A brilliant essay on Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut'

Moderators: DrVolin, 82_28, Elvis, Jeff

A brilliant essay on Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut'

Postby Bismillah » Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:25 am

What's the film about? I think this guy really gets it:<br><br>Introducing Sociology<br>A Review of Eyes Wide Shut<br><br>by Tim Kreider<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0096.html">www.visual-memory.co.uk/a.../0096.html</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>The last paragraph of this long but fascinating article:<br><br>"Certainly a subtler psychological reading of the film than has yet been attempted would be possible. But to focus exclusively on the Harford's unexamined inner lives is to remain willfully blind to the profoundly visual filmic world that Stanley Kubrick devoted a career's labors to creating. The slice of that world he tried to show us in his last--and, he believed, his best--work, the capital of the global American empire at the end of the American Century, is one in which the wealthy, powerful, and privileged use the rest of us like throwaway products, covering up their crimes with pretty pictures, shiny surfaces, and murder, ultimately dooming their own children to lives of servitude and whoredom. The feel-good ending intimates, in Kubrick's very last word on this (or any) subject, that the Harfords' daughter is, just as they've resigned themselves to being, fucked. "<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0096.html">www.visual-memory.co.uk/a.../0096.html</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br><br><br> <p></p><i></i>
Bismillah
 
Posts: 191
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2005 6:35 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: A brilliant essay on Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut'

Postby erosoplier » Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:49 pm

Brilliant, yes. I could go out and watch the movie again now, for the first time.<br><br>But I guess I'm still an artless philistine at the end of the day. The review may snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for Kubrick as a film-maker, but as a person he's his own best example - of a prostitute. A prostitute who donned a self-satisfied smirk while the client walked around with his eyes wide shut, and his pimps laughed all the way to the bank. <br><br>That's being as harsh as I can possibly be. He was here, and he did his thing, and he did it better than most - all is almost forgiven. But let's not forget that the thing he did so well works almost exclusively to support the entirely unsatisfactory status-quo. <br><br><br>__________________________<br><br><br>(I wrote the following earlier, for a different thread, but it seems to fit better here: )<br><br>I've all but stopped watching TV lately. The times I have turned it on, like earlier today, I've been reminded of the "primitive" idea that having your image captured on film entails some loss/potential loss of your soul. I think it might actually be profoundly true - scandalously true (think of the personality of a catwalk model, and then tell me I'm on the wrong track here). But the TV works in reverse - it pushes stolen images into your awareness. It doesn't work by stealing your soul from a distance, it's like a jungle vine, aggressively growing over the top of your native soul, smothering it <br><br> <p></p><i></i>
User avatar
erosoplier
 
Posts: 1247
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 3:38 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

The medium is not always the entire message.

Postby Bismillah » Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:19 pm

I don't think film is unsavable, and I don't think every report from hell has to be the devil's work. Kubrick and a few other very different contemporary filmmakers (Mike Leigh especially) surely demonstrate that not every product of an easily-dehumanising medium necessarily has to be dehumanising.<br><br>TV, though...<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://qlipoth.blogspot.com/2006/10/cornell-study-on-tv-and-autism.html">qlipoth.blogspot.com/2006...utism.html</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://lecolonelchabert.blogspot.com/2006/10/wastepaper_08.html">lecolonelchabert.blogspot...er_08.html</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br> <p></p><i></i>
Bismillah
 
Posts: 191
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2005 6:35 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Prostitution

Postby Bismillah » Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:38 pm

erosoplier: <!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr><!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em>"The review may snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for Kubrick as a film-maker, but as a person he's his own best example - of a prostitute. A prostitute who donned a self-satisfied smirk while the client walked around with his eyes wide shut, and his pimps laughed all the way to the bank."</em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END--><hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br>Is any one of us not a prostitute? Is any one of us not forced to be? I think that's one of the main points of Kubrick's film, made as only film can make it. And as long as there is a massive disparity of wealth and power in the world, I am glad that Kubrick was one of the few filmmakers wealthy and crafty enough to maximise his own independence. Because (exceptionally) he used that wealth, power and relative independence to show the sheer cruelty of the world-prostitution system that had made him so wealthy, powerful and relatively independent. <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p216.ezboard.com/brigorousintuition.showUserPublicProfile?gid=bismillah@rigorousintuition>Bismillah</A> at: 10/23/06 2:32 pm<br></i>
Bismillah
 
Posts: 191
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2005 6:35 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: payin for p's

