12 Days of Christmas Movies: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Not your average carolers!

Eyes Wide Shut may be one of the biggest What The F*** Christmas movies on this list. It is also one of my favourites. An object of significant controversy when it first came out, it starred THE power couple of the time, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in a psycho-sexual thriller. It is also renowned for being director Stanley Kubrick’s final film (I am not counting any of the work that he did on A.I.) At first glance, it looked like a self-indulgent kink fest like Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger’s The Getaway – taking two powerful celebrities and getting them naked for two hours – but instead, Eyes Wide Shut is an insanely provocative look at the fantasies we concoct to make it through the day and the true separation between the elites of society and those below them. It is these heavily thematic tones which carry the film

The first theme is clearly illustrated throughout the film. Kidman’s character named Alice exists in an almost dream like haze throughout. She is constantly looking at herself in the mirror, a direct reference to Lewis Carroll and his Through the Looking Glass, and in many ways she represents an adult version of Carroll’s creation. She is well to do, but bored with her role in both her family and society at large. She cries out for a more exciting life, though does nothing to achieve it. And so she is lost in fantasy, in this case a very erotic fantasy. And she is not the only one. Her husband Dr. Bill (Cruise) is also unsatisfied. He craves more, so he throws around his money to get what he wants – that is as far as his money will take him, but even money has its societal limits.

Throughout the majority of the film, the scenes are shot in hazy glows, brought on by the rainbow colours of the Christmas lights of the streets of New York, or on the Christmas trees in the homes the film enters. The lighting perpetuates the feeling of fantasy or a dream-like state. The majority of the film takes place at night, so there is little natural light. Instead, it is these Christmas lights that aide the camera’s view. Yet in using the Christmas lights to light the scenes and little else, there is a sense of melancholy that permeates the film. You notice every blinking light. Every imperfection. It is a feeling that mirrors the emotional emptiness of the relationship between Dr. Bill and Alice, as well as the empty drive that pushes Dr. Bill forward throughout the course of the evening.


Not exactly holly or jolly…

Then there is the theme of money’s limitations and what true power is. Dr. Bill gets almost everything he wants with his money. That is until he sneaks his way into an Illuminati-like orgy in a mansion outside of the city. It is a masquerade party so he manages to seemingly slip in without anyone’s notice, but it is clear that he is an outsider looking in. The environment is cold and tense and rich with atmosphere. Also noticeably absent is any Christmas lighting of any kind. It is almost to say that Christmas, or our idea of it, is just something to pacify the population while those who have the real power do what they want. They don’t need Christmas. They don’t need anything. And it is clear from the outset that Dr. Bill is an outsider. He has breached into a world in which he does not belong. The confrontation that follows is excruciatingly uncomfortable and resonates with anyone who has truly felt outside of their societally ordained station in life.

Merry Christmas??? (NSFW)

There is so much more subtext in this film that it would take forever to go into it all, so I will leave it at that for now. An interesting read into the symbology of the film however comes by way of The Vigilant Citizen, essential reading for anyone fascinated by the Illuminati.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love made me see: The Ice Harvest

On the second day of Christmas, my true love made me see:Scrooged

On the third day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love made me see:Batman Returns

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Rare Exports

On the sixth day of Chirstmas, my true love made me see: Eyes Wide Shut

3 responses to “12 Days of Christmas Movies: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

  1. Pingback: 12 Days of Christmas Movies: Gremlins (1984) | Refined Geekery·

  2. Pingback: 12 Days of Christmas Movies: Bad Santa (2003) | Refined Geekery·

  3. Pingback: 12 Days of Christmas Movies: The Ref (1994) | Refined Geekery·

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