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11 September, 2019, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
£12 – £15
Eyes Wide Shut is an erotic drama film released in 1999, the final feature Stanley Kubrick completed before he died that same year at the age of 70.
Based on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story), it depicts the revelation of extra-marital fantasies by a woman to her husband in an ostensibly happy marriage. One might be inclined to speculate that, over the course of his career, Kubrick was working his way to an investigation of female desire by first tackling less daunting topics in earlier works: war, outer space, ‘ultraviolence’ and horror!
Starring the then-still-married actors Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, Eyes Wide Shut presents dark motifs of secrecy, jealousy and sexual obsession, although Kubrick intended the film as a “hopeful” story about commitment and monogamous fidelity. The title is allegedly a reference to remarks made by Benjamin Franklin: “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half shut afterwards” – a shorthand for a pragmatic mentality in contemplating a spouse’s inner life.
The film initially provoked strong negative reactions in some critics; most notoriously The New Yorker film writer Pauline Kael emerged from retirement to condemn the film as “a piece of crap.” Despite this, Eyes Wide Shut has gained a huge international cult following, going on to earn nearly 100 million dollars in profit, making it the most commercially successful film Kubrick ever made.
In this event, to mark the publication of his new book, Eyes Wide Shut: Stanley Kubrick and the Making of His Final Film, Professor Nathan Abrams will discuss with Mary Wild the significance of Eyes Wide Shut twenty years on, reflecting upon the protracted period during which the film was made, the outraged response it eventually elicited, and possible psychoanalytic interpretations of the director’s recurring themes that, in a present-day appraisal, stand the test of time.
Advance viewing of the film is recommended (only a short bespoke video montage will be shown during the event); audience questions and comments welcome.
Nathan Abrams is Professor in Film at Bangor University where he directs the Centre for Film, Television and Screen Studies. He is the author of Stanley Kubrick: New York Jewish Intellectual (2018), Eyes Wide Shut: Stanley Kubrick and the Making of his Final Film (with Robert Kolker, 2019), and The Bloomsbury Companion to Stanley Kubrick (with IQ Hunter, forthcoming).
Mary Wild is the creator of the PROJECTIONS lecture series at Freud Museum London, applying psychoanalysis to film interpretation. Her interests include cinematic representations of mental illness, doppelgangers and the unconscious in the genres of horror, science fiction and documentary. Mary also co-hosts the PROJECTIONS Podcast available on iTunes and Spotify.