Postby postrchild » Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:42 pm

Erosoplier (what is that name? I find myself repeating it over and over to myself.....oddly intriguing)<br><br><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>I've all but stopped watching TV lately. The times I have turned it on, like earlier today, I've been reminded of the "primitive" idea that having your image captured on film entails some loss/potential loss of your soul. I think it might actually be profoundly true - scandalously true (think of the personality of a catwalk model, and then tell me I'm on the wrong track here). But the TV works in reverse - it pushes stolen images into your awareness. It doesn't work by stealing your soul from a distance, it's like a jungle vine, aggressively growing over the top of your native soul, smothering it <hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br><br>I couldnt agree with you more. I too have had very similar ideas about TV of late. I almost feel guilty when I do watch what little I do. After being up here for a while you start to see things in a different way. Seeing things that you hadnt realized before; back when TV was just a mundane excuse from living life for a while...........seductively entrancing like the lure of the "angler fish". <p></p><i></i>
postrchild
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 2:53 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: payin for p's

Postby yablonsky » Tue Oct 24, 2006 2:42 am

great link. the money conclusion:<br><br><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>So the questions remain: did Mandy just O.D., or was she murdered? Was Bill's jeweled mask left on his pillow by Alice as an accusation, or by Ziegler's friends as a third and last warning, a death threat like the horse's head in the bed in The Godfather? These are crucial questions, ones that Kubrick deliberately leaves unanswered. And yet most reviewers didn't even seem to notice that they were questions, instead automatically projecting their own interpretations onto the story--most assuming that Ziegler was providing redundant exposition, that Mandy's death was the coincidence Ziegler claimed it to be, and that Alice put the mask there herself. (Dream Story does not even include the character of Ziegler, or any final confrontation with a member of the secret society, and it also makes it clear that it was the protagonist's wife who placed the mask on the bed.) But Kubrick bends over so far backward to preserve these ambiguities that they become glaring, demanding of us that we, like Bill, consciously decide what we're going to believe. Bill's reaction when he sees the mask in his bed could be interpreted either as shame and relief at having his lies exposed, or as the terrified realization that his wife and daughter could have been murdered in their sleep. When Alice wakes up to Bill's sobbing, her expression doesn't betray whether she's startled to see the mask beside her or already knows it's there. When we cut to her the next morning, her eyes swollen and red-rimmed with weeping, we don't know whether she's crying because her husband almost cheated on her or because he's endangered their family. And the final dialogue between Bill and Alice is so vague and allusive ("What should we do?" "Maybe we should be grateful,"<!--EZCODE EMOTICON START ;) --><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/wink.gif ALT=";)"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END--> that it could as easily refer to Mandy's murder and the implied threat to their lives as to Bill's indiscretions. If we choose to believe the former, then the Harfords aren't just reconciling over their imagined and attempted infidelities; they're agreeing to cover up a crime, to be accomplices after the fact to a homicide.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>This is the film's final test--a projection test, like the ambiguous cartoons with blank word balloons shown to Alex at the end of A Clockwork Orange to determine whether his conditioning has been broken. His lascivious and violent interpretations of the images proves that it has. But has ours? The open-ended narrative forces us to ask ourselves what we're really seeing; is Eyes Wide Shut a movie about marriage, sex, and jealousy, or about money, whores, and murder? Before you make up your own mind, consider this: has there ever been a Stanley Kubrick film in which someone didn't get killed?<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br>good stuff. <p></p><i></i>
yablonsky
 

Re: A brilliant essay on Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut'

Postby compared2what? » Sun Jun 08, 2008 1:56 am

erosoplier wrote:Brilliant, yes. I could go out and watch the movie again now, for the first time.<br><br>But I guess I'm still an artless philistine at the end of the day. The review may snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for Kubrick as a film-maker, but as a person he's his own best example - of a prostitute. A prostitute who donned a self-satisfied smirk while the client walked around with his eyes wide shut, and his pimps laughed all the way to the bank. <br><br>That's being as harsh as I can possibly be. He was here, and he did his thing, and he did it better than most - all is almost forgiven. But let's not forget that the thing he did so well works almost exclusively to support the entirely unsatisfactory status-quo.


I'd say it was an intelligent review, and reserve the word "brilliant" for the movie. But mostly, I'm posting to respectfully dissent from the characterization of Kubrick as a prostitute.

What would you have had him do, honey? He made art with the aim of provoking people to think for themselves about issues that were, to him and to most on this board, essential.

