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Default Eyes Wide Shut




Reviewer: Styx
Review Date: April 22, 2000

Released by: Warner Brothers
Release date: March 7, 2000
MSRP $19.98
Region 1, NTSC
Full Frame 1.33:1



Warner Home Video garnered a bad reputation for their lackluster "Kubrick Collection" box set released some time ago, and it appears they've botched yet another of the director's films - a fitting tribute to one of the greatest director's of all time, eh? Here, Warner Home Video snubs Kubrick fans who want to see Kubrick's vision unaltered and uncensored the way it was intended. Instead all we get is the R rated "digitally censored" version.

The Story

inline Image Dr. William Harford (Tom Cruise) and his wife Alice Harford (Nicole Kidman) are a happy couple; or so it would seem. They are invited to a party being thrown by Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack), they attend and soon go there separate ways as Bill spots an old acquaintance of his, Nick Nightingale (Todd Field), whom Bill went to Medical School with until he dropped out and became a piano player. The two chat for awhile about old times and what they've been doing. Meanwhile Alice goes off to get a drink and is greeted by a Hungarian who makes a pass at her. After Bill parts ways with Nick, promising to go see him at a nightclub, he meets two young women and proceeds to flirt with them. Alice catches Bill flirting with the two women while dancing with her Hungarian acquaintance, after which the three disappear from her view.

inline Image The next night after smoking some pot and getting stoned Alice asks Bill what happened to him that night at the party after he had disappeared. The conversation leads into an unexpected revelation by Alice who explains she was once tempted to be unfaithful to Bill. The two are suddenly interrupted by a telephone call by the daughter of one of Bill's patients who just died. She asks Bill to come to her home and see her Father and Bill agrees. Bill, whose now begun having haunting visions of his wife's would be infidelity, starts to lose control over his own desires. After an interesting visit with the family of the deceased Bill is back on the road again. He decides to go pay a visit to Nick Nightingale and catches him at the end of his performance.

inline Image The two talk again and Nick reveals an incident where he played a piano blind folded at an unknown party. However, at one of these "parties" the blind fold wasn't on so well and Nick saw something amazing. Intrigued by Nick's tall tale of beautiful naked woman Bill gets Nick to tell him the location and password of the place he'll be playing at. After renting a tux, a cloak with a hood and a mask which are required to enter Bill journeys to the mansion and enters a shocking world of sexual ritual and orgys. When he's discovered as an unwelcome stranger both he and his family are placed in jeopardy.

Stanley Kubrick's final film in a long career of groundbreaking work in cinema which wrought such masterpieces as 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, received mixed reactions from the general public. That combined with Warner's "Digital Censorship" gave this film a notorious air before it had even been released in theaters. After having sat through the film's entire length I came away satisfied with Kubrick's final haunting masterpiece. In short I loved this film, I definitely don't think it's up there with some of the director's more astonishing works or even some of Kubrick's early films such as The Killing, but it's a film which bares the unmistakable mark of Stanley Kubrick.

The film is a haunting, and at times disturbing, journey into the sexual nature of the human race. The films graphic orgy scenes (hindered by Warner who should have known better than to tamper with a Stanley Kubrick film) provide a glimpse into our sexual obsessive society. As the film unfolds Stanley Kubrick makes us a voyeur as we bare witness to all Dr. William Hartford (played by Tom Cruise) sees in his two-night odyssey into the darker side of human nature. Plot is inconsequential and if you're waiting to see some explanation of the people behind the orgy scene and its purpose you're in for a disappointment. Eyes Wide Shut is a talky film with long dialogue sequences and little else. Some have said Eyes Wide Shut is a "boring" film because of this, but personally I found the dialogue interesting and the acting was exceptional.

inline Image I think most fans that eagerly anticipated Eyes Wide Shut theatrical release were turned on by the trailer, which features the steamiest scenes between Nicole Kidman and real life hubby Tom Cruise. Perhaps that raised too many expectations and when audiences discovered that that was the extent of it in the film they were disappointed. At any rate, when Eyes Wide Shut was in theaters, I passed on seeing Blair Witch Project, which was playing at the same time (in the same theater as well), in favor of seeing Stanley Kubricks final film and I've not regretted it.

inline Image On the DVD side of things, if by chance you were hoping this new disc featured the uncensored version of Eyes Wide Shut, again you're in for a disappointment. Warner refused to release the uncensored or NC-17 rated version for reasons I'm not quite clear of. Apparently the story goes that Warner doesn't release films over an R rating similar to Paramount who didn't release Friday the 13th uncut on that basis. I feel this is nonsense of course. The bits censored by the way are the scenes in the mansion with the orgies. People and objects were digitally inserted to cover up some naughty bits and of course watching the film knowing this beforehand, it's painfully obvious where this occurs. So far not one of Kubrick's films has made a significant entry into the DVD market; most are movie only and many didn't get the treatment they deserve, which is sad. How is it that near worthless films like Stigmata and that wretched Lost in Space film get high quality special editions yet Kubrick's masterpieces get shafted? Something's amiss in home video land.

Image Quality

inline Image Warner Home Video presents Eyes Wide Shut full frame (1.33:1) at Director Stanley Kubrick's request. After my initial disappointment that the disc is indeed full frame I got over it and accepted it. After all it was by Kubrick's request, and who am I to argue with that? I saw Eyes Wide Shut in theaters and the transfer on this DVD faithfully reproduces the films vivid colors and arthouse imagery. The film had a grainy appearance in theaters, but much of it is gone in this DVD - the overall image is clean and clear. Colors, like I said, are vivid and beautifully fully saturated and solid without any bleeding.

Nighttime scenes looked excellent - blacks were solid without any breakup. The print used for the transfer was in pristine shape; I noticed no scratches or other blemishes throughout the entire presentation. This is a fine job by Warner Home Video.

Sound

Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Eyes Wide Shut sounds fantastic. The surrounds are excellent and really place you in the center of many of the sound effects. For instance the sounds of the city and cars during Cruise's midnight wanderings. The score sounds fabulous and the scene in the mansion prior to the orgy is a remarkable piece of cinema.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Warner Home Video has prepared some interesting supplements for the DVD release of Eyes Wide Shut. Though none of them make up for their censorship butchery they are a nice addition to the DVD. First there are Cast & Crew Bios for Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack and Stanley Kubrick, which of course are nothing special. The real keepers on the disc are the interviews with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Steven Speilberg. The Interviews with Cruise and Kidman are very personal; both talk about how they became involved with Stanley Kubrick and Eyes Wide Shut. They both talk about Kubrick's unexpected and tragic death in which both are almost reduced to tears. You get the feeling through the interviews of Cruise and Kidman that Stanley Kubrick was a great man.

Also included on the DVD are two TV spots one titled "Jealousy" and the other "Combo". There is also a theatrical trailer.

Final Thoughts

Well Kubrick's last opus has made it to DVD. Sadly Warner didn't release the unrated version of the film and only the R rated version will be available for the foreseeable future. This is unforgivable considering that other studios like New Line (which happens to be owned by Warner - go figure) have released both the R rated and unrated versions of some of their films on DVD (like David Cronenberg's Crash). Why Warner didn't do the same is beyond me. I recommend this disc for Kubrick fans only; others may want to seek out an import that may contain the uncensored version. I know my Eyes Wide Shut disc will hit the auction block as soon as I find one. Thanks a lot Warner.

Rating

Image Quality - A-
Sound - A
Supplements - B

Technical Info.
  • Running time - 2 hours 39 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • 38 Chapter stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1

Supplements
  • Interviews with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Steven Speilberg
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots

Other Pictures

 

 

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