Eyes Wide Shut is a 1999 erotic mystery psychological drama film directed, produced and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. Based on the 1926 novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story) by Arthur Schnitzler, the story is transferred from early 20th-century Vienna to 1990s New York City. The film follows the sexually charged adventures of Dr. Bill Harford, who is shocked when his wife, Alice, reveals that she had contemplated having an affair a year earlier. He embarks on a night-long adventure, during which he infiltrates a massive masked orgy of an unnamed secret society.
Kubrick obtained the filming rights for Dream Story in the 1960s, considering it a perfect text for a film adaptation about sexual relations. He revived the project in the 1990s when he hired writer Frederic Raphael to help him with the adaptation. The film, which was mostly shot in the United Kingdom, apart from some exterior establishing shots, includes a detailed recreation of exterior Greenwich Village street scenes made at Pinewood Studios. The film's production, at 400 days, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous film shoot.
Kubrick died six days after showing his final cut to Warner Bros. Pictures, making this the final film he directed. In order to ensure a theatrical R rating in the United States, Warner Bros. digitally altered several sexually explicit scenes during post-production. This version was released on July 16, 1999, to moderately positive reactions from film critics. Box office receipts for the film worldwide were about $162 million. The uncut version has since been released in DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats.
Dr. Bill and Alice Harford live in New York with their daughter Helena. They attend a Christmas party hosted by wealthy patient, Victor Ziegler, where Bill is reunited with Nick Nightingale, a medical school drop-out who now plays the piano professionally. An older Hungarian guest attempts to seduce Alice, and two young models attempt to seduce Bill. He is interrupted by his host who had been having sex with Mandy, a young woman who has overdosed on a speedball. Mandy recovers with Bill's aid.
The following evening, while smoking marijuana, Alice and Bill discuss their episodes of unfulfilled temptation. Bill tells Alice he is not jealous of other men's attraction to her because he deems women naturally inclined to fidelity. She then discloses that during their vacation in Cape Cod, she encountered a naval officer and fantasized about him enough to consider leaving Bill and their daughter, Helena. Bill is disturbed by Alice's revelation before being called to the house of a patient who has just died. The patient's distraught daughter unsuccessfully tries to seduce Bill. Upon leaving, he engages a prostitute named Domino. Alice phones when they start kissing, prompting Bill to have a change of heart. He pays Domino for the sexless encounter and meets Nick at a jazz club. Nick describes an engagement where he must play piano blindfolded in events featuring beautiful women. Invitees require a costume, a mask and a password. Bill goes to a costume shop and offers the owner, Milich, a generous amount of money to rent a costume. Inside the shop, Milich is outraged when he catches his teenage daughter with two men.
Bill takes a taxi to the country mansion mentioned by Nick. He gives the password and discovers a sexual ritual is taking place. One of the masked women warns him he is in terrible danger. Bill is ushered to a crowded room and unmasked by the master of ceremonies. The woman who had tried to warn Bill intervenes and insists on redeeming him, at an undisclosed personal cost. Bill is let off with a warning not to tell anyone about what happened.
Bill arrives home guilty and confused. He finds Alice laughing in her sleep and awakens her. She tearfully explains a dream in which she was having sex with the naval officer and many other men, and laughing at the idea of Bill witnessing the scene. The next morning Bill goes to Nick's hotel. The desk clerk explains that a bruised and frightened Nick checked out hours earlier escorted by two dangerous-looking men. Bill returns the costume but seems to have misplaced the mask, and learns Milich is now procuring his daughter to the same men he performed citizen's arrest on the previous night.
Bill reads the news about a beauty queen's death from an overdose, goes to the morgue and identifies her as Mandy. He is then summoned by Ziegler, who reveals he was a guest in the orgy and identified Bill through his connection with Nick. Ziegler claims the secret society's warnings are only intended to scare Bill from speaking about the orgy. However, he implies the society is capable of acting on their threats. Bill asks about Nick's disappearance and Mandy's death, correctly identifying her as the masked orgy participant who sacrificed herself for him. Ziegler insists that Nick is safely back home in Seattle, and the punishment was part of the same charade of intimidation and had nothing to do with Mandy's death. He also says Mandy was a hooker and addict who had died from another accidental drug overdose. Bill does not know whether Ziegler is telling the truth about Nick's whereabouts or Mandy's death.
Upon returning home, Bill finds the rented mask on his pillow next to his sleeping wife. He breaks down in tears and tells Alice the whole truth of the past two days. The next morning, they go Christmas shopping with Helena, who wanders near two older men who had been first seen at Ziegler's party. Unconcerned with their child, Bill apologizes to Alice, and Alice muses that they should be grateful that their marriage and mutual love survived.
- Tom Cruise as Dr. William "Bill" Harford
- Nicole Kidman as Alice Harford
- Sydney Pollack as Victor Ziegler
- Todd Field as Nick Nightingale
- Marie Richardson as Marion Nathanson
- Sky du Mont as Sandor Szavost
- Rade Šerbedžija as Mr. Milich
- Vinessa Shaw as Domino
- Fay Masterson as Sally
- Alan Cumming as Hotel Desk Clerk
- Leelee Sobieski as Milich's daughter
- Leon Vitali as Red Cloak
- Julienne Davis as Amanda "Mandy" Curran
- Abigail Good as Mysterious Woman
Themes and interpretation
Use of Venetian masks
Release and Reception
Awards and honors
Debate over the film's state of completion
Studio censorship and classification
- Eyes Wide Shut at the TCM Movie Database
- Eyes Wide Shut at Box Office Mojo
- Eyes Wide Shut at Metacritic
- Eyes Wide Shut on Wikipedia
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