Though it's true that most moviegoers aren't interested in anything more than being led to water, I think it's a little unjust to blame that on one of the few well-known American movie-makers whose work offers those who are the opportunity to drink.
User avatar
compared2what?
 
Posts: 8383
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 6:31 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

Postby mulebone » Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:38 am

I don't understand how Kubrick could be considered a prostitute. I think that all good art has no choice but to present itself in the very culture it's attempting to subvert. Kubrick was one of the few old school subversives left in the film industry. He was fearless in showing us ourselves and his insight was, in my opinion, pretty goddamn timeless.

Witness this "pep-talk" Bush the Feeble-Minded gave his troops before the 2004 invasion of Fallujah and Najaf:

“Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can’t send that message. It’s an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal.

“There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!”

This could be a scene taken directly from Dr. Strangelove.
Well Robert Moore went down heavy
With a crash upon the floor
And over to his thrashin' body
Betty Coltrane she did crawl.
She put the gun to the back of his head
And pulled the trigger once more
And blew his brains out
All over the table.
mulebone
 
Posts: 279
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2006 12:31 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

Postby erosoplier » Sun Jul 06, 2008 8:49 pm

compared2what? wrote:I'd say it was an intelligent review, and reserve the word "brilliant" for the movie. But mostly, I'm posting to respectfully dissent from the characterization of Kubrick as a prostitute.

What would you have had him do, honey? He made art with the aim of provoking people to think for themselves about issues that were, to him and to most on this board, essential.

Though it's true that most moviegoers aren't interested in anything more than being led to water, I think it's a little unjust to blame that on one of the few well-known American movie-makers whose work offers those who are the opportunity to drink.


Well, I'll respectfully stand by every word I wrote in my first post. Though I am dissing the entire genre, so it makes it difficult.

Sure, in a sense we're all prostitutes, but with Kubrick I do mean it in a more profound sense than that. Like, if it were really about it and not him, Kubrick would have made scathing documentaries about the filthy rich instead of films. The bottomline is, rejection is rejection. Rejection isn't "Let's make a movie about it." Rejection isn't "I'm a Film Maker so let's make an ambiguous, ambivalent movie about this thing which I reject." But I would argue that Kubrick wasn't rejecting anything in EWS, so this wasn't actually an issue for him.

The guy who wrote the movie review is a (small 'p') philosopher with a social conscience, whereas Kubrick, who provided the object of study for the movie-review guy, was merely an illusionist-magician storyteller. (That's what filmmakers are - illusionist-magician storytellers - and I don't mean that in a nice way either). The review was the kindest interpretation of the movie imaginable, let's not forget, but even if the reviewer's interpretation was Kubrick's intent, most people, people like me, went to the movie and didn't drink what the reviewer is convinced was being served.

And that's a big "if," btw. Compare the kind of values Kreider implicitly credits to Kubrick with what is said about Kubrick's politics at Wiki:
In his memoir of Kubrick, Michael Herr, his friend and co-writer of the screenplay for Full Metal Jacket, wrote:

Stanley had views on everything, but I would not exactly call them political... His views on democracy were those of most people I know, neither left or right, not exactly brimming with belief, a noble failed experiment along our evolutionary way, brought low by base instincts, money and self-interest and stupidity... He thought the best system might be under a benign despot, though he had little belief that such a man could be found. He wasn't a cynic, but he could have easily passed for one. He was certainly a capitalist. He believed himself to be a realist.


Herr also wrote that Kubrick owned guns and that he did not think war is entirely a bad thing. In the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, Herr says "… he also accepted to acknowledge that, of all the things war is, it is also very beautiful." Kubrick, according to Ian Watson, reportedly said of the pre-1997 socialist Labour Party “If the Labourites ever get in, I’ll leave the country.” Watson explains that Kubrick was extremely opposed to laws on taxing the rich and welfare in general.[9]


Can they be talking about the same guy?

*

When I first saw the movie, I didn't rush out to see it because I'm not interested in the lifestyles of the filthy rich. I especially wasn't interested in seeing Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise turn in a "restrained" (and outrageously over-hyped) sex-lives-of-the-filthy-rich performance. I haven't yet gone and watched it for a second time for similar reasons, even though Kreiger's review has set the scene for a richer experience. I'm still not interested in seeing the lives of the filthy rich depicted on screen. Forget about drinking, I don't even want to sidle up to this particular bar.

