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Eyes Wide Shut (BFI Modern Classics) Paperback – 1 Jul 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: BFI Publishing (1 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085170932X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851709321
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 0.9 x 19.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 387,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Based in Paris, Michel Chion has written many books on the cinema, including a series of groundbreaking works on film sound as well as David Lynch (bfi, 1995) and Kubrick's Cinema Odyssey (bfi, 2000).

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Future Hall of Famer on 8 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When the late-great Mr. Kubrick passed away, Steven Spielberg was famously given 'a treasue chest' as he called it, of another Kubrick project, which thereafter became AI: Artifical Intelligence.

Watch that, and Eyes Wide Shut, and both are distinctly Kubrickesque: the lingering silences; the dream-like ambiences; the ethereal natures of the journey's in both...

So in this edition of the BFI Modern Classics series, the journey for the reader is just as profound, as you learn of the original source novel on which the film is based. You'll see the unique playing with dialogue Kubrick used in how characters repeat one another. And then there's the greater insights into the all-too-real journey of a different kind, filmmakers oF any capacity must endure in order to realise their visions... and Kubrick was as mortal as the rest of us in that.

Filming in England, but setting this last film in New York, the fake sets- I think- add to the off-kilter nature of Eyes Wide Shut; which is as much about Perception as anything else. The nature of reality being as much based on what we see as what we don't; with assumption being a powerful force in the reckoning of either...

So add this copy of BFI Modern Classics to your shelf, and read with Eyes Wide OPEN!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, insightful book! 15 May 2003
By Supervert - Published on
Format: Paperback
Stanley Kubrick must have been habituated to negative reviews, given the controversy that many of his films inspired. Still, there was something poignant about seeing Eyes Wide Shut scathed by the critics when Kubrick himself had just passed away. It is a great film, a masterpiece, and yet it seemed so vulnerable there without the director himself able to lend his considerable energy to its defense. Apparently everyone was expecting a Tom and Nicole lovefest and thus could not see the film for what it was -- a kind of fin-de-siecle film about love, albeit seen in a glass darkly.
Fortunately, defenders of the film are finally emerging from the woods, and at their forefront is Michel Chion. His book -- which is insightful, elegantly written, and unpretentious (a notable quality in film books) -- makes a very strong case for considering Eyes Wide Shut as the work of genius that it no doubt is. He writes with extreme sensitivity to the film's meticulous construction, luminescent cinematography, sinuous psychology, and stylized dialogue. Attentive to the smallest of details, Chion demonstrates how a simple transition shot -- Tom Cruise entering an apartment and knocking on a bedroom door (a scene that Kubrick apparently filmed dozens of times) -- plays an important part in the semantics of the entire film. And those who think of Kubrick as a cinematic purist will be surprised by Chion's convincing analysis of the film's deliberate use of language -- passwords, repetitions, even spelling, as when an incidental character spells her name aloud with such insinuation that no come-on ever sounded so alluring.
It is not always easy to explain the roots of admiration, and sometimes you simply do or do not love a thing -- a book, a film, an artwork. But Chion's book has the great merit of transforming the author's love for the film into insight and exegesis, and perhaps in this way it might inspire admiration in others too...
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Quite Interesting to know 14 Dec. 2010
By Marco Lalama Gross - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm not a film student or a literary expert. I am just a Kubrick fan who always wanted to know more about the director's work. I personally found Eyes Wide Shut intriguing, and always felt that there was more to know about it. I went about and read the novel Traumnovelle, and also read the script. I am very satisfied with Chion's analysis, since it has given me useful details that have helped me understand the film better by paying attention to subtle details. At moments, though, I felt that the author was rambling without any concise or rigorous view; but I understand that such thing is a part of film analysis. I would highly reccomend this short essay, for people who would like to know more about this wonderful film.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, but Quirky- for EWS diehards only 31 Dec. 2008
By David - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michel Chion's book on Eyes Wide Shut may disappoint some looking for a solid, unwavering analysis of the film. Chion offers no such thing. Rather, he approaches the film with a sensitive, keen eye for detail and a penchant for unique and quirky insights. He makes many observations, but has no urge to unite all these observations under one thematic banner, as many are wont to do. That is, Chion observes Eyes Wide Shut as a film full of signifiers, without signifieds. For Chion, there is no signified-in-waiting, no monumental possible revelation of the film's "meaning," that will tie all the patterns and events of the film together. This is somewhat refreshing, as most people seek to pin a film down- to make declarative, concrete statements on what the film, without hesitation, is "about."

