Symbols in Stanley Kubrick's Movie 'Eyes Wide Shut'
Seminar paper from the year 2002 in the subject American Studies - Miscellaneous, grade: very good, University of Wurzburg (English Philology), 23 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of the 1990s, turned out to be the most controversial cinematic work of this decade. Critics are divided between scathing criticism and commendatory enthusiasm; reviews range from calling Kubrick's movie intellectually over-hyped, a disaster, or a boring experience to praising it as a triumphant victory and a masterpiece. For one thing, Eyes Wide Shut generates controversy on first viewing. It does not present easy answers or reassuring certainties, but leaves the viewer baffled as to its meaning. It is the movie's complexity and large symbolic dimension that makes one realize that a single screening may not reveal all the meanings necessary for an interpretation. One of the movie's outstanding features is its extensive use of recurring motifs, symbols, allusions, and paradox - one of the reasons why the film is difficult to understand. Thus, to come to a fuller understanding of one of the film's possible messages, it is not only useful, but also necessary to take a closer look at its symbolic structure. This paper attempts to discuss the symbols employed in the movie as it is of benefit to the film's analysis. Eyes Wide Shut presents two different planes of discourse: there is an outer reality, the social dimension, and there is the inner world of the characters, the psychodynamic dimension. To allow for the viewer to penetrate beyond the surface of outward appearances and human superficiality into the hidden worlds of dreams and fantasies, the use of symbols is an ideal instrument. Symbols appeal to the imagination and they address and evoke our emotions. They reflect on the interface between fiction and reality and thus help to reveal the truths of the subconscious mind. This helps to
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Page 8 - The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Page 15 - Even though there are different versions of what happened in the mythical past, no-one is in a position to say what is true and what is false, what came first and what followed subsequently. 'Distant time' is, accordingly, outside the control of man.
Page 9 - ... formality because they exist between dream and reality. Kubrick wants us to watch Cruise and Kidman and think about what people appear to be and who they really are. Kubrick's genius in Eyes Wide Shut is to make us look at the film the way the film looks at life. The title announces the film's perspective: we stare life in the face and miss what is truly going on right under our noses. Bill is a doctor; his job is to defy the corruptions of time and repair injured bodies. Thus he is willfully...
Page 6 - ... that Traumnovelle is a masterpiece worthy of resting alongside Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death," Kafka's The Trial, and Sadegh Hedayat's The Blind Owl. Like the Poe story, it features a phantasmal masked ball with dark and decadent undercurrents, and like the Kafka and Hedayat novels, it continually and ambiguously crosses back and forth between fantasy and waking reality. But it differs from all three in having a development that might be described as therapeutic— Schnitzler, a doctor,...
Page 14 - It alludes to the story of a crack of gold supposedly to be found by anyone reaching the end of a rainbow.34 The motif turns up again in the name of Milich's costume shop, which is called Rainbow Fashions.