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Kubrick, S. Lombardi, R. (2004). Stanley Kubrick's swan song: Eyes wide shut. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(1):209-218.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(1):209-218

Stanley Kubrick's swan song: Eyes wide shut

Review by:
Stanley Kubrick

Riccardo Lombardi

As the basis of what was to be his last film, Eyes wide shut, the director Stanley Kubrick chose a work by Arthur Schnitzler, the author Freud considered his double (1966, p. 370). The novella he selected, Traumnovelle, deals with Freud's favorite subject: dreams. But the sexuality and affects that engage the husband and wife who are its protagonists are also Freudian subjects. In Schnitzler's version, the story unfolds in a nebulous and ill-defined no-man's-land between fantasy and reality. In Kubrick, the atmosphere is more specifically defined without, however, any consequent sacrifice of depth. For this American director, ‘if there is no reality, there is no film’ (Raphael, 1999). With this aesthetic axiom as a foundation, he proceeds, in his characteristically dry and incisive style, to aim at an uncompromising impact on the viewers. But, dream or reality, what counts for Kubrick is the viewer's gaze, the eye that reifies the film.

Like all works of art, this film can be read in a number of ways. In this piece I shall emphasize the fact that Eyes wide shut was the last film Kubrick made before he died, and hence I regard it as his unconscious spiritual testament, which meditates on such ontological questions as life and death, as well as on cinema viewed as a visual art at the crossroads between concreteness and abstraction. Charged as his last film is with symbolic references to death, we should not overlook the fact that in all of Kubrick's films fear of dying is a constant presence and an apparent mirror image of his obsession with control and with mechanical apparatuses (cf.

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