Click here to learn more about anamorphic widescreen!
Go to the Home Page
Go to The Rumor Mill
Go to Todd Doogan's weekly column
Go to the Reviews Page
Go to the Trivia Contest Page
Go to the Upcoming DVD Artwork Page
Go to the DVD FAQ & Article Archives
Go to our DVD Links Section
Go to the Home Theater Forum for great DVD discussion
Find out how to advertise on The Digital Bits

Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 2/25/00
updated: 5/22/01




Eyes Wide Shut

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

The Films of Stanley Kubrick on DVD


Eyes Wide Shut (new Kubrick Collection)


Eyes Wide Shut
1999 (2001) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: A+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A

Specs and Features

159 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:25:23, in chapter 21), Snapper case packaging, two TV spots, theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, interviews (with Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg), film-themed menu screens with animation and sound, scene access (38 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English and French, Closed Captioned



Eyes Wide Shut


Eyes Wide Shut
1999 (2000) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: A+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A

Specs and Features

159 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:25:23, in chapter 21), Snapper case packaging, two TV spots, theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, interviews (with Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg), film-themed menu screens with animation and sound, scene access (38 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English and French, Closed Captioned


"But it's just a dream."

When Stanley Kubrick died, I wrote an essay about the Internet's simultaneous weeping over the loss of a master artist. I said that we should stop, check ourselves and honor the man's work rather than the man himself. I felt (and still feel) that an artist lives through his work and not through his normal actions or existence. The DVD versions of Eyes Wide Shut are a testament to that statement. But right up front, let me say that I'm going to pretend that Kubrick wanted to digitally superimpose images of figures in front of the copious copulation in the film. He knew it that the film was probably going to have trouble with the MPAA, and he knew that digital alteration was an acceptable way of dealing with the problem. Had he lived, he probably would have re-edited the scenes in question himself to get a R rating. But he didn't, so rather than re-editing his film after the fact, Warner chose to digitally alter the scenes (under the supervision of long-time Kubrick associate, Leon Vitali). It's a travesty, and it would be great to have the unaltered version of the film on this disc in Region 1 (maybe via seamless branching). But we don't, so we're going to have to deal with it. Enough said.

Kubrick has always bent our perception of genre. He made Sci-Fi intelligent, period costume dramas emotional and heist films documentary in style. These things are all how most of us think of the genres in question, and it's all because of him. So if he never made the same film twice as Spielberg claims (in the interview on the disc), what is Eyes Wide Shut? My theory is that it's a twist on the softcore cable porn we see on Cinemax. I'm serious. A man finds that his wife has had thoughts about another man. We're not talking, "Gee, that guy has a nice ass" kind of thoughts. No, we're talking, "I was going to sacrifice everything we built together just to have his hands on me" thoughts. This drives the man nuts, causing him to spend an entire night just walking around New York City, lost in images of his wife and the man fornicating endlessly, all the while bumping into sexual opportunities of his own (and naked women too) and having to come to grips with his own needs. What starts it all off isn't a jealously thing, as some might point out. Cruise's character (Dr. Bill) just can't believe that what he thought was a stable marriage had a few dire moments he wasn't even aware of. We all get lost in our lives and take things for granted, but is that good or bad? When Cruise watches his wife (Alice, played very well by his real life wife Nicole Kidman) dancing with a man at a party, he never thinks twice, thinking it cute more than anything else. He doesn't see the want in her eyes, and the fact that she would probably go off with this guy is she really wanted to. To Cruise, the reason she wouldn't do that is because she's happily married to him. But Kidman isn't necessarily in that frame of mind, and I highly doubt that Cruise figures into it.

The film is mainly about the evening Cruise spends walking around town. He originally heads to the home of a patient's who just died to comfort the family. There he finds out something about the meaning of emotional longing and how deep these things can get. Pay attention to how kisses play out in this scene and also "eyes". There are two separate moments in this scene, and both reveal volumes. Stepping aside for a quick sec, I think that these various "moments" are the most interesting thing about this film. Kubrick understands character psychology.

