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Friday, July 9, 1999 Published at 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK


Kubrick's tantalising legacy

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman escape the hype at Wimbledon

By BBC News Online Entertainment Correspondent Tom Brook

Stanley Kubrick's eagerly awaited Eyes Wide Shut finally arrives in American cinemas on 16 July - and it is benefiting from an extremely high profile but unusual publicity campaign.

Provocative photographs of the film's stars, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, are saturating the pages and covers of several top American magazines, an erotically-charged trailer is playing non-stop in cinemas, and thousands upon thousands of words are being written about Kubrick's last film.


[ image: Kidman and Cruise: Saturation coverage]
Kidman and Cruise: Saturation coverage
What's odd is that this campaign is being driven by a film that so far only a handful of individuals have actually seen.

The studio distributing the picture, Warner Bros, isn't allowing the vast majority of critics to a screening of Eyes Wide Shut until just two days before its release.

Normally, if a studio believes in a film it will start showing it early on to build up strong word of mouth.

A picture is generally only kept out of sight when a studio thinks it has a dud on its hands. But when it comes to a Kubrick film, the normal rules of publicity don't apply.

By holding back the picture, and controlling the flow of information, the studio seems to be whipping up interest in Eyes Wide Shut by tantalising the media.

Kubrick's campaign


[ image: Kubrick masterminded the publicity campaign]
Kubrick masterminded the publicity campaign
In fact, Kubrick masterminded many of the details of the Eyes Wide Shut marketing campaign before he died.

It's been reported that the late director even dictated that Warner Bros should not include production notes in journalists' press kits to eliminate any spin the studio might try to place on the film.

The spin that does exist is already very positive.

Two advance reviews, one from Time magazine and the other from critic Alexander Walker writing in the Evening Standard in London, have lavished praise on the film.

Both of these reviews have lent weight to the view that a great work is in the offing, but some members of the American press remain suspicious, perhaps because so much of the project has been shrouded by Kubrick's trademark secrecy.

Mysterious plot


[ image: Kubrick at work: The reclusive director died in March]
Kubrick at work: The reclusive director died in March
The official line is that Eyes Wide Shut is a film that deals with jealousy and sexual obsession.

It is hard to find out more. Even individuals directly involved in the project have been reticent or unknowing.

Scottish actor Alan Cumming, who appears in a scene opposite Tom Cruise, told me : "I only knew my little scene, that was it. I imagine there's a lot of sex and snogging."

What is known is that Eyes Wide Shut is based on a minor classic set in 19th century Vienna called Traumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler.

The setting has been transposed to modern New York where Cruise and Kidman play a successful couple, a doctor and his wife, whose marriage is altered by a confession of an unconsummated sexual fantasy.

The film explores the underpinnings of intimate sexual relationships and the boundaries that should not be crossed.

Big ideas


[ image: Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange is still banned in the UK]
Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange is still banned in the UK
Kubrick's films nearly always contained big ideas. A Clockwork Orange attempted to examine the roots of violence and society's response to it. Full Metal Jacket looked at the inhumanity of war.

The actor Vincent D'Onofrio, who worked with Kubrick on Full Metal Jacket, is convinced Eyes Wide Shut will live up to expectations.

He says: "I have never known Stanley not know what he is doing, so I think it is pretty much guaranteed that it's going to be quite something."

Many of the mysteries surrounding Eyes Wide Shut will be resolved within the next few days. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are flying to Los Angeles for the world premiere where they will talk to reporters and hopefully fill in a few blanks.

It's ironic that Kubrick left in place a marketing plan for his film that has provoked interest largely by teasing audiences, mimicking the very tactics of sexual teasing and flirtation that lead to his characters' downfall in Eyes Wide Shut.

Let's hope the marketing of Eyes Wide Shut has not been tantalising us all for nothing.



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