Eyes Wide Shut (1999) | The Definitive Explanation

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  1. I have always thought “Eyes Wide Shut” has a structure similar to that of “A Clockwork Orange”. Both movies have a first part that shows the main character interacting with other characters – then a transformative event – then a second part where the main character meets all the same characters under different circumstances.

    In the former, Bill meets Mandy, Ziegler, a female patient who tries to seduce him, a street hooker, Milich and his daughter, and his old friend, the piano player. Then he goes through the trauma of the orgy. After that, he tries to relocate the piano player (but can’t), tries to revisit the street hooker (but finds out that she now has AIDS), revisits Milich and his daughter (but it’s now apparent that Milich is pimping her out) revisits the female patient (who treats him differently because her husband is now present), revisits Ziegler (who reveals himself to be one of the powerful men at the orgy), and possibly revisits Mandy (who may be the dead girl at the morgue).

    In the latter, Alex already knows his droogs, who beat up an old bum, fight a rival gang, and rape a writer’s wife. Then goes through the trauma of prison and the experimental mind control treatment. After being released, he encounters the same bum (who now beats him up), a pair of cops (who are one of his old droogs and one of the rival gang members) and the writer (who’s wife died from the rape and is now out for revenge).

    Did you ever notice this structural similarity?

    • Great point! The more and more I read and write about Kubrick, the more I see these kinds of similarities across his work. He seems obsessed with demystifying the human experience–breaking us simple humans down to our fragile, mortal core. The structure you’ve noted speaks to that, I believe. Our characters experience something surreal, otherworldly. They feel big and powerful. And then reality comes crashing back.

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