By: Jay Dyer
Eyes Wide Shut is a film that failed to live to the expectations of many. It was supposed to be an edgy thriller that made statements about upper echelon decadence, while also utilizing the real world sex life of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a kind of doorway bridging the gap between reality and fantasy – something that does come up in other Kubrick films, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. In this Kubrick film, however, we have a statement about who runs the “show.” The show is both the film itself, as well as reality, and Kubrick wants viewers to realize that reality is run by our present showmasters of the videodrome. The viewer is supposed to reflect upon the decadence of the Eastern elite establishment, but also notice that viewing the film itself is homage to present social hypocrisy, since the film is a wannabe voyeuristic step into the sex lives of others. In this regard, it functions as an initiation. None of the other analysts and commenters have really noticed this. Virtually every review I have read sees it as some elaborate “MKULTRA/Illuminati” mind control thing (as is supposedly everything on those sites), while other reviews from professors and academia see it as a social or psychological commentary.
I think it has elements of all this, but the real goal is, I believe, an initiation process. The viewer is at the film because he or she is curious about Hollywood secrets and elite lives. Think of all the silly gossip magazines we have. The “average Joe” went to see the film for a glimpse of Nicole Kidman, and Kubrick wants the viewer to see the hypocrisy in such an action, given that most people will “judge” the film’s secret society cult. Eyes Wide Shut, then, is a descriptor of the audience, as well as the characters in the film, who don’t really understand the socio-political power base that runs things. The power base is not, according to Kubrick’s film, the average politician or wealthy doctor or lawyer in New York. Indeed, this is precisely Kidman and Cruise’s characters’ status: they are unwitting inductees. Thus throughout the film, the viewers eyes are wide shut to the reality of the power structure, just as Kidman and Cruise’s characters are, until the end, when they have their eyes “opened,” as they both say at the end. Let us proceed.
The opening scene shows us Mrs. Harford (Nicole Kidman) between two pillars. This is the doorway to the initiation, in other words. The two pillars figure prominently in Freemasonry as the entranceway to the divine, as borrowed from Solomon’s temple:
Ziegler, Harford’s friend, invites the couple to his parties frequently under the auspices of eventually getting them to participate in the orgies. As it turns out, there are two parties, and Mr. Harford’s old college buddy, Nick Nightingale, plays piano for both. Initially, both Harfords resist the temptation to sleep with other people, yet appear to have the desire given their own marital sexual problems. However, what we continue to suspect is not that the events are randomly occurring, but rather that it has been organized. It is not an accident that Bill Harford’s college buddy has shown up. Alice gets drunk and is then hit on by Sandor Szavost, a wealthy Hungarian. Szavost is likely a reference to Anton Szandor LaVey, the founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan. I think this is a symbolic reference, just to let us know the crowd they are being allowed to party with is ultimately an upper echelon Satanic cult. It is also interesting to note that the original story (“Dream Story”) is written about a couple who undergoes the experience in upper class Austria around the turn of the century, since Germany is the origin of the actual members of the Order of Illuminati.
Bill discovers that Ziegler is involved in some shady dealings, and apparently has some connection to drugs and beauty queens. “Mandy,” a beauty queen we later discover, is knocked out from drugs – ‘asleep’ and nude, and we will find Alice experience something similar. Mandy has almost overdosed, and Dr. Harford tells her she cannot keep doing what she is doing: we don’t know if it’s a suicide attempt or not. It is also interesting that the nude woman in the painting above Mandy is sprawled out in the same position, as if to allude to the film’s thesis of a thin borderline between fantasy or dream, and reality.
Next, we see the Harfords going about daily activities. Notice again the inverted pentagrams in the background:
The Harfords then have a big argument over sex and the desire to cheat, and Alice tells Bill she once wanted to have sex with a young man years ago at a hotel. Throughout their condo we see images of gateways in gardens, indicating again that this is a film about initiation. Gardens also bring to mind Eden, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve due to sin, or it could refer to their coming initiation into the “garden of the gods,” so to speak, as they are about to experience the underworld in overworld.
Bill then leaves to visit a patient who has passed away, and begins his languorous escapade for an extra-marital affair. He finds out his patient’s daughter has a crush on him, but Bill decides to remain faithful and leaves. He begins to suspect marriage is bad for others, too, as Sandor had tried to convince Alice. Bill then roams the streets looking for sexual fulfillment, passing hookers and sex shops. He then gets harassed by a group of guys who (for no reason whatsoever) call him a homosexual, showing society’s obsession with sex. Bill bumps into a pretty hooker and is invited to her apartment. He concedes, and steps into the world of the lower class, finding that sex is an “issue” everywhere. More symbolic imagery is used, as we see the prominent placement of books on sociology in the whore’s apartment. Kubrick is showing us that he is making a statement on sociology – but not the one most people think. It’s the true sociology of how the world is really run.
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