Someone responds "well you oughta be interested because a lot hinges on the behaviour and proclivities of the filthy rich," but I already know that, right? I want to see documentaries on the filthy rich. I want to see proposals to tax them more and otherwise claw some of their wangled wealth back. I don't want to see movies made about them, because film is a genre which uses illusion to do what it does, and what it does best is celebrate, rather than condemn.

And because for another thing, thirsty people go to see them and think "wow, how cool would it be to be rich!" A million thirsty people will think this for every time an intelligent movie reviewer can divine a scathing critique of extreme wealth as one of the core themes of the movie.

And the same applies to war movies. You don't condemn war by making a movie about it.
User avatar
erosoplier
 
Posts: 1247
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 3:38 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

Postby compared2what? » Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:01 am

Ah. Well, we then must agree to disagree. One person's mere illusionist-magician-storyteller may easily be another person's mind-blowingly great artist, and there's some serious beauty in that "easily." Because life just doesn't offer that many chances for people to have strongly felt differences of opinion without losing a single thing any of them values.

In fact, though I liked the essay in the OP a lot, enjoyed reading it, and was stimulated to thought by it, I barely agree with its interpretation of the movie at all, as it happens. So basically there's no reason I can think of for it not to be all good: If your considered opinion is as you say, I'm happy to respect it.

Let's just find some other area of mutual interest and meet there instead!
User avatar
compared2what?
 
Posts: 8383
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 6:31 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

Postby brainpanhandler » Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:14 am

And because for another thing, thirsty people go to see them and think "wow, how cool would it be to be rich!" A million thirsty people will think this for every time an intelligent movie reviewer can divine a scathing critique of extreme wealth as one of the core themes of the movie.


You don't really believe that the folks who watch EWS and react with "wow, how cool would it be to be rich!" will ever be convinced to adopt a different view of wealth or would ever be very likely to want to watch a scathing documentary on the disparity of wealth and power between the rich and the poor in the world, do you?

I've watched EWS at least a dozen times and I own all of Kubricks films on DVD. I think it is hard to appreciate EWS without being familiar with the entire body of Kubrick's work, as well as the politics he had to play to get his films made and distributed. It's all of a piece. He was apparently just as masterful at those politics as he was at making films.

Do keep in mind Kubrick did not get the final cut on the version of EWS you and the reviewer have seen. Apparently this is a point that would not really matter to you?
"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." - Martin Luther King Jr.
User avatar
brainpanhandler
 
Posts: 4934
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 9:38 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Postby JackRiddler » Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:22 pm

Hi, c2w:

compared2what? wrote:
In fact, though I liked the essay in the OP a lot, enjoyed reading it, and was stimulated to thought by it, I barely agree with its interpretation of the movie at all, as it happens. So basically there's no reason I can think of for it not to be all good: If your considered opinion is as you say, I'm happy to respect it.

Let's just find some other area of mutual interest and meet there instead!


Reading Kreider's essay and exposition I thought, finally, here is someone who saw the same movie I did, and describes all the same essentials (most of all that it's not about the inner psychological torments of the protagonists but very obviously about the brutal milieu of the super-rich in which they move).

So as someone also very devoted to Mr. Kubrick's work, and always willing to talk about it: How you disagree with this essay's interpretation of the film?
User avatar
JackRiddler
 
Posts: 13442
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 2:59 pm
Location: New York City
Blog: View Blog (0)

Postby compared2what? » Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:03 am

JackRiddler wrote:Hi, c2w:

compared2what? wrote:
In fact, though I liked the essay in the OP a lot, enjoyed reading it, and was stimulated to thought by it, I barely agree with its interpretation of the movie at all, as it happens. So basically there's no reason I can think of for it not to be all good: If your considered opinion is as you say, I'm happy to respect it.

Let's just find some other area of mutual interest and meet there instead!


Reading Kreider's essay and exposition I thought, finally, here is someone who saw the same movie I did, and describes all the same essentials (most of all that it's not about the inner psychological torments of the protagonists but very obviously about the brutal milieu of the super-rich in which they move).

So as someone also very devoted to Mr. Kubrick's work, and always willing to talk about it: How you disagree with this essay's interpretation of the film?