In the opening scenes, two moments really say something that's pretty obvious, but the uninitiated might not catch it. Cruise plays with his wedding band while talking with a couple of horny models. On the outside he's just flirting with two gorgeous girls who would sleep with him in a second -- at the same time. It's an ego boost. He's enjoying it and playing with the girls verbally. But if you watch his hand, he's playing with his band. Why? Books will tell you that a man who plays with his wedding band is uncomfortable about being married. But to misquote Freud: sometimes playing with your band is just that - playing with your band. In this case, I don't think it's either an uncomfortable thing or just a nervous habit. My thinking is that Crusie has no intention of going off with these girls, but he wants to stroke that ego for a while longer. Playing with the band is a kind reminder to the girls that he is indeed married. Kind of like saying, "Ladies, I'll play - just respect the band." That's my take, and I'm not wrong. But I'm not right either. That's the great thing about Kubrick. Depending on how you think yourself, all the characters motivations are different. It's like Chef's salty balls - if you have a dirty mind, then a play on words like that means something different that it does to a person who doesn't read into things. Chef's salty balls are a snack food and nothing else. But...

The other telling moment comes directly after the party, when Kidman is undressing in front of a mirror, and stares at herself as Cruise approaches and begins to kiss her. I've read that this scene is all about ego. I don't think it is. My thinking is that Kidman is remembering her dance partner from earlier and also remembering other times she's felt something inside. She does this as her husbands face is nestled (hidden in fact) in her neck. In that moment, Cruise is a faceless man kissing and touching her. Fodder for her mind games.

Anyway, I'm going to leave the dissection of the film to you, the way Kubrick meant the film to exist. My feeling is that it's a great film and a worthy last film for a genius like Kubrick - living or dead. It's everything we expect a Kubrick film to be: emotional, deep, thought provoking and very eerie. Man, Kubrick knew how to set you on edge. He does it here with nothing more than a camera move, a china mask and a single piano note. Whatever is said about the film, one thing's for sure: this will be an important film in about ten years.

I said above that DVD versions of this film are a good testament to Kubrick, and I wasn't joking. But I should say that there's really only one actual version of the disc. It was released originally in 2000, and has now been repackaged in the newly remastered Stanley Kubrick Collection. Just be aware that it's the exact same disc as before, simply with new box art. No, it's not a maxed-out special edition, and I'm frankly thankful for that. It's presented in full frame (Kubrick's preferred format). Warner includes a card at the beginning that states that this presentation of the film is full frame as Kubrick intended the film to be seen (instead of the uninformed and misleading "formatted to fit your screen"). The picture quality is pretty stellar. The color and contrast is solid and the blacks are very nice. The grain you see in the image is in the print, and was intended by the director. The only moments of question are in the digital figures added into the film during post-production. The blacks here seem a bit digital and off, which is not really a problem with the transfer. It's more a problem with mixed technology. The sound is also very nice. It's a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with a nicely ambient soundfield. That one piano note will bang you in your heart as it echoes around your home theater. This isn't an active audio assault, but it's perfect for this film.

For those looking for some extras, well there's only one really. Or, let's make that three worth mentioning. On top of two TV spots, a trailer and a cast and crew index, we get three very emotional post-Kubrick interviews with Tom Cruise (very nice, real human and just perfect), Nicole Kidman (kind of wasted, not very telling and over actorly) and Steven Spielberg (a nice dedication to fellow artist and friend and very telling). Together they run a little over 30 minutes, and they're worth picking the disc up for all by themselves. I'm not kidding - this is a nice package.

Fans of DVD are fans of film. There's no denying that. And fans of film have to be fans of Kubrick. It's that simple. If there was ever a filmmaker that exemplified the art of film, it was Stanley. Sure, sometimes his ideas are a bit above our thinking, but his films are always accessible. They spoke to us emotionally, physically and psychologically... just the way good art should. As Spielberg says in his interview, the more you watch a Kubrick film, the more you start to appreciate it. His work gets you talking and thinking. What could be a better testament to his genius?

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com

The Films of Stanley Kubrick on DVD

Eyes Wide Shut


The Stanley Kubrick Collection (new version)


E-mail the Bits!


Don't #!@$ with the Monkey! Site designed for 800 x 600 resolution, using 16M colors and .gif 89a animation.
© 1997-2002 The Digital Bits, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com