whole new reality in Eyes Wide Shut through the story of Bill Harford(Tom Cruise) whose shock to learn about his wife’s secret fantasies for another man drove him into a journey of voyeurism through the streets of New York in search of the certainty he felt he had lost with her confession . The movie mixes a strange combination of reality with dreams and the line between ambiguity and certainty is not just drawn in the theme but also in the events(the secret sex society) and the character’s feelings.
It is as if Kubrick sought to reassert the ambiguity and uncertainty of life at the end of his journey as the brilliant film director and deeply perceptive man he used to be known as. Kubrick himself declared Eyes wide shut to be his best movie ever made and the most important reason for why I would agree with him is because Kubrick managed once again to prove that he could produce a movie with mysterious provocative elements in an ambiguous way and still intrigue his audience.
We never learn for instance who the secret underground sex cult society is or why they operate the way they do. It remains a mystery and their inclusion within the story that is essentially a struggle between a married disillusioned, confused man and his wife, is also a mysterious element that however adds a lot to the sparkle of the story. This is characteristic of Kubrick’s style. He managed to present the most interesting themes in the most ambiguous way and still capture the interest of his fans while winning the hearts and admiration of others.