Chion's love for the film is so seemingly great that he cannot bring himself to pin it down to anything in particular. Which is fine; Eyes Wide Shut is indeed a film brimming with ambuguity, a film in which, as Chion notes, banal and supposedly important lines of dialogue are given the same level of attention and emphasis. (Chion: "The film does not impose on us a hierarchy of what is important and what is not.") All in all, this is a great, fascinating read- though somewhat slight, coming in at just under 100 pages. Anyone infatuated with Eyes Wide Shut would do well to give Chion's book a chance, though with a fair warning not to expect any sort of traditional analysis.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Nice Start, But Ultimately Inadequate 21 Aug. 2003
By Tom From NY - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When Chion remembers to write about the actual film Eyes Wide Shut, he can be most interesting. His notes on the repetitious dialogue in this film, and in much of Kubrick's work, are very interesting, even if they don't go very far.
Unfortunately, entirely too much of M. Chion's writing is vague and unmoored, unorganized. In the beginning of the essay, Chion makes what must be one of the most ridiculous assertions in the history of film criticism: that Eyes Wide Shut is narrated by Bill and Alice's unborn (and unconceived) son. This little bombshell is dropped into the reader's lap and not explained for several pages, and M. Chion's evidence to support this outlandish claim is, to say the least, unconvincing.
If you want to read an interesting and thought-provoking essay on Eyes Wide Shut, seek out Thomas Allen Nelson's excellent book on Kubrick, entitled Kubrick: Inside A Film Artist's Maze. It is clearly and concisely written, and Nelson never makes an outlandish critical interpretation without rock-solid evidence to back it up. M. Chion would do well to follow Nelson's example.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Marred by a Ridiculous Theory 22 Aug. 2012
By Ivo Shandor - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of the BFI Modern Classics series; I own several and plan to buy several more, given time. Chion's "Eyes Wide Shut" volume is not the best in the series, but is adequate. Chion did notice things that I missed, things that definitely make me want to go back and see the film again, having read this book. The greatest fault of this volume is that it has been poisoned by Chion's wacky "2001: A Space Odyssey" theory. He mentions it briefly in passing here, but for the full details you would have to read his "Kubrick's Cinema Odyssey." Allow me to spare you the trouble.

You see, in the film "2001: A Space Odyssey," space administrator Heywood Floyd journeys to the moon (famously, to the tune of "The Blue Danube") and stops to make a videophone call to his daughter (played by Kubrick's real-life daughter). The girl wants a teddy bear for her birthday (a "bushbaby" in the film), and Floyd says he will see what he can do. The film then moves on to the story of Dave Bowman and the HAL-9000, and - to Chion's dismay - we never find out if the little girl got her teddy bear or not! Chion feels that it "must" have agonized Kubrick FOR THIRTY YEARS (!) that audiences never got to see his daughter get her teddy bear. So - according only to Chion - Kubrick made sure "Eyes Wide Shut" ends with the couple's daughter getting a teddy bear for Christmas. Now, since the film takes place close to the year 2001 (based on when it was filmed), and since the couple in "Eyes Wide Shut" (Bill and Alice Harford, played by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman respectively) end the film by declaring their intent to, well, "perform coitus" (to put in clinically), then that "must" mean that the Star Child floating in Earth orbit at the end of "2001: A Space Odyssey" MUST be their unborn son looking down on them prior to his conception!

And the scariest part is, Chion must really believe this - otherwise why would he mention it in two separate books?

Having read many books about Kubrick, I find it fascinating that on the one hand, Kubrick's fellow directors were amazed at how different each of his films are (different genres, different historical periods, different plot structures), but on the other hand, film critics who grew up awed by "2001: A Space Odyssey" try to claim that every film he did after that was someway, somehow connected thematically to "2001." When it comes to Kubrick, I tend to side with his peers; his critics (fans though they may be) are not quite right in the head.
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