Kubrick’s final erotic drama “Eyes Wide Shut” won’t even let you blink throughout the whole movie. Your eyes will remain wide open from the very start to finish when watching it. Yes, it is such a thrilling one! Ironically the name of the film is “Eyes Wide Shut”. However, just as the name suggests, the whole movie is a dreamlike experience. A nightmarish kind. A mysterious undertone is there in the movie that drives you crazy till the end. Is that the thrill that makes this film a great one? No, it’s not only the thrill. This film undoubtedly Stanley Kubrick’s one of the greatest achievements. Surprisingly he died just six days after showing his final cut. His death adds up to the mystery and the death-like atmosphere pictured in the film. What makes the film a great one are the underlying themes with the mystery elements, each of the beautiful scenes, and the perfect running length.
Although the plot of this film is very interesting to talk about, I am not going into the details of the plot. Rather I am going to explore each of the underlying themes of the entire film. First, the conversation between Bill and his wife Alice, when they are smoking cannabis, signifies the structure of human psychology about sexuality and jealousy. In this conversation, Alice reveals her contemplation of having a sexual affair with a naval officer a year earlier. She vividly describes her feelings and longings to get herself into the naval officer’s arms. On hearing this, Bill is deeply shocked and becomes jealous inside. This feeling drives him to commit infidelity, though ultimately he couldn’t do it. He imagines Alice’s having sex with the naval officer three times which tickle his personal needs that are born out of jealousy. He is now trying to take revenge. What Kubrick tries to convey here is that human psychology about sexuality, jealousy, and faithfulness is paradoxical. We all want our partner to be faithful not only with physicality but also with psychology as well. But we often do not care about the psychological part unless our partner confesses something like Alice. And ironically, we don’t want ourselves to be faithful. In fact, faithfulness itself is arbitrary.
Bill’s attitude towards Alice’s confession shows male judgmental behavior towards women and his dominant nature in the society. From the very beginning of the night-long adventure that Bill takes his dominant nature is revealed when he tries to solve everything with money. Bill considers himself as one of the powerful one in the society until he realizes his true position when he enters the house of a secret society. The secret society of the elites also symbolizes the dominance that rules our society. Out of his burning curiosity, Bill infiltrates the orgy but never knew that he would be humiliated in such a way which leads him to discover himself as a domesticated human being, domesticated by the elite class.
Sex, sexuality, and sexual fantasy are the central themes of this film. The film is officially categorized as “Erotic Drama”. Human beings are the only species on planet earth who overrate their sexual feelings. Sexuality is not only a way of spreading one’s DNA to another for human beings. It is much more than that. In fact, sexuality and sexual fantasy are two distinctive things. Sexual fantasy is one thing that human beings are capable of which drive them to take sex to such a level where it is used for fulfilling the man’s ultimate inner emptiness. Alice’s sexual contemplation, the mysterious sex orgy, and Bill’s desire of committing adultery can employ that the film is mainly about sexuality. To some extent, it is about sexuality. But the main focus here is the people.
The mysterious sexual party where a lot of masked elites are having group sex, couple sex, and gay sex reveals their attitude towards women and their longing to fulfill their emptiness through a ritualistic sexuality. The girl who saves Bill’s life by taking the responsibility of redeeming Bill on her own account is found dead in a morgue the next day. And when Bill learns that she was just a hooker and the whole setup was fake which was made just to frighten him, Bill cannot believe it. This suggests how much life value a woman gets by the higher class.
The entire film can be summed up as Bill’s dream. Everybody, the characters of his dream, may be waking up. Dreams reveal human’s inner psyche as an alternate reality. In this film, Alice’s description of her unusual dream where she is having sex with so many men and the sexual orgy that Bill had seen in the house make a mysterious mixer of dream and reality. It might be entirely Bill’s own dream. Or it could be Alice’s dream. We are not quite sure about that. What we are sure of that it’s a dream. It’s a dream that we all need to wake up from. This dream may signify the collective unconscious of the human psyche. It might be that we all are asleep. We are still in the transition between the conscious and unconscious.
Every set of the film is exceptional. The background music and each shot are designed so carefully. The darkness, creepiness, and death-like atmosphere make the film so unique. The greatness of this film lies in the unconventional intriguing story with layers of meanings.
The film is a metaphor of human psychology. It also tells us that our life is a waking dream. In this dream, we are so much aware that we are dreaming, but still, we are asleep. Someday, we may wake up and meet our own selves or merge into the “real” reality. The ending suggests that Bill and Alice both reawake to life. Before, they were sleeping in the life’s waiting room not without even realizing that they were asleep.
There may be many other explanations other than the ones I have provided here. And there should be. If you keep your eyes wide open, you will see so many things in this masterpiece. It’s not just a movie to be seen, it’s an experience to be experienced.