As a script writer for hire I’m a big fan of Stanley Kubrick, I’ve read all the books, watched all the films multiple times and I’ve seen all the documentaries on Stanley.
Stan’s films were often ahead of their time. Indeed if you watch the documentaries, directors and writers sometimes talk about Stan’s films not being properly understood until 20 years later.
Eyes Wide Shut was made in 1999 and inspired by an old book written by Arthur Schnitzler which was set in Vienna. Stan had wanted to make this film for many years, and between projects kept coming back to the book.
The film was released to critical indifference in 99, and was Stan’s last film – he died as it was completed.
I saw the film in the cinema and loved it; I still think it’s a great final masterpiece… But what was Stanley trying to say?
The film follows a night of sexual doubt between a couple, and the man sets of on a bizarre journey (almost dreamlike) into a secret society, where the upper classes enjoy orgies, and where murder takes place. In a dream like fashion identities are kept secret and nobody talks openly about these societies (or what goes on within them).
Stanley lived in England for the majority of his life, he was moneyed, had high profile friends (John Le Carre was a frequent dinner guest and may have come up with the title for the film). Yes, Stanley, despite his reclusive reputation had a wide circle of influential friends, and the people who worked for Stanley (including Antony Frewin, Stan’s personal assistant and sometime writer of very interesting books, including the classic novel London Blues) where all pretty switched on people.
Since Stanley’s death in 99, we’ve seen many high profile media darlings exposed as paedophiles, there have also been allegations (unproved) about high profile politicians (including a Prime Ministers). In 1999 these sorts of allegations would have been laughed off, of even thought of as David Icke-esque. In 2016, newspapers are running a constant loop of allegations looking into high profile figures and they’re sexual proclivities.
The BBC itself has been accused of, and to an extent found guilty of harbouring and protecting sexual deviants. Jimmy Savile has connections to parliament, good relationships with a succession of MPs, Prime Ministers and the Royal Family (Prince Charles was at his funeral in Leeds). The Royal Family themselves in Prince Andrew, have been heavily involved in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.
So Stan’s last film gets nearer to 20 years old, the real time of critical reckoning for a filmmaker who appeared to be years ahead of everyone else. The sex ring angle seemed unlikely in 1999. How does it look now?
Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. Matthew was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge, the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on firstname.lastname@example.org