Well....I'll try to respond when I once again have a working computer. But I don't think I'll succeed, owing to having dealt with my writer's-block issues by ceasing to write. Which was both expedient and effective, but not really what you could call a resolution of the problem. And I don't know how else to think about formulating a response. (I mean other than: As a writer.) FWIW, though, I agree one-hundred-fucking-percent with his basic premise. (..."[W]e should assume that this characterization is deliberate -- that their shallowness and repression is the point.") As I said, it's a first-class, intelligent and thought-provoking reading of both the movie and of Kubrick's oeuvre in general. Though I have to admit that I didn't say it very convincingly. For which I'm ashamed of my snooty self. Actually -- and I do mean this in an affirmative way! -- it wouldn't be inaccurate to say that I barely agree with almost all of it. As far as it goes, which is pretty far, imo, when I'm not being snootier than I have any reason to be. Nevertheless. If I were capable of making any argument, I'd argue that it's primarily a philosophical work, not a sociological one. Which, oddly enough, makes it a more encompassing comment on society and the hopeless, helpless blindness in which just about every person in it exists about 99.9 percent of the time. Albeit defined in somewhat different terms than the essay's. And I would certainly elaborate on exactly what those were right now if I weren't such a loser. Which I (less certainly) guess I'll do if by some freak chance I don't end up defeated. But I'm not very hopeful about that, to be honest.

However, since I enjoy trying for it's own sake when it's not in a high-stakes context, I'm nothing but happy to try. Except of course about the very high potential for being a total disappointment to others, ultimately. I absolutely fucking hate that part, but can't think of anything constructive to do about it at the moment other than to implore you to accept my apologies for it in advance, which I sincerely hope you will.
User avatar
compared2what?
 
Posts: 8383
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 6:31 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

Postby barracuda » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:20 pm

A pretty stupid little essay, but I thought I'd post it here anyway...

    Jacques Vallee - Polanski and Kubrick: Two occult tales

    In our age of rational science the occult has never been more in demand: Angels and demons are popular, the Da Vinci code and lost symbols fascinate audiences worldwide and Hollywood is eager to turn out more movies with a paranormal theme. So why is it that so many of these stories seem flat, and fail to reach the level of insight into hidden structures of the world true esoteric adventures are supposed to promise?

    Perhaps the answer has to do with the failure of gifted directors to come to grips with the enormity of the unknown issues of human destiny, or to pose the fundamental questions their esoteric subject would demand. We go away charmed by artistic visions, dazzled by the pageantry of cardinals in red capes and titillated by women in black garters but the Illuminati only scare us because of the blood they spill, not the existential issues they should transcend. They behave like any other gang of thugs, even if they utter their rough curses in Latin rather than street slang, cockney or modern Italian.

    The circumstances that made this point clear to me arose when I watched again two movies within a few days, namely Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut and Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate.

    I was struck by the suspicious similarities and the enormous differences between them. In earlier viewings both had thrilled me with the superb photography, the great acting, and the expansive landscapes. A second experience made me wonder about the themes themselves: the contrast was striking. The story line of Eyes wide shut turns out to be not only unbelievable but downright silly. It could be summed up as "Handsome young millionaire doctor tries to get laid in New York for three days and fails!" In the process he has joined a fake black mass and deciphered a few facile occult clues but there is no point to any of it. I do understand that Kubrick, like Umberto Eco in Foucault's Pendulum, was attempting to say something profound about magic and eroticism but he only produced clichés, vague references to tired grimoires and gratuitous gropings: those black garter belts again.

    The Polanski movie, in contrast, is dangerous and captivating from the very first frame. It combines a profound understanding of hermeticism with the breathless beauty of a quest for infinity. It completes it with the exquisite aesthetics of an adept who knows what should be exposed and what should remain hidden. Polanski has recognized the power and genuineness of his cause, his story, his landscapes, while Kubrick only exemplifies the well-trained academic intellectual who scrutinizes the magical from the outside and just doesn't get it, flashing the conventional symbols before us like so many obligatory props. Occultism is not science-fiction. The splendid photography doesn't fill the emotional gap.

    It was striking to me that both movies took the protagonists to very similar situations and to the same places - the region of Pontoise in fact, so charged for me in magical memories. Should we suspect that the scripts circulated from desk to desk in Hollywood, as is so often the case, and that both stories emerged from a bit of plagiarism? Let's not go that far: perhaps it was simply a case of lucky occult coincidence.
The most dangerous traps are the ones you set for yourself. - Phillip Marlowe
User avatar
barracuda
 
Posts: 12887
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 5:58 pm
Location: Niles, California
Blog: View Blog (0)


Return to Culture Studies

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest