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Film / Eyes Wide Shut

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Alice Harford: Millions of years of evolution, right? Right? Men have to stick it in every place they can, but for women... women it is just about security and commitment and whatever the fuck else!
Dr. Bill Harford: A little oversimplified, Alice, but yes, something like that.
Alice Harford: If you men only knew...

Eyes Wide Shut is Stanley Kubrick's last film, completed just days before his death and released sporadically from July to September, 1999. Based on Arthur Schnitzler's 1926 novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story), the story is transferred from early 20th century Vienna to 1990s New York City.

The film follows Dr. Bill Harford (played by Tom Cruise) as he spends two noirish, surreal nights on his sexually charged adventures wandering New York City when his wife Alice (played by Cruise's then wife Nicole Kidman) reveals that she had contemplated an affair a year earlier.

No relation to Dies Wide Open.


Provides Examples Of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Most of the episodes in the original novella are adapted one to one, with some minor differences. Some larger changes exist though: In the film, the party is explicitly shown to be an orgy, whereas in the book this was just strongly hinted at. The scene with Bill and Victor towards the end is also an addition, as the "Traumnovelle" left the story fairly open.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The film's tagline: "Cruise. Kidman. Kubrick."
  • Advertised Extra: Nicole Kidman largely disappears from the film after the first half hour.
  • All Just a Dream / Schrödinger's Butterfly: Very subtle hints in the movie provide clues that this is so. After all, the movie is called Eyes Wide Shut, and the novella is titled "Traumnovelle" ("Dream Novella").
  • All There in the Script: According to the screenplay published to tie in with the film, the girl at the Costume store whispers "You'll need an ermine lining for your cloak" to Dr Harford.
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  • Ambiguously Bi: Bill's conversation with Nick borders on the flirtatious.
  • Big Fancy House: The lavish countryside mansion where the orgy is held. Shot at Mentmore Towers.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: A group of homophobic teenagers assault Bill because they think he's gay, no one seems to want to help him find Nick, and he only traverses in the gritty, crowded sections of the city. The toy store scene at the end is especially claustrophobic.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Bill is found out when he doesn't know the "house password" for the mansion. There never was a "house password". Notably, the novella leaves it unclear whether the password existed or not.
  • Break-In Threat: Possibly. It's unclear if the cult broke in and left Bill's mask on his bed as a threat or if Alice simply found it and placed it there herself.
  • The Conspiracy: Bill thinks he's stumbled onto a terrible one, but the ending leaves it unclear.
  • Cuckold: In an odd way. Alice admits to her husband that she'd come very close to cheating on him but hadn't gone through with it, but for a long while afterwards, Bill dwells on this as if it had actually happened, and his increasing hurt and anger propel him into the bizarre circumstances he finds himself in as the film progresses.
  • Cult: One possible interpretation of the ritualists.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Heavily implied with Mandy, a hooker -according to Victor- who dies under mysterious circumstances, and halfway with Domino, who learns that she's HIV-positive and is never seen again right after Bill meets her.
  • Fan Disservice: The orgy scene is not exactly sexy. The unhealthy ritual and atmosphere around it give the whole scene a very uncomfortable feeling.
  • The Film of the Book: Traumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler.
  • Gainax Ending:
    Alice: "Fuck."
  • He Knows Too Much: Bill and Nick after the orgy. It's stated that Nick got the crap beaten out of him by the wealthy men whose orgy he helped Bill crash but no one can locate him. Furthermore, the man who tells Bill this only does so as part of a hard sell to Bill to keep quiet about what he saw, with it heavily implied that bad things will happen to Bill if he doesn't forget what he saw.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: "I am ready to redeem him."
  • The Illuminati: Someone is behind the orgy.
  • Inspired by...: A very rare case of inversion. The closing credits state that the film was "inspired by" the Arthur Schnitzler's novella, but it is in fact a rather faithful adaptation (down to the key pieces of dialogue).
  • In Vino Veritas: Bill and Alice can only get a bit more honest with each other after smoking a joint. This is an interesting deviation from the original novella, where no psychoactive substances were needed for the game changing confessions.
  • Kubrick Stare: Seeing how he's the main character in the last movie by the Trope Namer himself, Bill does the stare from time to time.
    • Alice also does it when describing the incident with the sailor.
  • Left the Background Music On: At the very beginning, "Jazz Suite, Waltz 2" plays during the opening credits, until it's abruptly shut off.
  • Locked Room Mystery: Subverted with Mandy who rescues Bill at the party by offering to "sacrifice" herself and is later found dead from an overdose in her apartment. The police report says her door was locked from the inside and it's not questioned by anyone besides Bill that it really was just an accidental overdose that killed her and not foul play.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: A fair number of them are present at the "masked ball".
  • Mind Screw: The movie has both dream-like visuals and consequently operates in dream logic. See All Just a Dream above.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Bill is bullied and hassled by a group of jocks who call him homophobic slurs. While they may just be out to give him trouble, the scene is played in a way that implies they're harassing him because they genuinely think he's gay.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Alice is lightly clothed or naked for most of the movie. At a first glance, the orgy is full of fanservice extras.
    • Milich's daughter.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: They did a bad bad thing? Well, if they do, it's offscreen! This famous political analysis of the film says "a bunch of middle-school kids who'd snuck in to see it and slunk out three hours later feeling horny, frustrated, and ripped off." All the depicted sex is totally unsexy, if not censored.
  • Nice Guy: Bill has issues and frustrations but is quite balanced for a Kubrick protagonist; he's smooth, bland, a good parent, treats working-class people with consideration and eventually comes clean to his wife.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The whole film, especially the scenes during and after the masked ball, have an overwhelming sense of dread. We know something sinsiter is going on with the cult and its actions, but we never find out what. Even more disturbing is thinking about what the cult did to the masked woman who sacrificed herself to save Bill, assuming Ziegler was lying. Seeing her led off into the dark makes one think it wasn't pleasant.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The sinister chanting during the "mass," when Harford first enters the mansion, is in fact part of a Romanian Orthodox Divine Liturgy, played backwards as is usually done during black masses.
  • Plague Doctor: One of the cultists.
  • Precision F-Strike: The last line of the story has Alice telling Bill what they need to do as soon as possible: "Fuck."
  • Quest for Sex: With his wife's fantasy of an affair haunting him, Bill Harford goes on a voyeuristic exploration to deal with his sexual frustration. Probably shouldn't have visited that mansion party though. And in the end, he never gets it.
  • Retargeted Lust: The wife seemed to be trying to generate this both by bringing up other women with her husband and telling him her fantasies about running off with a sailor, but instead it plunges him into turmoil and doubt. So she eventually just straight up propositions him.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Was there any foul play in Mandy's death? Was she even the same woman as one at the orgy, given that the latter was portrayed by a different actress?
  • Rule of Symbolism: The ceremony at the beginning of the "masked ball" is inspired from a Satanic ritual using reversed Orthodox liturgy, naked women as sex slaves and Masonic-like rituals to initiate an orgy. Not to mention the use of passwords.
  • Scenery Censor: In order to bring the rating down from NC-17 to R, extra people were digitally inserted into the orgy scene via CGI to cover up genitalia.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: The orgy club.
  • Serious Business: Alice didn't even cheat on Bill. She once fantasized about cheating on him. This revelation rocks Bill to his core and sends him off on his Quest for Sex.
  • Sexy Spectacles: Alice's penetrating gaze from behind her glasses underscores her sexiness when she's clothed.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Bill is encouraged to stop his "pointless investigation" on the secret society, or else.
  • Shout-Out: The password is "Fidelio," an opera from Ludwig Van. Little Alex would be grinning somewhere.
  • Spotting the Thread: It's rather telling to arrive at a fancy party in the middle of nowhere in a taxi when everybody else arrives in a limousine, as well as wearing a different cloak than everyone else and not donning your mask until you've already entered the house.
  • Streetwalker: Domino, who's awfully good looking for a streetwalker.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Victor reassuring Bill that Mandy's death was purely accidental can come off as this.
  • Symbol Motif Clothing: Bill's mask is a generic face mask with a golden, mask-like structure of its own resting atop the forehead and cheeks. Though probably not a conscious decision on Bill's part, it could be taken as a symbol that in the crowd of disguised faces, his disguise is that he's disguised as one of them.
  • Twisted Christmas: The story takes place around the holidays, and while things never get too gory or violent, Bill finds himself in a pretty disturbing corner of the world before it's all said and done.
  • The Un Reveal: Deconstructed: Victor says that Mandy died of an overdose after being gang-banged at the orgy and that Nick got the crap beaten out of him but is alive and well and that the super-wealthy people at the orgy didn't have them killed and we only have Victor's word on the subject, which is suspect since these answers come in the same breath that he's telling Bill to forget what he saw at the mansion. Because the people at the orgy are the super-rich and super-powerful and that Bill should be grateful that Victor's effectively giving him all the answers he needs to hear, Victor says he has to move on and forget what happened that night.
  • Unknown Character: The only people confirmed to be at the ball are Bill and Ziegler. No one ever takes their mask off, so any number of characters that appear before could potentially be there. A popular theory is that Domino was actually the girl that sacrificed herself to save Bill instead of Mandy; other characters viewers guessed to have been there include Milich's daughter, Sally, and even Alice.
    • Also up for debate is the identity of Red Cloak. Besides the guess that it's a separate character, contenders brought up include Sandor, Mr. Milich, or Ziegler.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The ultimate fates of Nick and Domino are never revealed. Ziegler tells Bill that Nick was taken back to Seattle to live with his family and Bill apparently visits Domino's apartment on a day she's not there. However, there is plenty of evidence to discredit both of these claims; it depends on if you think Ziegler and Domino's roommate, respectively, are telling the truth.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Fidelity and its fragility or meaninglessness are some of the main motifs of the movie. Subverted in that Bill and Alice have several chances to be unfaithful, but they never take them. It can be described as mental cheating.

"I do love you and you know there is something very important we need to do as soon as possible."
"What's that?"