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.

  2. Something I noticed immediately when I watched the movie is that when Bill walks in to a character named Marion’s house, he makes his way to Marion’s room, and before he does, there is a greeter, and he shows the card and asks how things are going and walks inside. Later, Marion’s husband, who I think also might be a doctor or something else, walks in to the house the exact way Bill did. Same walk, same greeting, pretty much the same everything. Which also further proves that Bill isn’t as important as he thinks he is because there are others just like him.

  3. This isn’t a response but a question as well. In movies, we all know that the camera always shows us what we need in order to understand everything….even if shot in a way that may not seem important at the time we are watching. I have never gotten a real response to what kind of ritual was being performed when Bill enters the so-called party that required a password. A ritual held on an important holiday (at least in America ), and seemed rather dark and what was the man in the middle of the circle with the censor chanting? What was the circle of nude maidens representative of as they were chosen, then the man performing said ritual stomps his sword once on the floor. It just seems like there is more meaning to it than the answers or lack of explanations I have gotten up to this point.

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